Meteos Wars (Xbox 360) review
"When I first started playing this game, I felt like I was being dropped into the fastest level of Tetris with no warning. While I now feel I've gotten the hang of things, it still moves fast enough to demand all my concentration in order to top my computer opponent. While each contest only lasts three minutes, that time seems an eternity as I frantically try to keep from being overwhelmed by the blocks quickly filling my side of the screen, while attempting to craft large enough combos to put the computer in a world of hurt."
It really didn't take long for Meteos Wars to transform from a block-matching puzzle game to an addictive substance that wasted no time chaining me to it. By my count, that process only took a scant handful of minutes and happened so seamlessly that I hadn't even realized anything was amiss until I stared at my clock last night and realized that a planned 30 minutes or so with the game had turned into something like three or four hours.
Back when I was college, my friends and I tended to cluster around my computer fairly regularly to attempt besting each others' scores in Tetris. Those were good times, full of creative trash talk and resulting in a Top 10 scoreboard for my game that was quite intimidating to the casual player. Meteos Wars brought back fond memories of those days, but ramped things up to insane levels. When I first started playing this game, I felt like I was being dropped into the fastest level of Tetris with no warning. While I now feel I've gotten the hang of things, it still moves fast enough to demand all my concentration in order to top my computer opponent. While each contest only lasts three minutes, that time seems an eternity as I frantically try to keep from being overwhelmed by the blocks quickly filling my side of the screen, while attempting to craft large enough combos to put the computer in a world of hurt.
The mechanics of Meteos Wars fit into that "simple, yet really complex" category. All you have to do is match three or more same-colored blocks (called "Meteos") in either a horizontal or vertical row by moving them up or down in their rows one space at a time while additional blocks constantly fall onto the screen. Making a match causes all the blocks above the matched ones in all affected rows to "lift off" towards the top of the screen before slowly descending back down. Any blocks that reach the top of the screen will disappear, giving you more room to work with (as the game ends if any row builds all the way up to the top).
However, while blocks are being propelled, you can manipulate them to great advantage. Create a match among blocks in mid-air and you'll force a second lift-off which tends to send most (if not all) of that group off the screen. Or, if you can create a match between that group and ones it will land next to when it falls back down, both the initial group and the new one will ascend towards the skies. Creating large enough combos works towards your benefit, as that will cause large numbers of blocks to fall into your opponent's screen; while activating various items also can swing the momentum in your favor.
There is some sort of story in this game involving evil aliens attacking planets or something like that, but the only meaning that had for me involved those actual planets. Not only are there musical and graphical differences between various ones, but aspects of the game's mechanics are altered, giving Meteos Wars tons of replay value. Some planets have high gravity, making you have to work to blast blocks off the screen. Others have really low gravity, making it tough to get big combos, as just about anything you'll do will send all involved blocks into orbit. With some, vertical matches work out great; with others, you only want to make them as a last resort to clear out part of a row. And to added to the replay value, there are multiple gameplay modes (including multiplayer for you more sociable people) and difficulty levels, as well as a number of additional planets and other goodies that can be unlocked.
And I did feel I had accomplished something just by getting those initial wins over the computer. While a round of this game might start out tamely, with few blocks on the screen and new ones dropping slowly, it gets hectic quickly. As you and your computer (or human) opponent make more and larger combos, blocks start flying onto the screen, making it a Herculean task to not be overwhelmed by the shear chaos. Like I said, each game only lasts for a maximum of three minutes. Before I got the hang of how to play it, I considered it a moral victory if I lasted for much longer than one.
The way Meteo Wars tends to wind up moving at a frenetic pace does lead to one minor problem. Originally, this game was on the DS and players used the touch-screen stylus to move blocks up and down. With a control pad, you have to manually scroll from one side of the screen to the other -- which can become an issue in a game where speed and reflexes are important keys to victory. I've lost more than once just because I couldn't get from one side of the screen to the other quickly enough to make a match before one row of blocks reached the top.
Still, my reaction to something like that was just to play another game. There are just too many good things about Meteos Wars for me to be that upset over one issue caused by transferring it from one system to another. I can't think of a game of this sort that's got me this hooked so effortlessly than Tetris back in the day. It's fast-paced and intense, but has a nice amount of depth which forces me to make adjustments to my strategy depending on what planet I'm on in order to give me a better chance of winning. Yeah, this game's looking like the perfect diversion to pass a half hour or so from time to time -- as long as I keep an eye on my clock to make sure those 30 minutes don't turn into an entire evening!
Staff review by Rob Hamilton (January 08, 2009)
Rob Hamilton is the official drunken master of review writing for Honestgamers.
If you enjoyed this Meteos Wars review, you're encouraged to discuss it with the author and with other members of the site's community. If you don't already have an HonestGamers account, you can sign up for one in a snap. Thank you for reading!