Falling block games come a dime a dozen, but Meteos puts an entirely new twist on the genre by adding some new features never seen before in a puzzle game. Meteos throws down block after block and your job is to match up three or more of the same color, either vertically or horizontally which turn the blocks around and send them rocketing into outer space. Weird? Yes, but it’s clever and innovative and at least makes the game different from just about every other puzzle game out there. There’s even a story about saving the world from Meteos by sending them right back where they came from by lining them up or something really vague and nondescript, but it’s not important to the overall game.Now, while this may just be a simple puzzle game at least Bandai and Q Entertainment took the time to make the screens and menus look more than presentable. Some of the graphics are downright beautiful! Probably because they only last a few seconds at most and are mostly static shots. The same goes for some of the endings, they showcase some of the best uses of color in a Nintendo DS game yet. Each planet is considered a stage, and every planet has different blocks to match up, in fact, some planets don’t even have blocks, they have other weird shapes, but work in the same way. So, for the sake of argument we’ll just call them blocks. It’s bright, colorful, and pleasing to the eye, which makes Meteos the best looking puzzle game on the Nintendo DS.
You can’t play through Meteos without being impressed by the music. Meteos is from the same brain that brought you Rez, and the PSP puzzler, Lumines; both of those are heavily influenced by music. It’s quite possibly the best music on the DS so far, and there’s so many songs that you may end up wondering how they fit it all onto one small card. The music is atmospheric and helps add to the feel of variation when jumping from planet to planet. Easily the best techno and trance music on a Nintendo console since Tetrisphere on the Nintendo 64.
As stated before, what makes Meteos differ from so many other block puzzles is the fact that after you line them up, they get sent back into the air. Your goal is to provide enough rocket power to propel them back off the screen and towards your rival planet, if not they’ll come right back down and you’ve got to deal with them all over again. If you’re skilled you can send them right back into the air with some clever movements of the blocks beneath. It’s a delicate balancing act that you’ve got to do at a lightning fast pace because the blocks won’t let up for a second. While you’re doing all this you’re battling against another opponent who is doing the same thing and dropping “garbage blocks” on your side which you’ll have to contend with. For that reason some matches may last a minute, while others go for three minutes or more. What’s cool about Meteos is that each planet provides its own atmosphere, so to speak. With every planet you visit the playing area may actually be bigger or smaller than the previous and your playing style has to accommodate each one accordingly. It’s far better than the usual puzzle game where you can master the gameplay in a matter of moments.
The controls are very responsive, too. You can use the directional pad if you choose, but it can’t even hold a candle to the DS’ touch pad and stylus combination. The stylus works well because you can instantly pick it up and move it to the next set of blocks, but at times it seems a bit shaky because the blocks aren’t exactly huge, so you may end up taking the wrong block to the wrong spot and often times it leads you straight to a defeat. This happens, more often than not, though, when in a rush. Speaking of rushing, it has been said that you can just “scribble” your way through the game to victory. I didn’t really find that the case, I suppose it can be done, but when I tried I had absolutely no luck with it.
Meteos is another one of the wonderful Nintendo DS games that allows you play a group of friends using one copy of the game, or if everyone has access to a copy you can play in more game modes. Your player information is passed on to your opponents, so they can see your stats and a message from you. It’s really cool, and hopefully, a precursor to online enabled play with the DS.
Meteos is just good enough to make you see falling blocks when you close your eyes after an extended period of playing it. It’s good enough to keep you coming back to play it until you’ve collected enough Meteos points to earn all the bonus items, planets, and songs for playback. Doing all of this will take at least a week’s worth of steady play and for those who play a few minutes at a time even longer. There’s plenty of replay and with the inclusion of several single player modes and a couple multiplayer modes it’s almost infinite. Plus, there are a few different endings to uncover giving you plenty of reasons to come back and beat the game over and over again.
Meteos is the puzzle game to own on the Nintendo DS, and that does actually mean something because there are several others out there to choose from. The various different play modes are cool and add a little variation to the game even though it’s still the same lining up of blocks each time, but what makes it cool is that each planet has it’s own laws, and reaction of the blocks varies, so there are many different ways to tackle each individual stage. It’s also nice to see that the game is accommodating to left-handed people as well as the more common right-handed person. It would be nice to be able to adjust the sensitivity of the stylus to avoid some of those aforementioned problems, but overall the response is pretty good. All in all Meteos is a well made game that either works for you or doesn’t, though that’s through no fault of the developer’s since they put a lot of time and effort into making this a high quality title.
In the end Meteos is one of the better puzzle games on any system and definitely the puzzle game to own on the DS, but it’s still not exactly addictive as a game like Tetris. Puzzle game fans and those looking for the perfect game to kill a few minutes at a time should look no further than Meteos. While it may not be the one game every DS owner should have it is the one game every DS owner should try before dismissing.
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