Q? Entertainment has been a great supporter for Xbox Live Arcade releasing their successful games that were in previous systems for the current generation of consoles. Lumines Live, Every Extend Extra Extreme, and Rez HD have been wonderful games for the 360 with their artistic experiences of combining visuals and music. Meteos Wars is their fourth game on Xbox Live Arcade being a HD version of Meteos, which originally came out on the Nintendo DS in 2005. For those who never played Meteos before this one like me, it is an unique puzzle game matching up puzzle blocks to launch up rockets to the sky. It is as addictive as other puzzle games like Lumines as well as easy to pick up and play once you understand the core concepts. For this Xbox Live Arcade version, stylus-based controls that were in the DS original are replaced by the controller along with HD graphics and online play. Even though it is Q Entertainment's worst downloadable game so far compared to their previous games, Meteos Wars is still worth playing if you're a fan of the franchise and the developer themselves.
Meteos Wars has three single-player modes and online play, a first for the franchise. If you want to play alone, there is the Mission Mode, in which you face off against seven other planets on varying difficulties in succession. The object of competitive play is outlasting your opponent by letting their screen fill up to the top (at least one column is required) or outscoring them if under a time limit. On harder difficulties, the computer A.I. will give you a fight as good skills and fast reflexes are required to defeat them. This mode is worth it for the challenge, but the attack modes like 1-minute attack, 100 meteo-attack, and challenge attack are also worth playing testing various skills whether to score fast or survive. Multiplayer consists of both local and online by matchmaking. The online aspect of Meteos Wars is arguably the most disappointing feature with the majority of matches against online opponents lagging from the start. As a fast and frantic puzzle game, any sense of lag just makes the game feel slow and clunky, which is really unfortunate. Plus, there is not a lot of people that play it online which also takes a while to find matches.
The core gameplay of Meteos Wars borders down to whether or not you like the controls. Those who played it previously on the DS, the touch-based controls feel right for speed and precision. On the 360 controller, moving pieces around consist of either the right analog stick or the face buttons, which feel slow compared to the DS controls. Those who never played Meteos on DS will adjust to the pad-based controls, but I can tell why this game is meant for a stylus. There is a diverse selection of planets to choose from to face off against CPU opponents or online. Certain characteristics like how the speed of rockets go up, the type of pieces used, and the size of the board do matter when choosing a planet to use. In addition, the Planetary Impact, a new gameplay feature for this version of Meteos, allows planets to do special attacks against the opposition like giving them a crater of unusable blocks or a beam that can eliminate columns of blocks. More planets are unlocked by beating the Mission mode a number of times on varied difficulties as well as accessories to dress up an avatar for doing certain tasks and achievements.
Graphically, the XBLA version of Meteos looks good enough in high definition. On certain planets, the pieces can look small compared to planets that have bigger boards which could be a little distracting at first. Of course, it is not as graphically intensive compared to their previous games like Rez HD since it is a straight out puzzler. There is no sense of slowdown during gameplay other than the occasional lag online as well. As for the sound, it delivers just like Lumines with various electronic tunes and the fusion of music into the gameplay when different sound effects come out as rockets are getting blasted to the sky.
Despite control issues and a lack of modes to play, Meteos Wars is still a good puzzle game for 800 Microsoft Points (ten dollars). The gameplay is still as addictive like previous versions for both solo and competitive play. The amount of planets to choose from and learning how to master the gameplay makes it surprisingly deep (If you know how to screen clear effectively, you will dominate online). There is enough replay value offered in terms of unlocking more planets, accessories, getting all 200 achievement points, and downloadable content. There is also a great stat system that tracks everything you done in the game from how many times you beaten mission mode, your online win/loss record, and other gameplay related stats. The online multiplayer is a disappointment as you are bound to run into a laggy match almost every time. If you love puzzle games that can be played in short bursts or a fan of Q Entertainment, Meteos Wars is worth your time and money.
- The core gameplay of matching up blocks to build rockets translates well in HD
- Great puzzle game that can be played in short bursts
- The execution of the audio into the gameplay lives up to the developer's pedigree
- Enough replay value to keep players busy (unlocking more planets and accessories)
- The 360 pad-based controls feel slow compared to DS touch-based controls
- The online multiplayer is a big disappointment thanks to lag happening in the majority of matches being played
- Lack of modes (both single and multiplayer) - Maybe more will added as DLC