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Meteos: Disney Magic Package Art
GENRE
Puzzle
DEVELOPER
Q? Entertainment
PUBLISHER
Disney Interactive
LOCAL WIRELESS
MULTI-PLAY
Yes
Wi-Fi/GLOBAL ONLINE
MULTI-PLAY
No
MICROPHONE
No
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Meteos: Disney Magic

In 2005, Nintendo published the quirky touch-based DS puzzler Meteos. The game met with a warm critical reception and was deemed a modest success. In fact, Meteos' unique mechanics went a long way towards justifying the uniqueness of DS and Nintendo's new stance on hardware in general.

Two years later, Disney Interactive teams up with series creator Q? Entertainment to produce Meteos: Disney Magic, an updated version infused with familiar Disney faces and settings. With the basic underlying premise of Meteos still in place, Meteos: Disney Magic offers a new version of a classic specifically targeted for Disney fans.

visuals

Meteos was based around the concept of outer space; the Disney-approved version replaces little aliens and rocketing meteos with heffalumps, jack o'lanterns and three-eyed alien toys. Surprisingly, the addition of Disney characters isn't the biggest visual change in the offering, as developer Q? Entertainment has rotated the orientation 90 degrees. This leaves the player holding DS in the same way Hotel Dusk has you holding it -- like a book.

The longer touch screen allows for a somewhat bigger gameplay area, but the top screen is somewhat under-utilized, serving primarily as an indicator of how the game is progressing. Disney heroes are shown in predicaments, which get cumulatively better or worse depending on how the player is faring. These are similar to the in-game panels of Elite Beat Agents.

audio

Disney has a strong stable of memorable songs and countless hummable tunes that resonate with over three generations. So it's surprising that so few of them are included here. While it certainly wasn't necessary for Randy Newman to belt out "You've Got A Friend In Me" during the Toy Story levels, an instrumental rendition would not have been out of place. A few of the stages have tracks lifted directly from their respective soundtracks, but most are clearly inspired by those same scores.

The Meteos sounds have also been given a Disney makeover. Rather than making synthetic alien sounds, cartoonish plops and squishes denote the movement of blocks across the grid; although, the traditional rocket booster still accompanies the launching of a group of tiles.

gameplay

The premise of Meteos: Disney Magic remains the same as that of its predecessor: launch the falling tiles into the sky before the touch screen is completely filled. Placing three matching tiles in a row, horizontally or vertically, will cause a rocket launch. Combinations of four or five are also possible. Launching blocks off of the screen completely removes them from play.

The biggest change is the ability to move tiles horizontally as well as vertically. This makes getting combos much easier and changes the dynamics of play into something a little bit different than what Meteos veterans will be expecting. This also has the effect of making the game a bit easier, which considering the license, is a good choice.

The standard story mode lets players make corrections in the Disney story books, which have been jumbled around thanks to someone's careless interference. Each movie-themed stage has a specific goal, ranging from clearing 100 of a certain kind of block to simply surviving for a set time limit. Randomly appearing items and level-specific abilities can influence play, and each level has its own unique gravitation force. In the Pride Lands, for example, launched tiles will hover for quite some time before returning to the surface, while in Halloween Town, it takes multiple combos to even launch a group off the ground.

In addition to four difficulty levels (the last of which removes the ability to slide tiles horizontally), Disney Magic offers individual challenges and several collectibles, which can be accessed by completing story missions. Once a mode is beatened, it appears as a challenge and can also be played in Endless mode. Medals are awarded for superior performance and will be displayed during later playthroughs.

multiplayer

Up to four players can challenge each other with single-card or multi-card play. Versus mode sends blocks raining on opposing players after a successful launch. The last player standing wins. Players can also practice by playing against the computer in one-player mode.

overall

Meteos: Disney Magic is essentially a marketable way to attract new players to the Meteos concept, and it works. The only real problem here is a minor one -- for some reason, the game continues to progress when in Sleep Mode, resulting in a Game Over as soon as the DS is unfolded. While those who've played the original game in, out and sideways won't necessarily need to pick up this installation (which is really more of a re-imagining than a true update), anyone who hasn't played Meteos may want to give it a try. The Meteos formula is fully intact here, and it still has an original, intriguing game concept, which proves that DS is a unique gaming platform.

final score 8.0/10





WRITER INFORMATION
Staff Avatar Aaron Roberts
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