Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

XG Blast! (Nintendo DS) Review

Review for XG Blast! on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Back in late 2007, Kuju Entertainment and Bizarre Creations brought Geometry Wars to the Nintendo DS in the new and improved form of Geometry Wars: Galaxies. Clearly inspired the success of Galaxies, Italian indie developer Next Wave Team has created XG Blast!, a remarkably similar game that aims to win players over with a handful of new features.

At its most basic level, XG Blast! is almost identical to its pseudo spiritual predecessor. As the player you are tasked with flying the Aknathen, an experimental spaceship with a ton of firepower, around a selection of increasingly claustrophobic spaces as swarms of foes relentlessly descend upon you. Your only hope of survival is to carefully manoeuvre (using the D-Pad) around said foes while unleashing volleys of laser fire (using buttons or the stylus) back at them.

Comparisons to Geometry Wars don't stop there, though. The two games also share the same visual style. GW fans will immediately recognize the simple geometric shapes that represent foes; the dark, star-filled levels with their glowing boundaries; and the constant barrage of luminous particle effects. This decidedly retro approach to graphics is, as it was with GW, a suitable throwback to the era from which XG Blast! takes its inspiration, but it's no longer as exciting.

The game's mechanics offer a little more innovation, but not enough to change the underlying formula in any truly significant ways. In addition to the standard laser weapon, a selection of additional weapons that vary in terms of power, rate of fire, spread, and precision, can be found in most levels (arenas). Utilising the strengths of each becomes increasingly important when you are forced to overcome more challenging arenas with only one or two at your disposal.

Screenshot for XG Blast! on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

XG Blast!'s defining feature, however, is the one from which it derives its name. The XG Blast is a "powerful gravitational weapon" that can wipe out hordes in enemies in one fell swoop. Using the XG Blast requires power, and power can only be recuperated by collecting gems dropped by downed enemies. The devastating (and renewable) power of the weapon has allowed Next Wave Team to include large numbers of deadly kamikaze enemies that would be totally unmanageable without it.

The inclusion of these weapons helps introduce an element of strategy to an otherwise entirely reflex-based genre. While good reflexes are still the deciding factor in whether or not you're successful, balancing your health meter with your XG Blast meter is perhaps equally important. Both health and power can be regained over time, but some swarms of foes will be almost unconquerable without sufficient XG Blast energy at your disposal.

Making strategic decisions with a screen full of enemies baring down on your position can be daunting, but also exhilarating. Thankfully XG Blast! does a fairly good job of easing you into the action gently, at least at first. The single player portion of the game is broken down into numerous zones, each containing a selection of arenas. Each zone is more difficult than the last, and the final arena in each zone features a mammoth boss to truly put your skills to the test.

Unfortunately, consistent difficultly balancing is not something that XG Blast! does particularly well. The aforementioned bosses, for example, vary from ridiculously easy to ridiculously brutal depending on how much XG Blast juice you have at your disposal. Standard arenas also have a habit of spiking in difficulty at the worst possible moment, a fact that wouldn't be quite so frustrating if you weren't forced to restart a zone from the beginning upon losing all of your lives.

Screenshot for XG Blast! on Nintendo DS - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

If you have ever played Geometry Wars before you'll know what to expect here. The XG Blast mechanic does help introduce an element of strategy to an other reflex-based genre, however.

Graphics

There's little here that you haven't seen before, and while the novelty has somewhat worn off by now, the barrage of flashy particle effects looks as nice as ever.

Sound

Despite being almost entirely overshadowed by constant sounds effects, the fast-paced techno beats serve their purpose by maintaining a sense of urgency and tension well enough.

Value

Brutally tough arenas complement the option to return to any previous arena in Survival mode in order to improve your high score. Local multi-card multiplayer also makes an appearance.

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Good - Bronze Award

About this score
Rated 7 out of 10

It's impossible to look at XG Blast! without being reminded of Geometry Wars. Indeed, the game itself does little to refute the similarities, although it does offer a few embellishments to keep things interesting. The XG Blast mechanic in particular helps to mix things up just enough to keep you on your toes without significantly altering the tried and tested underlying formula. Ultimately, however, a somewhat frustrating difficulty curve and an overall lack of originality ensures that there is little reason to recommend this over Geometry Wars: Galaxies, despite the two game's comparable competence.

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12.02.2009

5

6414

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Developer

Next Wave

Publisher

Rising Star

Genre

Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (3 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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Shame it sounds so similar to Geometry Wars...good work Karn. Smilie

( Edited 12.02.2009 15:57 by Mason )

It's a shame, because there is very little wrong with the game itself. My biggest complaint (the sudden shifts in difficulty here and there) isn't game breaking, and will probably appeal to classic arcade fans.

The whole experience is simply too similar to what Galaxies already offers to get excited about. Especially when the latter is currently a fair bit cheaper than the former due to its relative age.

Ta, though. Smilie


Cubed3 Staff < Retro Editor :: Previews Editor >
Senior ModeratorStaff Member

Okay, colour me intrigued! Had no idea what this was about...but a Geom Wars clone? Sounds good to me! Smilie

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

Hey, I am playing this game and it is really, really fun! and... it is not Geom Wars Smilie

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