Geometry Wars: Galaxies Hands-On

We do battle with all manner of dangerous shapes as we check out both the Wii and DS versions of this insane shooter.

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Earlier this week, during a meeting with Sierra Games, we had an opportunity to spend some time playing pre-alpha versions of Geometry Wars: Galaxies for both the Wii and the DS. Both games will feature a version of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved (the Xbox Live Arcade game) that has been enhanced with multiplayer features, and both will let you share that game with DS owners who have yet to invest in their own copy of Galaxies. But we concentrated on the all-new "Galaxies" content for the most part on this occasion because that's been the unknown quantity until now.

Galaxies mode is divided up into a number of different solar systems (there are at least six or seven on the map already), and each of those contains a number of planets. The solar system that we were allowed into during our demo was composed of eight planets. To give you some idea of how much new content there's going to be, if Retro Evolved were incorporated into Galaxies, it would equate to just one planet. The number of planets and solar systems that will be included in Geometry Wars: Galaxies hasn't been finalized at the time of writing, but having checked out three very different planets during our meeting, we can report that there is unlikely to be any shortage of variety.

Before we get specific about the three planets that we played on the Wii or about the different enemies and hazards that we encountered, there's one new gameplay feature that we simply have to talk about--your drone. In Galaxies mode, you'll be accompanied by an indestructible drone at all times. The drone will follow you around like a puppy as you fly around the pulsating blue grid. You'll determine its behavior and role by choosing from a number of options before the level gets underway. You'll also unlock new behavior types and the like as you progress through the game. Although we only got to see three different ones in action on this occasion, we're told that there will be "a lot" from which to choose. The basic behaviors that we experimented with were attack, which had the drone firing on the same targets that we targeted; defend, which saw the drone firing on targets automatically regardless of which direction they were in; and collect, which tasked the drone with collecting "Geoms"--the in-game currency--that many enemies drop when you destroy them. Geoms will be used to purchase new behaviors, weapons, and other drone upgrades in the finished game. We're also told that choosing the right drone setups for the right planets will be crucial if you're hoping to achieve a gold, rather than silver or bronze, medal.

The full version of Retro Evolved will be included with Galaxies.

The first level that we checked out, titled Enemy Storm, was played on a square grid noticeably smaller than the rectangular one seen in previous Geometry Wars games. The enemies, on the other hand, were significantly bigger and, initially, seemed oblivious to our presence. But that all changed once we opened fire and realized that the enemies on this particular planet work in much the same way as the titular asteroids in Atari's classic arcade game. Every enemy that we shot turned into two smaller ones until they got to be about the same size as our ship. Shooting them at that point caused them to explode into a dozen or so enemies that we recognized from Retro Evolved. Needless to say, the ever-increasing number of enemies coupled with the small play area made for some hectic gameplay. We found the experience quite different from playing the Xbox Live Arcade game, as well as different from what we expected.

Next up was a more familiar-looking level called Neo Classical. The playing area was the same rectangular grid used in previous games, but in amongst the usual assortment of enemies, there were a few that we didn't recognize. For example, the vivid blue "mutator" that looks like a scribble made up of perfectly straight lines was an interesting one because while it's more or less harmless on its own, it has the ability to turn every other enemy that it touches into a new, aggressive, and unpredictable enemy type. The "generator" enemies posed a new challenge as well; they're red circles that spew out more traditional enemies in huge numbers and are only vulnerable to attack when they turn blue, which isn't very often. The other new enemy that we noticed was a UFO that, like those in Asteroids or Space Invaders, will spawn quite randomly and will be worth a large number of points if you manage to shoot it before it flies off the screen.

The Orbiter level that we had a go at toward the end of our meeting will purportedly be one of the more difficult ones in Galaxies mode and is played on a relatively small hexagonal grid. The level's most distinguishing feature was a gravity well in the center that, like a plughole, caused everything in the level to spiral toward it. At regular intervals, the gravity well would go into reverse for a time, switching from counter-clockwise to clockwise and pushing everything away from it. The currents caused by the gravity well made controlling the ship quite difficult. The fact that enemies and even our bullets were affected in the same way didn't help much either.

Retro Evolved is the equivalent of just one Galaxies level.

Not to turn this preview into a list of excuses as to why our performance on the Orbiter level was less than stellar, but it also takes some getting used to the Wii game's default controls. Using the Nunchuk's analog stick to steer the craft is no different than on the Xbox 360, of course, but moving the Wii Remote to point in the direction that you want to fire in is tricky at best. A thin red line resembling a laser sight gives you an indication of which direction you're pointing in when there are no bullets flying to do that, but it's not always easy to make out. We're also told that a number of other aiming reticles and such are currently being considered.

