Games I Don’t Think Anyone Remembers: Meteos Edition

So, does anyone remember this game?

Meteos was released early on in the lifecycle of the Nintendo DS, back in early-to-mid 2005. It was a rather unique puzzle game, one that was made specifically for the DS’ touch screen interface. The game has you sliding blocks vertically in order to match three or more blocks of the same color. This launches the blocks upward.

Now, what made this game so cool, in my opinion, was that each round you played was not just about matching colors and making blocks disappear from your screen. The whole idea of this game was that planets were at interstellar war, and they won their battles by overloading the opposing planet with Meteos blocks. As you play each round, that’s what you’re doing: you’re launching blocks from your planet to the opposing planet in an effort to obliterate that planet.

Meteos had two main single-player modes. The first is just a standard marathon mode, where you aren’t battling another planet. You just have to contend with blocks falling endlessly onto your playing field. The longer you play, the faster the blocks fall. You’re launching blocks into space.

The second single-player mode is called Star Trip, and you battle on a series of planets. On the higher difficulties, there are branches to your path, and the planets available as you play through are decided by how well you play at earlier planets on your “Star Trip”. There are goals you have to meet, such as clearing the screen of Meteos, or beating that round within a time limit, and if you fail to meet those, you are forced along lower paths. Each Star Trip concludes with a different outcome to the Meteos war.

There are items that come into play during rounds (you can toggle these within the options menu). These items include rocket boosters that launch sections of Meteos on your screen, to a lock that prevents a player from speeding up the descent of Meteos blocks, and so on. These items can be activated by either tapping them on the screen (which will affect your playfield) or by launching them into space (which will cause them to affect your opponent).

There’s a nice benefit to replaying the game, actually, besides it being a rather addictive puzzle game. Each colored block on the playfield represents a different type of Meteos block. Those blocks you match up to launch sections are burned up in the process, but those that are launched into space unused are collected for future use. That future use is that you can use the accumulated non-burnt blocks to fuse new items, music, planets and blocks for play. This is how you unlock new features in the game, actually. At the end of each round, the game adds up all the blocks you didn’t burn to your accumulated total. Nice reason to keep playing the game.

All in all, this was a fun puzzle game on the DS, though I don’t seem to remember it ever being that popular. There was eventually a sequel, but said sequel completely abandoned the space battle theme that made the first game so memorable.

Someone’s been playing too much Kingdom Hearts…

I never played the sequel, suffice it to say. Mainly because I could never find a copy in shops anywhere, mainly, but also because…it seemed a stupid idea. Why abandon the format that made the first game so great?

Anyway, I thought this franchise had died on the DS, with those two games, and was forever to be forgotten. The other day, however, I noticed it hadn’t completely been forgotten.

In late 2008, Meteos Wars was released on the XBOX Live Arcade. This game returned to the space battle format that made the original so unique. However, being on the XBOX as it is, it abandons the one feature that made the original so fun and easy to play, that feature being the touch screen. This game was meant to be played on a touch screen. Playing it using the XBOX 360 controller just doesn’t feel right, especially when the gameplay on screen is the same: you still move blocks vertically in order to match up three or more colors in order to launch blocks into space. It feels slower and clunkier, and obviously not meant for the 360. It’s meant for the Nintendo DS. So, in the end, Meteos Wars remains an oddity more than anything. The best version of the game remains the first iteration on the DS.

So that’s that. A game that I don’t think that many people remember. Definitely worth tracking down a copy of the original Meteos for the DS, if you can find it. It’s a great puzzle game.

Update: It seems Meteos Mania is in the works, and will be a DSiWare game, available for just 200 points, but not scheduled for release until the end of 2013. What…


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