Meteos (DS) review
"If Lumines is portable gaming’s figure skating, then Meteos is snowboarding in an avalanche while trying to control a full bladder. "
If Lumines is portable gaming’s figure skating, then Meteos is snowboarding in an avalanche while trying to control a full bladder.
Meteos leaves an impression entirely opposite from Lumines, developer Q? Entertainment’s first portable puzzler, by throwing everything under and including the sun at you. The premise is that Planet Meteo is raining down death, destruction and debauchery upon its neighbors by shooting down uncontrollable fragments called meteos. But hark! Only YOU can save the universe! Drag meteos into magical chains of three! This rockets them upwards to drive away evil rock! Create happy for those want peace! Congraturation!
As nonsensical as the story may sound, it actually helps to setup the various gameplay aspects that Meteos offers. These meteorites are recklessly pouring down, so it makes sense that you can’t control them directly. Similar to Tetris Attack for the Super Nintendo, Meteos only lets you vertically move meteos that have already landed in the play area.
Arranging a horizontal or vertical chain of at least three like-colored meteos will rocket them – and any meteos stacked above them – into the air. Let the play area fill up, and you cause a “Nova” – meaning you fail. You’re meanwhile able to rearrange the meteos contained within an airborne stack. The idea is to create enough of these chains within a heavy stack, building up enough momentum to fully blast it off the screen. As you do this, the stack slowly but surely floats back down.
Well, not always slowly. Meteos takes place across planets with different properties, the most notable one being gravity. High gravity forces you to build up many chains for enough momentum, with the reward of large and satisfying chain opportunities. Conversely, low gravity (usually “easier”) planets rarely offer those opportunities; stacks clear the screen too fast for you to react. Also varied are the rate at which meteos drop and the actual behavior of chains. Don’t say I didn’t warn you when, on one planet, you form a horizontal chain and NOTHING happens.
Each planet has a different audiovisual presentation. The colorful graphics are impressively clean and sleek in some cases, but oddly funky, awkward and hard to navigate in other cases. The music follows suit. Aside from some choice hectic songs, tends towards the simple and sometimes drab variety. Sound effects are specific to each theme – the Caribbean theme, for instance, rewards success with the sound of steel kettle drums. Though a nod to Lumines’ music-mixing oriented audio style, this dynamic sadly sometimes sounds more like cacophony.
Still, the presentation entertains given the right situation, and the variety must be commended. Meteos is more heavily about innovative and intuitive gameplay anyway. Learning your way around is simple, as controlling Meteos is very natural with the touch screen. Thus, you’re expected to handle the cascading torrents even with so little at your disposal. Sounds unfair, but the tactile interaction makes it too devilishly inviting to care. You’ll quickly adapt and learn how to effectively vary the speed of your strokes, and you’ll naturally discover that you can “flick” meteos into the bottom of an airborne stack.
The game comes packed with value, as piles of director Masahiro Sakurai’s Super Smash Bros. influence abound. Sakurai-sama infuses Meteos with several gameplay varieties: story modes; single-planet timed, Nova-limited, or endless modes; options to adjust the Nova limit, planets you combat, special items that you can activate; the list refuses to die. While toying with modes, you’ll discover a plethora of unlockable planets, special meteos, and items. Each can be bought with a bankroll of the meteos that you’ve launched during gameplay. When something you want costs too much, you’re suckered back into the game. Get your new toy, and you’ll be lured in to play with it
This amalgamation and strong execution of many concepts – the traditional color-matching, the intuitive tactile interface, and the overall torrential sensation – make Meteos a new, varied experience. Lumines’ grace and triple-axels are great, but it’s time to chug twenty gallons of water, head to the most volatile snowy mountain you can find, and strap on that proverbial snowboard for an absolute puzzle-game rush. Screw the Dew. Do the Meteos.
[This review was originally written by me, MrCHUPON, for publication in Trigames.NET. It also appears under my handle, MrCHUP0N, on Gamespot.com.]
Community review by mrchupon (March 28, 2006)
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