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I should have guessed that this one would be trouble from the start. A DS conversion of the most fiendlishly addictive retro arcade shoot ‘em up of recent times? How could it not be a recipe for the dreaded DS crab hands? Sure enough, ninety minutes went by after I picked the thing up for one last go and, now, I'm in agony. I can barely type. I might never play a guitar again - so there's some good news, my wife assures me - yet I can't wait to go back and have another session. Damn you, Kuju Entertainment, did you have to make this port so good?
I know - you had a great game to begin with. While producing a silly sub-game for Project Gotham Racing 2, Bizarre Creations took a handful of the oldest ingredients in gaming, mixed them up into a fresh new cocktail, and then made it look new and exciting for the modern HD age. Almost anyone can knock out a quick retro rip-off, but Geometry Wars had an almost perfect interest curve, dragging the player in with intuitive twin-stick controls (one stick moves the ship, the other aims the constant stream of bullets) then steadily raising the difficulty level while increasing the complexity of enemy attacks.
Somehow, a bunch of simple shapes take on behaviours that give them a character all their own, whether it's the dogged persistence of the Rhombus or the sneaky, ‘yeller' antics of those cowardly green squares. Throw in the neon-lit, next-generation Vectrex look and a whole collection of cool particle effects, and you have a game that helped define a gameplay style and aesthetic for a whole new wave of retro wannabes.
And Geometry Wars: Galaxies doesn't do anything to mess this up. Sure, the look isn't quite as refined. Those bright neon colours are a little duller on the DS screen and some of the effects, particularly the game's infamous black holes, are presented in a toned-down fashion. However, this is still recognisably the same game. Whack in a pair of headphones and turn the pumping soundtrack up, and it's remarkably compelling - as loud and brash as any arcade classic you could mention.