Considering the amount of falling block style puzzle games out there, I was not expecting much from Meteos. I should have known better though, as the game was developed by Q Entertainment who already released the rather brilliant Lumines on PSP. If anyone knows how to fuse fast paced gameplay with killer audio and visual it’s these guys.
Surprisingly enough, Meteos has a storyline, which centers on the evil Meteo planet and its attempts to destroy the universe. It plans to do this by raining down bocks on to the surface of each planet until it collapses under its own weight. All hope seemed lost until it was discovered that by lining up three or more blocks of the same color either horizontally or vertically they are launched back into the air. On planets with low gravity, these blocks will launch straight back at the aggressor while on other, multiple ignitions might be required to get the blocks off-screen. There are a total of thirty two different planets to protect, each with their own gravity, visual style and music so you can expect to play this game for a while.
Anyone that has played a falling blocks style puzzle game like Tetris or Columns will instantly feel at home with Meteos. Blocks fall from the top of the screen and it is your job to launch them back off before they pile up too high. Blocks are launched by lining up three or more of the same color using the stylus. While matches can be made both horizontally and vertically, you can only shift blocks up or down. While this may sound very restrictive, the game is very fast paced so you will have your hands full as it is. You have no control over the falling blocks either, like in similar games. Once you have launched a stack of meteos they will either shoot off the screen immediately or rise up slowly before descending again depending on the gravity. In the case of the latter, you have to trigger a secondary launch in order to get the blocks off the screen. The whole formula is very addictive and I ended up playing this game for much longer than what I had expected.
The main meat of the game is the “Star Trip” mode where you travel from one planet to the next in order to thwart the evil Meteo planet. There are actually three different challenges to pick from and multiple difficulty settings. For further replay value there is also multiple endings. Then there is the “Time Wars” mode with multiple time based challenges and “Deluge” if you just want to play until you are swamped. As well as being fun, all the challenges and modes also keep track of how many un-ignited meteos you have launched off the screen. These are the blocks resting on top of the ones you lined up and launched. You can then use these blocks for fusion, which rewards you with new planets, power-ups and music tracks. Since the types of blocks all differ from planet to planet, the fusion process extends the replay value considerably as you will go back to certain planets to gather more blocks needed for a fusion. It also makes Meteos the perfect portable title because no matter for how long you play it will count towards something.
Visually the game is top notch with a stylish and sleek presentation. It is not just the backgrounds of each planet that changes, but the look of the falling blocks as well. This makes for a very polished looking experience. The audio also meshes very well with the gameplay in what is fast becoming a Q Entertainment trademark. Despite all the hours that I have wasted on this game, I still enjoy the soundtrack.
Meteos is definitely one of the best puzzle games on the DS and despite the deceptively simple gameplay, will keep you busy for ages. Once you tire of the single player modes, there is also the multi-player to sink your teeth into. It is one of those rare games where there is truly very little that can be faulted. The Nintendo DS needs more quality titles like this one.
*Review originally published November 2005.