Although it's also still very much a work in progress, the DS version of Geometry Wars: Galaxies was a lot easier to pick up than its Wii counterpart. The default control scheme has you using the D pad to steer your ship. Then you use either the four face buttons or the stylus and touch screen to fire. The buttons do a reasonable job of giving you the freedom to shoot in any direction, but they're certainly no substitute for an analog stick--not yet, anyway. Using the stylus was much easier, and although we were playing the game on the upper screen while using the touch screen to indicate our direction of fire, we're told that the finished game will give you the option to play the game on the touch screen while using the same control setup. The developers are also experimenting with different control configurations for left-handed players and might even go so far as to include an option that lets you play the game while holding the DS upside down so you can use the D pad with your right hand.

Most of the enemies are familiar, but be on the lookout for new ones.

Just before our meeting came to an end, we had an opportunity to spend a few minutes playing a competitive two-player game of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. The game played out exactly like the single-player experience, except that there were two of us flying around inside the level simultaneously. And because we were both trying to kill the same enemies, there was an even greater sense of urgency than usual. In the finished game, you'll be able to customize multiplayer games by deciding how many lives or bombs each player has. For cooperative games, you'll also have the option to have both players use a shared pool of lives and bombs if you wish. Both versions of Geometry Wars: Galaxies will have at least four multiplayer modes available, one of which won't be found in the other version. One of the modes that we're most excited to find out more about is a "friend versus foe" game in which, we're led to believe, one player will control the ship as normal while the other manipulates the enemies somehow.

Both the DS and Wii versions of Geometry Wars: Galaxies will feature online leaderboards much like those on Xbox Live Arcade. Furthermore, if you own both games, you'll be able to link them and gain access to otherwise unavailable levels with their own leaderboards. Geometry Wars: Galaxies is currently scheduled for release later this year, and we look forward to bringing you more information as soon as it becomes available.

Discussion

53 comments
zerox0409
zerox0409

"greystone227 I'm kind of skeptical about the Wii remote controls. If I were to buy this game" "DouglasBuffone I love Geometry Wars, I am a bit skeptical about the controls but it does look very good" but it also takes some getting used to the Wii game's "DEFAULT CONTROLS" meaning there will be more ways to control the game, I very seriously doubt that they WON'T include the Classic Controller as an optional method.

natester10
natester10

WOW I CANT WAIT FOR THIS TO HIT THE DS...a full version of Retro Evolved with it? Sweet :D

s0njas0n
s0njas0n

looks painful to watch for a long time.

DouglasBuffone
DouglasBuffone

I love Geometry Wars, I am a bit skeptical about the controls but it does look very good!

greystone227
greystone227

I'm kind of skeptical about the Wii remote controls. If I were to buy this game, I think I would get the DS version, because it sounds way easier to control (as long as they put in that option where you get to play the game on the touch screen). I think they need to add in some alternate control schemes for the WIi. Like, maybe instead of having the laser sight, you could have an on-screen cursor. Maybe you could even twist the WiiMote like a key to pick direction of fire. I don't know, I would just like to have some more options.

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

The Wii mote sounds like it will make this game a whole lot harder to control.

ultimateshadowx
ultimateshadowx

I hope it provides support for the classic controller...

mrmugen53
mrmugen53

Actually doctor, it is true. If you wanted to just compete over the internet for a high score, with independent screens, a la Dirt, then yes you could do it without many problems. However, if you wanted to do straight up versus with both ships on the screen at the same time trying to steal each other's points, being able to see what the other person is doing, that wouldn't be possible. The game may be only a 2D shooter, but that doesn't mean there isn't a ton more information going back and forth over the internet than other games that might look a lot better like a Gears of War or R6 Vegas. As pretty as those games look, the only things being sent over the internet are relative positions of a handful of players and their interactions. Geometry Wars would have to track hundreds of items on-screen at once, plus interactions. The net code would be a lot more complex than you think... Trust me ;)

doctorteeth
doctorteeth

Ummm, I don't think that's true there, mrmugen53. There are plenty of games that handle much, much more online than just a 2D shooter. Every particle and explosion isn't transferred over the line, just the instructions on what did blow up and where each particle is located. That is a much smaller amount of information, and the console and game handle the rest.

705H1R0
705H1R0

I am so getting a DS.

mrmugen53
mrmugen53

[quote] I agree with death masta. I think this game can be one of the Wii's killer apps if nintendo would man up and support online play.[/quote] Geometry Wars wouldn't work as an online game regardless of Nintendo supporting it or not. With all the enemies/explosions/particles onscreen at the same time, you would run into huge latency issues. There is no way to keep all that information sync'd up on both screens over an internet connection, especially with Nintendo's slow servers.

Tetragrammaton_
Tetragrammaton_

I've wanted to play this ever scence that episode of button mashing were it was is the "owned" segment.

JonnyAMax
JonnyAMax

If they make workable smooth controls for the DS version, I'll eat my hat. I would SO love to have this game on the go.

RorshachV
RorshachV

I don't think it's possible for me to want this game more than I already do. Also, it would be awesome if the game came out for the iPhone. Get on it Jobs!

omegacis
omegacis

I've broken 4 million in this game and I honestly don't think this game can be done without analogs. I mean a stylus should be cool but I still can't imagine it and an 8-direction Dpad being as accurate and responsive as a pair of analogs. Although this game should provide some thrills for those waiting to play it for other consoles, I highly doubt it will do anything for the serious GeoWar vets. Look to see a bunch of people running back to their 360 version after trying out the Nintendo consoles' iterations.

