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(Bandai; US: Jul 2007)

Just one more go...

Something I find utterly pointless is the constant comparisons between the Nintendo DS and Sony PSP. The two machines couldn’t be further apart; never has there been a clearer case of apples and oranges in the gaming world. On one hand you have the all-in-one powerful handheld that is the PSP: movies, music, photos, and it supposedly plays games too. You name it and it does it. The handheld delivers near-PS2 quality graphics and is meant to appeal to the iPod generation. Then you have the DS, a machine which wants to broaden the usual demographic of gamers by revolutionizing the way we play games with its touch screen, built-in mic, and dual-screen gameplay. The DS isn’t trying to compete with the PSP in the power stakes, nor is the PSP even claiming to be anything innovative. Both simply claim to be the next generation of handheld devises—they’re simply taking different paths.

Despite the glaring differences, gamers continue to argue over games which appear on both systems. Though with Meteos and Lumines, the zealots on both sides finally have something to bicker over.

The comparisons are obvious; both are puzzle games, both were developed by Tetsuya Mizuguchi the genius behind the Dreamcast classics Rez and Space Channel 5, music and presentation are at the forefront of each, and both unsurprisingly involve the destruction of colored blocks. However, once you play each game you realize just how different they are. Not just that but also the different aims of the two machines as well.

Lumines delivers what we’ve come to expect from our home consoles: high quality graphics, booming audio, and addictive gameplay. Meteos delivers us the perfect handheld game: zero load times, quick bursts of exciting gameplay, a quirky and pleasant visual presentation, but most importantly a simple yet effective use of the unique features of the DS.

The idea is an evil planet named Meteo is destroying other planets by shooting blocks of meteos at them. After a barrage of assaults, the different races of the other planets discover that by fusing three or more of the same colored blocks of meteos they can send them rocketing back at Meteo. It’s quite refreshing to see a game in the puzzle genre actually have an emphasis on story. And while it’s hardly as intriguing as ICO or the real-life political madness of the struggle over the Tetris rights, Meteos does immerse you in its own charming way. When the bottom screen fills to the bursting point, you find yourself frantically scraping and scratching the touch screen so the little dancing aliens keep on… dancing.

What Meteos has convinced me though is that this game simply wouldn’t work on any other handheld. At least not as convincingly as it does on the DS. Being able to control each and every block with the stylus finally justifies all of the hype Nintendo banged out for almost a year.

Meteos is exactly what the DS and handheld gaming needed. The easy to get into mechanics, its addictive nature, and most importantly the excellent use of the DS makes this the finest puzzle game not only this year but for a long while. It’s hugely different from its most obvious counterpart, but it also manages to stand on its own two feet and practically justifies the purchase of a DS console. Now let’s put all this pointless bickering aside and enjoy our games for once.


Tagged as: meteos | q entertainment
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