Meteos Wars Review
Meteos Wars has all the pieces it needs to be a great puzzle game, but with no online competition, it's all kind of pointless.
Meteos Wars is the Xbox Live Arcade version of Q Entertainment's DS puzzle game, Meteos. There's nothing extra warlike about this version of the game, though there's something to be said for not just calling it "Meteos Live." In the transition from DS to 360, the game's touch screen controls are, obviously, lost. It controls better with a stylus, so that's sort of a knock against it, but the standard gamepad controls certainly suffice, so it's still a solid, stylish addition to the block-dropping wing of the puzzle genre.
In Meteos, different colored blocks continually drop into your well. You interact with them by sliding them up and down and attempting to match three or more blocks of the same color either vertically or horizontally. When you do this, the matched blocks turn into rocket boosters and blast off towards the top of the screen. How far they get depends on different factors, such as the size of the launch, the number of blocks that are also being lifted off screen, and the gravity of the planet you're playing on. If a launch fails to get blocks off the screen, you can adjust blocks in your slowly descending pile to relaunch them from mid-air. Forming combos like this builds up the force of a launch, making it easier to clear the screen. In most of the modes, you're competing against an opponent of some kind, so launching blocks off the screen sends them to your opponent's pit. You'll pick an alien before beginning, which dictates the distribution of colored blocks and which special attack or defense move you can pull off after filling an on-screen meter. The special attacks include shields to prevent you from receiving enemy blocks, lasers that disrupt your oppoent's screen, and so on.
The DS version of the game let you scrub the blocks up and down via the stylus. As the 360 doesn't, like, have one of those, you'll have to make do with either the two analog sticks or the D pad and a pair of buttons that move your selected block up or down. It works pretty well. The 360 version has the same sort of mission modes that let you compete against a variety of different aliens, and you'll unlock more playable races for your own use as you play. You can, in theory, play the game against human opponents. Locally, that's not an issue. Online, the game is a wasteland and no one seems to be playing it. I managed to get two online games going, both against players in foreign countries, and both of them were so choppy and lagged that it wasn't worth playing. Meteos is a wildly competitive game, and it's a shame that the online is so barren.
In addition to the competitive modes, there are also some attack modes where you play for a minute and see how many points you can earn, or a timed mode that tracks how long it takes you to launch 100 blocks. The game has online leaderboards for these modes. Also, you can unlock little accessories for your aliens, like a heart or a big hunk of meat that you can stick to their forehead. I went with the meat. The game has a strong visual style to it, with cute, simple shapes used to depict the different aliens and lots of different music to keep things pumping.
But it's difficult to overcome the lack of online competition out there. While the mission mode and various attack modes can certainly keep you occupied for a time, Meteos' real legs come from human competition. Unless you're planning on playing with friends and don't care about random encounters in ranked matches, Meteos Wars is pretty tough to recommend.