Meteos Wars Review
Meteos Wars box art
System: X360 (XBLA) Review Rating Legend
Dev: Q Entertainment 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Q Entertainment 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: Dec. 10, 2008 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-2 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Everyone 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Puzzle Meets Rocketry
by Robert VerBruggen

There must be entire rooms of people sitting around thinking of ways to stack blocks in a rectangular area and then eliminate them before they get to the top, because that's the fundamental concept of a whole lot of puzzle games. The latest is Meteos Wars, an Xbox Live Arcade title in which you'll use rockets to launch the blocks off the top of your screen.

Meteos Wars screenshot

Your screen starts with a few blocks at the bottom (with more falling from the top, of course). You select blocks with the left joystick, and move them up and down (but not left and right) with the right joystick. When you get three or more of the same color in a straight line, they ignite and push their way toward the top of the screen, carrying whatever other blocks were on top of them. Depending on how many blocks they have to carry, and on the unique characteristics of the planet you happen to be on (gravity, how much the atmosphere impedes the rockets, etc.), the booster blocks will either fly off the top of the screen or slowly come back down. If they fly off the top of the screen, you get points, and if you're playing against an opponent (the computer, a local human, or an online human), they're added to his screen.

As you play, a meter charges, and you can unleash a full meter to do a special "Planet Impact" attack on your opponent. There are also bombs that occasionally drop onto your and your enemies' screens, exploding and messing up your work; if you can send them to the top of your screen before they blow up, your opponent gets them.

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Once you've put in a little time getting the hang of it, it's quite addictive. There's a lot of strategy; if you can make two sets of two blocks, and then pull a fifth block between them, you'll have a five-wide rocket that has an easier time making it to the top of the screen. On planets with strong gravity, sometimes it helps to match the blocks vertically instead of horizontally. That way, the ignited blocks are only pushing on one column's worth of blocks instead of three or more.

Meteos Wars screenshot

Not to mention the various feats you can pull off, like igniting a set of blocks that's already in the air (if the blocks aren't going to make it to the top, this gives them an extra boost), or launching a set of blocks right as another settles back to the ground (this re-ignites the settled rockets, which would normally turn back to standard blocks). You can also speed up time, which gives you more blocks to launch at your opponent, presuming you can handle them.

There are three single-player game modes to choose from. One is Attack Mode, which has three sub-modes, and in which you'll face no opponent. "1-Minute Time Attack" gives you (you guessed it) one minute to rack up as high a score as you can. In "100-Meteo Attack," you try to launch 100 blocks in as short a time as possible. In "Challenge Attack," you keep playing until you die, Tetris-style. In the second mode, "US COM.," you fight a simple one-on-one battle with a computer opponent. You can pick your and your opponent's planet, adjust the CPU's strength, turn Planet Impact on and off, and set bombs' frequency from off to "High."

Meteos Wars screenshot

In "Mission Mode," you fight a series of battles on different planets (you and your opponent use the same one each time, but it changes in each of the six stages) in any of three difficulties. Beginners are wise to start on "Easy"; not only does it take some practice to get a feel for the game, but even on Easy, the difficulty ramps up at Stage 4, when your enemies gleefully discover Planet Impact attacks. In the final stage, you battle the planet Meteo. The first time we beat Mission Mode, it took about an hour, though it depends on how many times you re-try each stage (fortunately, lives are unlimited) and how quickly you're able to kill off your CPU opponents.

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