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Geometry Wars: Galaxies

by Aaron Kaluszka - December 5, 2007, 2:55 pm EST
Total comments: 11


A game with Galaxy in the name featuring gravity effects? This sounds familiar.

Geometry Wars: Galaxies is a fleshed out version of the Xbox Live Arcade space shooter title, Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved. It was at one time the most-downloaded game from Xbox Live Arcade, which is especially impressive given the fact that the original creators “wanted to give the game away for free" “as a gift to hardcore gamers," but were forced by Microsoft to charge for it. Yet, with its simple downloadable origins, what does Galaxies do to make a disc-based version worth it?

Geometry Wars bills itself as an extreme adaptation of the arcade classic, Asteroids. While this is only nominally true, Geometry Wars does embody the classic gameplay style of early arcade games, extending it with capabilities of more modern gaming hardware. Similar to Asteroids, all graphics are made up of 2-D vector-style shapes, though with considerably more special effects than the 1979 inspiration. Whereas in Asteroids, direction, acceleration, and shooting direction are all tied together, Geometry Wars decouples these, which makes for a very different game. Yet, the goal remains the same: destroy everything on-screen to rack up points while avoiding your own ship's destruction for as long as possible.

Galaxies includes two control schemes. The first uses the Nunchuk’s analog stick to move the ship, while the Remote pointer sets the direction of fire. The direction is indicated by a laser line, and the actual firing is performed with A. This control scheme works very naturally and is good for new players. It allows players to quickly spread fire across 360 degrees. The second control type uses dual analog sticks like the original and requires a classic controller. By using this control scheme, the gameplay changes significantly, which seems to work better in more frantic situations. The left stick controls movement while the right stick controls the direction of fire as well as doing the firing itself. This scheme is more suited for evading enemies while firing backwards to destroy the pursuers. The octagon shape surrounding the control sticks are a minor nuisance since they make it harder to precisely shoot at angles other than the eight set directions. The Z (or L) trigger is used to set off a bomb, which destroys all enemies on screen and should be used as a last resort due to its rarity.

There are about a dozen enemy types, represented by different shapes and colors, including several that are new to Galaxies. These enemies have various levels of tracking ability; some will wander aimlessly, others will directly pursue your ship, and still others will actively avoid your shots. The circle enemy sits quietly until shot, after which it unleashes a gravity-altering stream, which can either suck in surrounding enemies or repel shots. Wave upon wave of enemies appears in an attempt to overwhelm the player spatially and mentally.

Geometry Wars: Galaxies includes ten galaxies, each with around half a dozen planets, for a grand total of 64 stages. While Retro Evolved was limited to a single rectangular playing field, Galaxies includes many oddly-shaped levels. Some levels include walls that move, indestructible ships that lay mines, or gravity effects, each which change the game’s dynamic. There are also levels inspired by Asteroids that include larger ships that break into smaller ships when destroyed. Each level includes three scoring goals, bronze, silver, and gold, and keeps its own high score. Even better, each stage includes its own online leaderboard, so the truly ambitious can seek to slot their name for all to see online. Each level also has a set number of starting ships and bombs. The only real annoyance with levels is that their method of indicating content is based on their name, so players must decipher prefixes to find the styles of stages that they want to play.

Aside from level variation, two major additions have been made to Galaxies in comparison to Retro Evolved. The first are geoms, small objects left behind by nearly every destroyed ship. These geoms serve two purposes. For each on collected in a stage, the score multiplier increases by one until your ship is destroyed. This results in ridiculously huge scores, potentially up in the hundreds of billions despite the lowest-valued enemy only giving 25 base points. The multiplier can increase to a maximum of 150. Geoms also act as the game’s currency. Players use geoms to unlock galaxies and planets. The addition of geoms changes the game dynamic somewhat. Players are encouraged to fly into the location of their enemies rather than always maintaining distance. Neither style is really better or worse, just different.

The second addition is the drone, a small option-like ship that accompanies your own ship. There are eight drone types that can be unlocked with geoms. The various drones may launch their own attacks, collect geoms, or my favorite, a rapidly-encircling variety that effectively forms a shield around your ship. Each drone receives experience points based on play time when used, which lead to increased capability.

The game’s simple nature means that there are no load times, and the playfield literally pops right out of the menu system and then collapses back at Game Over. It’s just too bad that the entire game couldn’t just be loaded onto the Wii’s memory storage so you could play it without the disc.

Multiplayer is another new feature in Galaxies. Two multiplayer modes are available, co-op and versus. In both modes, both players play on the same field simultaneously. In co-op, players share lives, bombs, and score, while in versus, each of these components is individual to each player. There is only one galaxy available in multiplayer mode.

