E3 Hands On: Meteos
Falling block puzzle game gets a touchscreen pattern-matching meteor-based makeover
Ever since Tetris, the world's best game designers have been trying to match its easy-to-play hard-to-master style. We've had bubbles that pop, balls that stick, lines that sweep and blocks that are drilled, but there's always space for another attempt. So up step two of Japan's finest superstar designers, Masahiro Sakurai (Super Smash Bros) and Tetsuya Mizuguchi (Rez, Space Channel 5).
Like Tetris, Meteos is based around falling blocks. But unlike Tetris, these blocks (actually meteors fired at peaceful planets by the evil Meteo) are the same in terms of shape. Single unit blocks, they all have different colours and textures however, and it's these you have to match. The trick is to line up three or more of the same using the touchscreen and stylus to shift any blocks vertically up and down in their stacks. Once done - this being a space game - the blocks turn into rockets and blast up into the sky taking all the blocks above with them. These blocks are then banked, allowing you to unlock new planets, items, features and modes as the game progresses.
There are 30 planets to defend from Meteo and each has its own gravitational rules and block style, as well as alien race and musical theme, so as you unlock them, you'll have to learn new skills. The simplest way to experience these is in the Star Trip mode where you progress from planet to planet but there also plenty of other modes include deluge, where the meteos just keep falling at a steadily increasing rate. Most of the modes are customisable too, so you can set the difficulty level of the enemy CPU as well as time or stock limits, or item sets. These vary from vision-obscuring smokescreens (bad) to meteos-destroying hammers (good). And in addition to the multiplayer mode, where you get to launch your meteos to land on the other players' screens, there's the DS Download Play feature. This lets you can beam the game to up to three friends who don't have a Meteos game card, which is pretty neat. Meteos is due for release on 23 September.