It was summer of 2005. I had had my Nintendo DS for a while, and I had heard about this new puzzle game just released for the system. It was called Meteos, and its style and mechanics intrigued me.
Meteos was a puzzle game. I’ve always been a fan of puzzle games, going back to Tetris and Dr. Mario on the NES. Meteos had a sci-fi style, with a story about planets battling with each other by launching blocks back and forth. The gameplay revolved around the DS’ touch screen and stylus: you moved blocks along vertical columns by touching and dragging them with the stylus. You lined up multiples of the same and those were launched to the top of the screen. If they were launched with enough force (ie. you get enough combos going), they go beyond the top of the screen to another player’s planet. The game becomes a sort of tug-of-war, with each player burning Meteos and trying to overload other player’s fields, in effect destroying their planet. The game had its share of power-ups to shake up gameplay.
There were different planets you could play as. Each planet had its own unique musical style and instrumentation, as well as Meteos symbols. In addition, each planet had its own level of gravity. Some planets had extreme gravity, meaning blocks fell quickly and you needed to build up a lot of combos to launch your Meteos off the screen. Some planets had very light gravity, meaning you could launch more Meteos quicker.
I remember playing against friends a lot in this game, and how fun it was. The DS was still a new handheld at that point, and I was getting used to the wireless gameplay the system offered, compared with the game link cable required for the Game Boy family of systems. Technology was progressing. Friends and I would occasionally play between classes or just before the weekly anime club meetings.
I would also play it on my own just because it was a really fun puzzle game, with a lot of personality, and a lot to unlock. The main story mode had multiple branching paths (made visually clear by a branching path you could take through the story mode (you chose which planet to go to next, and the planets available to choose were determined by your performance in the previous match).
The game also had a great soundtrack. I would carry a pair of earbuds around with me just so I could hear the music even when playing out and about campus. Each planet had its own musical style and instrumentation.
I remember there being a sequel released, but I never got or played it. Maybe it was that it was based on Disney properties, and lost that unique character and style the original had. Meteos was all about that interplanetary block puzzle-based warfare, and making it about Disney characters was a bizarre choice. I lost track of the games after that.
It wasn’t until I got an XBOX 360 back in 2011 that I learned that an additional game had been made and released on that system. Called Meteos Wars, it was released on XBOX Live Arcade. I downloaded and played it, but I don’t remember much about it.
I remembered the game the other day while playing Lumines on the Switch. Something about Lumines’ style reminded me of Meteos. Today I learned why.
You see, Tetsuya Mizuguchi was the producer of Meteos. If that name doesn’t sound familiar, then maybe you’ve heard of other games he either created or worked on. He worked on such games as Sega Rally Championship and Sega Touring Car Championship, and was partially in charge of Rez and Space Channel 5. Games he created include Rez, Lumines, and Child of Eden, all games with a heavy emphasis on interactive sound elements.
Then there’s Meteos’s lead designer, a guy named Masahiro Sakurai. The same Masahiro Sakurai in charge of the Super Smash Bros. series, although at that point we just had the first two games in the series. You get these two guys working together on a game and you know you’ve got something good.
As of this point, Meteos Wars on XBOX Live Arcade is the last game in the series. It’d be neat to see it come back, maybe for the 3DS. I don’t think it’d work as well on the Switch, as a lot of its style was based around having those two screens. However, given Sakurai’s heavy workload in regards to Smash, and Mizuguchi working on Tetris Effect, I don’t know if or when it’ll ever happen.
Does anyone else remember Meteos?