Same Sky
All Worlds Share the Same Sky…

Review: Geometry Wars Galaxies

Don’t let Mario’s Galaxies be the only ones you visit this holiday.

Despite the fine batch of stellar “hardcore” titles that are beginning to hit the Wii in full force, there are still a lot of complaints filed concerning their lock thereof. Unfortunately, even when third parties step up to meet this demand, they are met with mediocre sales. Geometry Wars: Galaxies is another 3rd party effort vying for a sweet spot near the top of the list of the Wii’s quality hardcore titles. It succeeds in that regard, but as a result, it’s not for everyone, as it relies on replayability for its legs.

Shapes in Space!

Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved hit the XBox Live Arcade a while back and took the 360 community by storm, offering a slick arcade shooter for a bite-sized price. Geometry Wars: Galaxies is essentially a more fully-fledged version of the base covered in the appropriately titled Retro Evolved, which is included in the package — but it also has a more fully-fledged price.

The gameplay of Geometry Wars is simple, sweet, and challenging. Essentially, players take control of a vaguely ship-like object, surviving the never-ending onslaught of shapes out to destroy it for as long as they can, racking up their score all the while. This is accomplished by moving the “ship” around with one hand and aiming its cannons with the other. This mechanic requires quick reflexes, superb timing, and periphery vision — essentially, all of the skills inherent in classically hardcore arcade gaming. Any fan of the days of old will feel right at home here, yet receive a blast of refreshment at the same time. Geometry Wars manages to come off as both stylistically retro and modern all rolled into one package.

The simple art style is clean but rife with particle effects.

However, there is one major hitch: playing with a Wii remote/Nunchuk combo here is bust. It feels sluggish, unresponsive, and just plain awkward; connect a Classic Controller, however, and things become an entirely different story. Its easy to see this title was conceptualized for dual-stick play, and it’s tight to behold. No buttons are required — just two sticks. Geometry Wars takes this simplicity and challenges players to master it or be floored by their foes.

The “Galaxies” part of the title stems from the Campaign mode, which expands upon the original concept and takes it to all types of places and back. Almost every level feels oddly new and unique — there are a few throwbacks to earlier stage concepts, but they’re different in some way or at least more challenging. Not only does Galaxies offer up a ton of variety, including subtle throwbacks to arcade classics like Pac-Man and Asteroids, but it also adds an entirely new feature to bolster the main gameplay: a drone. The drone is an AI partner who can serve a variety of roles depending on what the player wants or needs from it. Different levels lend themselves well to particular drone abilities. One ability can be assigned at a time before entering a level and consequently leveled up with use to make it more effective — the drone can snipe, tackle, defend, act as a turret, and more. It can even collect Genomes for you while you focus entirely on mowing down those evil shapes.

Genomes are another new concept which further evolves the base gameplay. Enemies that are defeated will drop little yellow energy bits which can be collected which serve three purposes: they increase the combo counter with each one collected, they unlock new levels, and unlock new abilities for the drone. This adds an excellent risk vs. reward mechanic to the already refined gameplay, forcing players to put their life on the line to reap the benefits, play it safe and steady, or sacrifice their drone’s offensive/defensive ability to collect them.

It’s about as crazy as it looks.

The gameplay to be found here is, in a word, pure. Geometry Wars sometimes lacks the personality and life found in other games, but it is hard to deny its purist take on white-knuckle action gameplay. Every decision made here seems to have the gameplay in mind, from the drone to the genomes, to the simple yet challenging concept, to the way that everything has its own shape and color so as to easily distinguish between them in the thick of battle. It all comes together as a polished pack of arcade gaming goodness.

Of course, being an arcade-oriented title, Geometry Wars Galaxies focuses on replayability to give it legs. While it will take only a few hours to plow through the levels in the game, it takes a hardened gamer to achieve the scores required for Gold Medals on all the levels (which in turn grant more Genomes) and level up every drone ability to max (which in turn makes even higher scores more possible to achieve). Make no mistake: this title is hard as nails once things get rolling. A true action fan will be hooked in no time, and the game lends itself perfectly to both brief gameplay sessions or long marathons — but only to those who crave more of its spot-on gunplay. Gamers more into exploration, story, or anything aside from shooting everything in sight will likely find Geometry Wars to be rather lacking in content though still enjoyable. Even with its multiplayer versus and co-op, it still doesn’t offer the same amount of physical content many other big hitters in the market have to give. However, a Retro Evolved Leaderboard can be accessed through the game itself, with leaderboards for every single level available on the game’s official website, and extra levels can be unlocked by connecting the DS version. So, for the competitive score-munching action gamer, there’s plenty to strive for here.

Think you can handle the heat?

Infinite Replay


Intuitive Control 


Hardcore Difficulty


Steep Learning Curve


Sharp Gameplay 



Score: 4.5/5

Final Verdict:

Geometry Wars Galaxies is a wonderfully refreshing chunk of stylized retro goodness stuffed into a forty dollar box. The gameplay is brilliantly designed in a simple yet refined manner, while the level concepts give room for the gameplay to stretch its legs and run for a few miles. The online leaderboards for Retro Evolved — the rawest challenge in the game — serve as motivation to continue playing even after the Campaign mode is overcome. Its addicting formula will have action fans overcome with the “just one more try” illness. It teeters on the borderline of being worth $40 for general audiences who don’t particularly care for score-crunching — for $30 it’d be a steal, but it also practically requires a Classic Controller to play — and in the end its value all comes down to how much you can squeeze out of replaying action-heavy arcade games to set higher scores. If that sounds like your cup of tea, Geometry Wars Galaxies is a hardcore Wii title you shouldn’t pass up — go buy it right now. Either way, it’s hard to deny the expertly coordinated design choices here. Its gameplay is elegantly simple and pure to what video gaming started off as in the first place, and the leaderboards, extensive campaign mode, multiplayer, and DS/Wii connectivity add a lot of incentive to keep playing what is in and of itself a highly addicting game. The hardcore Wii crowd would be wise to simmer down for five minutes, which is long enough to let this superb shooter slap them in the face and stop their complaints for a while.

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