Meteos (Nintendo DS) Review

By Barry Lewis 24.09.2005

Review for Meteos on Nintendo DS

Puzzle games are a dime a dozen on a new handheld, we can thank good old Tetris for that. The DS from Nintendo with a very puzzle friendly interface is no different, launching with no less than three puzzle games; Polarium, Zoo Keeper and Mr Driller: Drill Spirits. Late to the game, however, come Tetsuya Mizuguchi and Mitsuru Takahashi, Producer and Chief programmer respectively, behind the sublime Rez. But can they live up to their reputation or will Meteos become just another puzzle game?

As with the growing trend there is a small story tacked on the side of Meteos, albeit not a blockbuster (pun intended), but it is solid enough and sporting some reasonably well developed graphics. It is the usual dark time's affair with an evil planet Meteo threatening all others, spewing forth phantasmagoric matter (or Meteors/Meteos), destroying all planets in their path. By chance, though, three Meteo of the same type land together, fuse and launch the other Meteos back into space. Joyous from the lack of annihilation the planets form defence strategies aligning Meteos of different types and launching them into space. The Metamo Ark spaceship, made from Meteo Ore, is created and ventures forth to destroy the evil planet and bring peace to the galaxy once again. Admittedly you do not exactly need a degree in literature to create such a story, but the usage of phantasmagoric matter should make up for any shortcomings!

Aesthetically speaking Meteos bucks the somewhat growing trend of puzzle games being as simple as possible, indeed it doesn’t push the system but is very clean, crisp and vibrant. What could so easily have been the exact same coloured blocks within various levels becomes ever changing - depending on the planet you are playing as – in both shape and colour, and in most cases with great effect. When the Meteos launch you are rewarded with impressive enough flames flooding behind (well they are not that impressive, but do a job), there are horizontal smoke-venting blocks to obscure your vision and hinder gameplay, which is put to good effect. These factors combined with the general life and vibrancy immediately puts a smile on the face, especially after the many puzzle titles of late that opt for a simple few squares and limited palette of colour. While not pushing the DS to the limit Meteos does a fine job at producing a graphically tasty game.

In a very similar vein, comes the sound quality. As noted regarding graphics within the genre, so many developers opt for the easy approach. This can often leave a bitter taste when playing such games. There is only so many times you can listen to the same few uninspiring tracks while the limited array of plinks and plonks from every move before it drains your very will to live. Thankfully, Meteos again bucks the trend! Each planet you can choose from or play as sports its own set of sounds with musical scores and SFX all unique. In total there are around thirty planets each sporting eighty-three different sounds sets. Simple mathematics sets this as roughly two and a half thousand different sound effects and musical tracks. Not only is that alone very impressive by some standards, but the variation within the sound sets keeps impressing; you can be playing as the planet 'Layazero' one moment with its sublime 'Eurorockitude' techno set and the next be playing on 'Anasaze' with the 'Wild West Cowboy' western set. And just to make things even more satisfying are planets such as 'Florias'. If skilled enough you can really start combining moves to create what feels like your very own tune. All this combined through the impressive DS speakers makes Meteos an audible delight.

Screenshot for Meteos on Nintendo DS

It seems puzzle titles enjoy mixing things up, adding their own unique and vastly differing play mechanics to that of their market counterparts. If you have purchased Zoo Keeper for the DS and boot Meteos up expecting the same type of game, well, you will not get very far. Despite being the daddy of the genre Tetris could not be more different either. Sadly, keen to play, I jabbed at the screen like a five-year-old on Christmas morning. In doing this not only did I miss the pleasing introductory story but also the tutor tucked away on the bottom corner of the main 'Meteos' menu. Learn from my mistake!

In addition to the Tutorial within the Meteos game menu you are given four play modes ranging from Simple, Star Trip, Time War and Deluge. Simple is your best start point, you can pick your planet of choice, define the game variables playing either stock (number of lives) or time-based games, you can select up to three CPU players, define their skill, the difficulty of the game and finally you can assign teams. Star Trip can easily be described by the classic 'Starwing' on the SNES, with you following pathways battling planet after planet before reaching Meteo for a final showdown.

There's a bit more depth to the game mechanics than just this process, though. If the fused Meteos were above ground level you can essentially flick up the individual Meteo left behind to join the launched Meteos. This helps in building a secondary combustion, or ping three up and they re-fire the first rockets. There is also a tough to describe combo move in which you launch a block of Meteos, wait for them to come back down and arrange a combo to occur between the launched platform and a static column. Doing this continually increases the size of the platform and you can even manipulate a whole screen of them to launch, which is very rewarding. This all sounds rather easy, but Meteos is adrenaline-fuelled mayhem. In the beginning Meteos fall at a calm rate, you will probably poke the speed up patch or hold a shoulder button to build up numbers and start launching. You simply will not be doing that for long. As the clock ticks away the Meteos start falling at astounding speeds, a typical game lasts around the two-minute mark, but if you find yourself reaching five minutes of play in either battle or a certain game mode they fall faster than you can visibly see. Meteos is focused around panic and reaction; it certainly has that sense of urgency that many of the best puzzlers have.

Within battle it is not only about staying alive, indeed not to let an evil weapon go to waste you actually launch Meteos into space and directly at another planet, you can view all battling planets via a small viewer to the side. This, naturally, also works in reverse so that not only do you have a regular supply of Meteos raining down upon you but also you will frequently have a delivery of a few rows to cope with. This is obviously fundamental in multiplayer games, which also feature single card play, as well as a demo version you can send to friends, as a rather welcome addition. Finally, all Meteos that you launch while playing are saved, and within a Fusion menu you can unlock items, planets and rare materials by spending saved Meteo types. Meteos provides what is easily the best puzzler on Nintendo DS, fast and frantic, solid and well delivered. With a strong enough array of game modes, solid multiplayer and a host of unlockable extras Meteos deserves to be in every DS owner's collection.

Screenshot for Meteos on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

After some good but not excellent puzzle games recently, Meteos is a complete breath of fresh air. The DS is set for several high quality titles from Nintendo over the next few weeks and thankfully this Third-Party puzzler stands proud amongst them. It is impossible to not recommend Meteos, it fully warrants being in the collection of every Nintendo DS owner!









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10 (4 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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