Dark_Nexus3367
Dark_Nexus3367

Nintendo really needs online on the Wii, especially for games like metroid and smash bros. brawl, which i think would be perfect for multiplayer.Looking forward to Galaxies, looks better than Retro Evolved for 360 which was already a fantastic game.I say this game looks awesome, but i might get the DS version over the Wii since they talked about how they had some minor difficulties with the Wii controls.Don't get me wrong both versions will rock but i think the DS version will have better controls so it will be better suited for a quick play.

RyoxSinfar
RyoxSinfar

This game NEEDS to be for the iPhone!!!!, think about it, multi-touch: One finger moves, the other shoots! I've had dreams about it, it must be true

jumalinen
jumalinen

I agree with death masta. I think this game can be one of the Wii's killer apps if nintendo would man up and support online play.

Death_Masta187
Death_Masta187

I'm surprised how much one will get with this game... I think my Wii will be happy to play this game when it comes out...Now if Nintendo would get their act together and start supporting online gaming on the Wii I think the Wii would be even better...

N15PCA
N15PCA

Their finally doing something with the Wii and DS. Has far downloading a game from the Wii to the DS.

AL13NK1LL3R
AL13NK1LL3R

sounds awesome, i mean this is goin be online which is add fun to the game! but i feel somwhat on wii controlls but i'll still get it cause i love this game on 360.. its still the best xboxlive arcade out there :D

emadkkk
emadkkk

i love this games music soo much it pumps u up alot

s3ank1ms
s3ank1ms

might think about buying this

peeweeshift
peeweeshift

that is pretty awesome. they were able to get this work on ds which is a great feat. good job.

Meptron
Meptron

JoeAdvanced, do you actually know what a port is? Because this game clearly isn't one.

JoeAdvanced
JoeAdvanced

Wow, a 360 game porting to Nintendo's console? I didn't see this coming...

glitchgeeman
glitchgeeman

Wow, I never knew you could make an arcade-style game so deep and complex, but I have to say, I'm actually really interested in how this game turns out.

mrmugen53
mrmugen53

"Do they mean that if you had the Wii version, you could download Retro Evolved onto your DS???????????????" Yes, but since it goes into the DS's flash memory it would probably disappear when you turn it off. Still, cool way to share with your friends when they come over.

TJ32
TJ32

I'll probably just gt the DS version. It seems like with the planets and stuff it's more bite sized.

Gamingcucumber
Gamingcucumber

WoW this game really impress me. It really shows how much ambition can do. I mean how many Wii and DS titles doesn't even have leaderboards? Or half as many game options? Props to the Geometry wars team!

derangedphoenix
derangedphoenix

"we had an opportunity to spend some time playing pre-alpha versions of Geometry Wars: Galaxies for both the Wii and the DS. Both games will feature a version of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved (the Xbox Live Arcade game) that has been enhanced with multiplayer features, and both will let you share that game with DS owners who have yet to invest in their own copy of Galaxies." Do they mean that if you had the Wii version, you could download Retro Evolved onto your DS???????????????

DaBigTickett
DaBigTickett

I can not wait for this to be released already.

atomD21
atomD21

I am seriously looking forward to being able to take some crazy GW action with me wherever I go...

Kayrod29
Kayrod29

WTH, why not 360???? Bring this to 360!!!

expert-yeti
expert-yeti

This game looks very interesting; I really think that these "behaviors" are going to be really fun to collect and mess around with. Also, the fact that Retro Evolved comes with the game is an awesome feature in and of itself.

mrmugen53
mrmugen53

The game isn't coming to 360 because i bet it will be getting an exclusive new game too. Just a hunch. Oh and classic controller will be supported, so you can use dual analog on the wii if you want. Even if the game is $39.99, it seems like a lot of content. Lots of planets, different game modes, multiplayer...if people payed $39.99 for Super Monkey Ball on wii, i don't see why they wouldn't pay that for this.

JMart0492
JMart0492

If the prices are reasonable, I'll probably be picking up both games so I could get those extra levels8)

grafkhun
grafkhun

cool, i hope the controls turn out good.

rexdeaz
rexdeaz

anyone know why this game isn't coming to 360? if it's not, and this may sound strange, i think i just found my reason to get a wii.

icarus212001
icarus212001

if they could have it so u could play with the gc controller or classic controller, i'm getting this game on day 1!!!!!!!!!

Ansset
Ansset

I really hope this does not hit the Wii as a $50 game. I will just have to wait unitl it drops. My killer price point estimate for mass sales would be $29.

Rob_101
Rob_101

I hope they include support for the classic controller so we can use the duel analog setup instead (in case the wiimote control totally sucks). RE4 Wii edition has support for all controllers, I expect this to have it too :)