It's been close to a year since I wrote my last review for Twin-Dreams.
That's the way life goes sometimes. Not enough time to do the things you'd like to.
Anyway, once in a blue moon a game comes out of nowhere that grabs you and won't let go no matter what. Consuming your every thought, keeping your mind occupied even when you're sleeping.
For me, this game happens to be Meteos.
What's it all about?
The premise is simple: it's a puzzle game where blocks come falling down and you have to get rid of them before they reach the top of the screen.
Is that all? Of course not! ;)
First of, let's take a look at how the game plays.
Like I mentioned before, coloured blocks start dripping down from the top of the screen. (These are actually meteos sent from an evil scource in outer space with the purpose of destroying your planet)
The goal is to align 3 blocks of the same colour horizontally or vertically.
Once 3 or more blocks are lined up they lift of, depending on various conditions they ascend back into orbit or gently drop back down again.
Sounds simple enough. But there is a catch. (isn't there always ;) )
You can use the stylus to move these coloured blocks up and down (but not left or right) by dragging them across the screen to where you want them to be.
When you send a bunch of meteos flying, you don't have to sit and wait to see if they come back down again or not.
You can use other blocks, that you didn't use for the liftoff to gain an extra boost by making another line of 3 or more.
You see, when you align 3 blocks they will lift off carrying all the blocks that are on top of them. But the blocks you just used will turn gray, this way you can't use the same blocks over and over again to create combos.
When the block drop back down to the ground, you have a couple of seconds to extend your combo, before the launch platform resets itself and the gray blocks return to their original colour, ending your combo.
The combo system gives you the freedom to experiment with various tactics.
Will you simply use the blocks already on the platforms or will you let them float down again, lining other blocks up to be taken along with them on touchdown and therefor extending your combo count up to 3,4,5,6 or even more combinations.
Besides moving blocks up and down, you can also shoot them upwards. Using them again for combos when you don't have the right coloured blocks on a platform to extend your boost.
On some planets, this tactic can even be used to nudge a platform into orbit without having to line up 3 or more colours. But that depends on the laws of physics of each planet.
I could go on and on about the various tactics involved, but this I'll try to keep this review from becoming a faq. Besides, it's more fun to try these things out for yourself than to read about them.
Oh, and I still have plenty of other details that I want to tell you about. ;)
Next up, graphics and sound.
It's hard to put into words how these 2 perfectly compliment each other.
The graphics are just gorgeous, not because of how flashy they are but of because of their style.
Every world in this game has it's own style and feel.
They range from flower tinted creations, to Ice fields, gold plated planets where vector graphics complement the minimalistic shapes of the meteos there.
Every single one of them as beautiful as the next.
The music is hard to describe, yet it's a very big part of the game.
There is a basic theme to every planet, which changes depending on how many meteos are on the playing field.
But besides this theme, which can't actually be called music in and by itself, everything that happens in the game adds to the melody and flow of the music.
Be it you moving meteos up or down, pieces falling down, launch platforms lifting off, horizontal or vertical lines being formed to combos being performed or meteos reaching orbit, anything and everything affects and helps create the music that you hear when playing Meteos.
Like i said before, very hard to explain but when you hear it everything falls into place.
Perhaps I shouldn't be so surprised about this, looking back at Tetsuya Mizuguchi's earlier projects.
Still the things you do affect the music in a much more direct and substantial way then in REZ.
You noticed me mentioning something about different planets huh?
Well, besides having different music and looking very different from one another, each planet plays like a slightly different game.
You see, every planet in the game has it's own rules. On one planet the gravity can be very low, so your meteos blast of faster than your eyes can see, while on another planet the gravity can be extremely high, making it difficult to get even the smallest amount of meteos to lift of higher than a few inches.
Besides just gravity, there are many more rules which change depending on which planet you are on.
You can have blocks sticking to the ceiling when throwing them up individually. Or a vertical line might have more lift, while a horizontal one has very little or even not at all.
The combinations of all of these factors make sure there is plenty of variety to keep you on your guard. Looking to find yet more tactics ans strategies to get just that little bit further.
Besides being one of the most refreshing puzzle games in years, the amount of variety in play modes is perhaps even more astonishing.
From the start you have Simple Meteos, where you can have up to 3 CPU players to compete against. Options here can be set to stock mode, where you decide how many lives everyone has or time mode, with a fixed time limit.
Game difficulty level as well as CPU intelligence level can be set, and finally which planet you want to battle on. Oh, and Team colour can also be selected for team play matches! ^_^
Then there is Star Trip mode.
Here you go from on planet to the next in various different ways. Option 1 is simply in a straight line, save 6 planets and then face the boss: Meteos.
Option 2 let's you choose to which planet you want to go in a Bust-A-Move type of way. Select 1 of 2 different planets every time you have saved one.
And option 3 is a mix of both where you have to play versus 2 or 3 others at the same time with various additional rules.
Time Attack consists of 4 challenges:
2 minute or 5 minute time attack where you have to score as much points as possible withing the time limit.
The others being the 100 and 1000 meteos challenge. Here you have to send the according number of meteos back into space as fast as possible.
Last is challege Mode.
Here you pick the planet you want to play on (one out of 32!!!) and try to score as many points as possible before you are overwhelmed by meteos.
It starts out simple enough with meteos that drip down the screen, but by the 3 minute mark you'll be scrambling to stay alive. :)
The once, almost pleasant gently dropping of meteos like a warm summer rain shower quickly makes place for a vicious downpour that will have you scrambling to stay alive just a few seconds longer.
The thing is, when you are in the middle of a hectic session like this, you get the feeling of: "Wow! I can actually cope with all of this stuff coming straight for me!" :)
That is before the inevitable panic sets in with the Game Over screen only seconds away. ;)
There are still so many things that I haven't touched upon, like the power-ups.
There are 16 different power-ups which can be individually activated or deactivated in the options menu.
Also the frequency of which these appear during the game can be set in the same way, depending on your own tastes.
Some power-ups help you while others get in you way.
Bombs that explode in a horizontal line, X-shape or +-shape. Or bombs that blow a substantial part of your meteos up, or one that nukes the whole screen.
A rocket or super rocket platform that when activated is used to carry large amounts of meteos into orbit with less effort than normally.
A drill, that, eumh.....drills.... :p
And a smoke screen that hinders your visibility are just a couple of examples.
During a game you can also switch the usage of the upper screen to display one of your opponents screens, an overview of the planet that your on or are battling against (default). This can be done by clicking on the little cursor above the circle icon which let's you accelerate the dropping of meteos.
When playing versus CPU or human opponents, small silhouettes of their playing fields appear on the left of your screen. (when the system is set to right handed users that is, otherwise its on the right)
You can target one single enemy by clicking on their play field, so that when you shoot meteos into outer space they end up at the player you want.
This is a great way to gang up on someone, or getting even when someone has singled you out. ;)
One last thing I want to mention, even though I know that I must have forgotten many, many things still is the way the game lets you unlock everything.
Every time you play the game you accumulate meteos in different colours, 1 for each one you are ably to shoot back into orbit.
These meteos are used in the shop, where you can buy everything from new planets and items to use in the Challenge mode, among others.
You can also buy music and sound effects to listen to in the Sound test.
Simply put, if you've ever fallen in love with a puzzle game, be it Tetris, Dr Mario, Magical Drop, Money Idol Exchanger or something similar, you owe it to yourself to at least give this game a try.
It may well be one of the best puzzle games you will ever play.
Andy De Wilde