DS
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Metoes is a fast-paced, innovative puzzle game for the Nintendo DS. You represent a planet, which is being attacked by the planet Meteo. Meteo\'s attack consists of various colored Meteos, and when three or more of them are lined up together, they ignite, which can cause them to fly off of the screen and attack the rogue planet. When Metoes ignite, they launch towards the top of the screen, and depending on the load above them as well as the gravitational effects of the planet and other things, they can reach over the top and attack Meteo. This is a frantically paced war of the worlds!

How does this work?

The bottom screen is where most of the game play takes place. Metoes rain down in more or less random order, one at a time, and fairly quickly. Your job is to attack the planet (or planets) you are battling by launching your Meteos at them. They contantly flow at you, and you can speed them up further by either holding L or R, or by touching the speeder. You launch them by lining up three or more of the same type/color. You can only move Meteos up or down within the same row, not horizontally at all. This often requires a bit more strategy than you might expect, and you may find yourself using the speeder waiting for the right blocks to show up. Fortunately, the speeder is quite speedy - it can fill the whole screen in just a few seconds, so you must be careful.

If blocks fill any column beyond the screen vertically, then you lose the match. You can match Meteos both horizontally or vertically. Horizontal groups are useful in that they often can carry large amounts of other Meteos with them. Depending on the gravity of the planet you are protecting, the amount of distance a single row of Meteos can carry varies greatly. Usually, you will have to combo more than one set of Meteos in order to get some of them off of the screen and have them attack your opposing planet. On many planets, vertically launched Meteos launch faster than horizontally launched ones. This is helpful because you can combo together launches as long as a Meteo stack shows some of them in the 'Incinerated' state. You can chain launches within the same stack, as well as nearby Meteos. For example, you can launch a stack into an already launched stack, which can push both of them up.

A really helpful tactic is merging stacks. When a previously launched stack (that did not make it to the top) is falling back down, you can arrange the stacks of both the surrounding stack as well as the launched one in such a way to make sure that there is aligned three or more of the same type with its neighboring stacks. what will happen is that the stacks merge and they all launch up together. In this way, you can make chains of Meteos that can even cover the entire screen at once! You can also combine horizontal and vertical launches when a stack needs a little extra \'oomph\' to fly off of the screen. The game mechanic seems really simple when you play it the first time, but the strategy can get very deep. It works really well! There are also weapons, many of which need to be unlocked. Along with the random assortment of Meteos, occasionally a weapon will show up. You can activate them by tapping on them, or launch them at your enemy by launching them off the screen. Weapons do things like blowing up Meteos (not so useful) to pushing them off the screen for you (good!) or creating extra weights (icky!). After purchase, you can control how often they appear if you do or do not like certain ones appearing.

What are the graphics like?

Meteos is a two-dimensional puzzle game, with two-dimensional graphics. Everything is sprites for the most part. There are some cut scenes, and a lot of rather silly animations. The main menu graphics are really great, and have a lot of flair to them. Menu navigation is very stylish, and I found it actually enjoyable to go through the menus. They are well designed and 'flow' well. There are some interesting backgrounds as well, though admittedly it is hard to pay attention to them when you are launching Meteos at high speed. Also, each planet has a different graphical theme for the Meteos. I like some a lot more than others, but overall I was quite satisfied, even with the occasional 'oh, neat.' One planet has neat looking Japanese/Chinese (not sure) symbols on the Meteos. Though perhaps nothing revolutionary graphically, the sense of polish and excellent production values show themselves in abundance. Great work.

How about the sound and music?

The sound effects are all quite well done, and fit as much as you would expect from a puzzle game; the sounds make sense and are incredibly silly. Each arena has its own mixture of sound effect and background music, and you can unlock/purchase them with your launched Meteos (as well as other things.) Not only can you distinguish each planet graphically, each one also has its own sound bank to distinguish it. Most of these tunes I would not boot up the DS just to listen to, but they fit quite well within the context of the game, and they inspire the proper mood. Good work here.

How appropriate is this game for Christians?

There are no appropriateness issues here. It\'s a simple, silly Science Fiction premise that\'s simply harmless. Perfect score, here.

Stability/Polish/Interface

This is an area where Meteos simply shines. The production values are just amazing. The game is just filled with silly little hidden extras. In the extras menu, not only can you listen to every sound effect you unlocked, but the game also stores a whole bunch of little statistics. You can see how many times you have turned the game on, for how long, how much time in each mode, how many Meteos in each various form you have launched, and a lot more. Even the interface can surprise you. If you do not touch a menu option fast enough, they will start moving around on you. You can also do silly things like dragging around the menu buttons. Another slick thing is that when you beat the game, you can play a special version of the level (with LOTS of Metoes) while the credits are scrolling by. Each and every Meteo you launch throughout the game is stored, and can be used to purchase new planet, sounds, or items in the Fusion menu. The credits is another way to add to your total - any launched then count as well. That is particularly neat since the playing field there is much larger than normally possible. :) I can\'t speak highly enough about the game in this regard - I could tell immediately how much the team enjoyed working on this game. Excellent! As for the interface, it is excellent. Using the touch screen is really the only way to go, if you plan on doing well at this game. The game does offer a very full-featured gamepad mode, which honestly does more to show how good the touchscreen is for this kind of game than anything else. I found the L & R buttons for the speeder more convenient then using the touchscreen at times, but otherwise I used the stylus exclusively (other than trying it out the D-pad for fun.) It\'s nice how the game could easily be completely controlled with the stylus.

Overall & Conclusion

Meteos is a truly excellent fast-action puzzle game that has had me coming back for more far more than I ever expected. I am by no means a puzzle game expert/fanatic, but this has to be one of the best puzzle games since Tetris, and in my experience, it\'s certainly my favorite since Tetris, though they are admittedly far too different for a fair comparison. Whereas Tetris (as well as Dr. Mario) are more along the lines of arranging a falling block, where the strategy is before block placement, this game is more reactionary and honestly a bit of an adrenaline rush. :) Wireless multiplayer is absolutely fantastic for this game. One cart can drive up to three other players, and if each person has a cart, up to four players can play together then as well. If each person has a cart, then every Meteo launched is counted towards the cart\'s Meteos launched, just like in single player mode. :) After being spoiled with online play with Mario Kart DS, I kind of wish this game had that too, but it was released long before the online service was launched. Even though I have played this game quite a bit (according to the stats over sixteen hours on and just under twelve hours of actual play time as of this writing) I expect it will be a game I come back to time and again. I recommend this to anyone who wants to play one of the best puzzle games in a long time. Just be warned that it can be quite addicting!

Appropriateness Score: 50/50 Game Score: Game Play 20/20 Graphics 8/10 Sound/Music 8/10 Stability/Polish 5/5 Controls/Interface 5/5 Game Score Total: 46/50

Overall: 96/100

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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