Previews

Geometry Wars: Galaxies

Preview: Hands-on with the new Nintendo versions

We're all about Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved on XBLA. But as we battled amongst ourselves to reach scores in the millions (Gav was the best), getting dry-eye syndrome and seriously wrecking our thumbs, we never once thought we'd be shooting those annoying green space pixels on anything other than 360. Then Galaxies turned up.

The best thing about Galaxies, in case you missed our exclusive reveal last month, is that it's not just a port of the 360 game. It's so much more than that.

Bizarre Creations has handed its precious shooter over to Kuju to work magic with the Wii and DS versions, and a huge single-player campaign and new multiplayer modes are the fruits of their work. And now we've played it we can tell you all about it.

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Wii screenshot

First up - controls. The controls on both consoles work very well, despite the lack of dual analogue sticks. It worked best on Wii, where you fly the ship around with the analogue on the Nunchuk and shoot by pointing the Wii Remote at the screen in the desired direction and holding B.

It takes a little getting used to, but it worked. A red laser extending from your ship indicates which direction you're aiming, although Kuju says there'll be the option to change that laser to more easily visible crosshairs.

On the DS you have numerous control options. The default configuration, and the only one we tried out, has the action play out on the top screen as you move your ship with the D-pad and direct your fire with the stylus on the lower screen. The centre of the lower screen counts as neutral and your ship fires in the direction you move your stylus in relation to that point.

That worked too. Our only concern with this is the eight-way restriction of the D-pad movement. But Kuju told us they've reached scores in the millions with this configuration. But you can put shooting on the face buttons (if you're an idiot), and you'll also have the option to move the action down to the lower screen so you actually touch where you want to shoot.

Graphics wise, the Wii version looked exactly like the 360 original, minus the high-definition picture, obviously. The DS is slightly less crisp, and doesn't have as many particle effects but it's decent enough. The DS version was also running a little slow on the frame-rate side, but Kuju says that's because it's very early in code - pre-alpha even - and will most certainly be smoothed out for the final game.

Anyway, the single-player campaign is where most of the new features await. It expands on the Retro Evolved concept by placing you in a series of different challenges. When you start the game you're greeted by a huge galaxy map. Within this galaxy are several solar systems which contain eight planets, each planet representing a level.

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Wii screenshot

While these levels retain the core GW gameplay (you're still confined to a small arena in which you shoot enemies), they each pose their own unique challenge. In the version we played, one mission slaps you into an arena much smaller than usual and packs it full of enemies. That isn't easy. Another level is set in a hexagonal arena, which feels strange to our square-arena-trained minds.

But the most interesting stage we played was a circular grid with a central force that spins the gravity anti-clockwise in the entire arena - like a giant black hole, but invulnerable.

It can't physically harm you - you can fly straight through it - the the massive spinning force it creates play havoc with your battle to shoot the legions of other enemies that appear. It's cool - the blue grid in the background spins and the enemies flail all over the place. You can see it in one of the screens below.

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