Galaxies also includes two versions of Retro Evolved, so players can experience the version that made the franchise famous. The first version is playable on Wii and includes its own online leaderboard. The second is the first downloadable DS game from the Wii system. Communication happens quickly, letting players take the game on the go. DS connectivity doesn’t end there, however. If players purchase the DS version of Galaxies, an extra galaxy is unlocked on both the Wii and DS games.

Geometry Wars: Galaxies will appeal to fans of arcade-style gameplay. It keeps its action simple, but intense. The stylistic effects integrate eye candy with challenge and require players to have a good combination of direct attention and peripheral vision. Galaxies improves upon the Retro Evolved experience, giving it depth with new and compelling characteristics, while maintaining the soul of the original. Beyond the addictive gameplay, the online leaderboards are sure to keep players challenged for a good while.


Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
6.5 5 9.5 8 9 8

Intentionally simple, Galaxies is designed to wow players with the sheer number of colorful objects on the screen. While the game runs as smoothly as its Xbox 360 counterpart, the brightness seems toned down, which makes it easier to see what’s going on, but slightly less mind-blowing to watch.


The music is mostly made up of generic techno. The Asteroid-inspired levels feature music based on the original Asteroids bloops, which is cute, but in general, you may as well just play your own background music.


With classic and the new pointer control, Galaxies makes it easy to play. Pointer controls are intuitive and responsive for beginners, while dual-analog control will likely be preferred by veterans since it works better when the game gets more frantic. Unfortunately, a Classic Controller is required for the latter since there is no GameCube controller support.


Fans of arcade-style games where as much action is packed onto the screen as possible will enjoy Galaxies. The game’s simple nature makes the game especially good for shorter gaming sessions, as long as you manage pull yourself away after a few games.


At first, I was wondering how long the game could possibly last. Yet, the gameplay becomes addictive, and the level variety is decent. High score junkies should especially love this game, with its crazy score multipliers and resulting scores in the hundreds of billions.


While it might have been better suited as a Wii Ware game, Geometry Wars: Galaxies expands upon Retro Evolved in a great way. The large number of levels and ship upgrades, along with online leaderboards, extend the simple arcade concept without over-complicating the gameplay.


  • Addictive arcade-style gameplay
  • Downloadable DS version of Retro Evolved
  • Online leaderboards
  • Levels aren’t especially diverse
  • No GameCube controller support
  • Weak soundtrack
Review Page 2: Conclusion


Flames_of_chaosLukasz Balicki, Staff AlumnusDecember 05, 2007

Do you think its worth owning the Wii and DS versions?

Well the thing with the DS version is that it runs significantly slower than the Wii version (and with reduced graphics). The games are the same, and it is nice to be able to take it on the go. In the DS version, there are two control schemes. First is stylus mode, which is the Wiimote counterpart. You can also use the buttons as a second D-pad to simulate dual analog, which is kind of odd and kind of neat at the same time. Personally, I wouldn't spend $70 on both of them (even $40 for one is a bit hard to justify), but I wouldn't mind owning them both at some point down the line.

EntroperDecember 05, 2007

This game is $40? Nevermind then...

EnnerDecember 06, 2007

A bit cost prohibitive, but it sounds like the developers really tried to expand the simple game to justify the price tag.

KDR_11kDecember 06, 2007

I wonder what pricetag Blastworks will carry.

This is one of the few games I am starting to regret not picking up...

CalibanDecember 07, 2007

It's addictive...at least for me it is. It can be crazy mad fun too. Sometimes there are so many things on the screen that it kind of hypnotizes me.

KDR_11kDecember 07, 2007


Originally posted by: Kairon
This is one of the few games I am starting to regret not picking up...

You make it sound like the game's off the market already.

darknight06December 11, 2007

I have them both, the DS version is so much easier to the point where it frustrates me sometimes when I get home to play it on Wii because everything comes at you much faster in more numbers with far more effects going on without the DS version's slowdown. It's madness, with some planets on DS my scores exceed 30 million and as of right now I am actually ranked 14th on one of the stages in Galaxies. On the Wii, I can't even get close to that. I've noticed that's 30 million about as high as I've seen some of the scores in the top 10 on console whereas on DS the scores have legitimately exceeded 100 million. I also noticed on a few stages that the gold, silver, bronze requirements on DS are more leinent than they are on Wii as well. Funny thing is, no matter what version I can't play Retro Evolved worth crap.


Originally posted by: KDR_11k

Originally posted by: Kairon
This is one of the few games I am starting to regret not picking up...

You make it sound like the game's off the market already.

Oh, the game is fine! My wallet isn't.

ShediNJha01November 08, 2010

Just picked up the gam for $10
Great deal!

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Geometry Wars Box Art

Genre Shooter
Developer Kuju Entertainment

Worldwide Releases

na: Geometry Wars: Galaxies
Release Nov 13, 2007
eu: Geometry Wars: Galaxies
Release Jan 18, 2008
PublisherSierra Entertainment
aus: Geometry Wars
Release Nov 2007
PublisherVivendi Games
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