TOKYO--The original Meteos launched over three years ago on the Nintendo DS. As multicolored blocks fell to the ground, players had to rearrange them using only vertical movements in order to form a line of three or more identical blocks, which would then launch those blocks (and any above them) toward the top of the screen. The goal was to overcome gravity and clear your blocks by sending them up and out of the play area, and the action was fast and intense. Now Meteos is bound for Xbox Live Arcade, and we tracked it down at the 2008 Tokyo Game Show to see how the new stylus-free version is coming along.
The excitement of Meteos is generated by the quick pace it sets and the quick reflexes it requires. On the Nintendo DS, players could rapidly swipe the stylus along the touch screen to rearrange blocks, but Meteos Wars presents this familiar challenge in a new way. Players can now choose either the left analog stick or the D pad to move their cursor around the block field, and can press X or A to move the selected block up or down respectively. This slows the action down, but the result is just as challenging. In the demo levels we played, we ended up winning only about half of our matches against an AI opponent. It's good to see that the difficulty level has been adjusted to preserve the competitive intensity despite the slower pace.
One of the new elements in Meteos Wars is special attacks. As we were busy shifting and launching our blocks, we were occasionally interrupted by a brief cinematic that showed our opponent bombarding our home planet. The in-game effect was quite disruptive: beams of energy bombed down on us, destroying many columns of our blocks. Though this technically lightened our load, it actually made it more difficult to connect blocks and launch them off the screen. We're told there are more special attacks in the game, though we didn't encounter them during our hands-on time.
Meteos Wars is a two-player game at heart, and in addition to competing against the computer you can take on an opponent locally or over Xbox Live. It seems to preserve the fast-paced puzzle action that made the original Meteos so enjoyable, and looks to add some new twists that will hopefully make the action more intense. Check back here in the coming months for more on the latest version of this puzzle classic.