Meteos: Disney MagicESRB:
Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Developer - Q Entertainment
Publisher - Disney Interactive Studios
Wireless DS Single Card Download Play
Wireless DS Multi Card Play
Touch Screen Compatible
I remember reviewing Meteos in June 2005. Back then I adamantly stated that I had limited puzzle game skills. Since that time not a whole lot has changed. Sure my wife and I welcomed our second child into this world, but my puzzle gaming skills did not get any better. Disney Interactive Studios recently sent me a copy of their latest puzzle game, Meteos: Disney Magic. With a few changes to the original Meteos gameplay, and a new coat of shiny Disney paint, this game is just as addictive as the original Meteos was when I first played it over a year and a half ago.
Meteos: Disney Magic is on par, if not somewhat better, visually then the original Meteos. The TFT LCD screens are put to good use once again as the colors are bright and energetic. The graphics really do seem to pulsate off the screen. People wouldn't expect a puzzle game to tax any hardware that is on, but once you see how much action is displayed on the DS’s screens you may re-think this notion. When the screen gets crazy with tiles launching off the screen in large bunches the game does not hiccup one bit. The DS is well into it's lifespan, and having a staple puzzle game looking this good is almost a given now-a-days and I am glad that Q Entertainment did not stray much from the look of the original style of the first Meteos.
Of course with Disney taking the reigns of this title in terms of themes, it is only to be expected that you'd get your fill of Disney characters, and Meteos: Disney Magic fills this void quite well. Q Entertainment managed to keep the full feel of the original title while at the same time managing to add the Disney touch to it. You'll get your fair share of Disney franchises from The Lion King to The Nightmare Before Christmas as you delve through the various levels of the game. I was somewhat concerned that I may have tired of the Disney themes, but as I played through the game I would have to say that I enjoyed what flavors of Disney were presented and they were really not bothersome at all. If anything I only wish there were more.
Sound in the game is pretty good. The recreated music of each theme is recognizable in terms of style. So when you play the Lion King levels there is lots of tribal like music and when you play the Pirates of the Caribbean levels there is a Hollywood feel to it and some booming cannons. Overall each themed level has appropriate music, but what struck me was that the music really didn’t seem like it was plucked out of each Disney theme, just that it was based on it. The rest of the sound effects do a good job from the blocks falling to the rockets launching them off the screen. All in all it is enjoyable, just not spectacular.
The original Meteos that I reviewed in 2005 was a hit in terms of the gameplay. The main focus was to slide falling tiles vertically in an effort to match up three or more similar looking tiles. Once you did so they did not just disappear, what they did instead was become rockets which blasted towards the top of the screen. The goal was to blast the tiles out of the gaming area by using these rockets as your propulsion. As you linked up combinations of tiles the strength of the rockets became greater, or wider, and it was the extra power that propelled the original linked tiles, and any ones on top them, to exit the top of the screen. To add to the challenge, each level had its own gravity strength which would make the tiles lighter or heavier, and this in turn made it easier or more difficult to propel them out of play.
I am sure people are wondering what the heck has been done to alter the original game. Well, I have to say that Disney and Q Entertainment have made some noticeable changes to the gameplay that actually make this title somewhat different then its predecessor. The first thing any Meteos fan will notice is that the game is played with the DS turned on its side. This enables the actual game screen to become taller then in the original version. I found this somewhat interesting as the game seemed to really be meant for a screen of this nature. By turning the DS on its side, and allowing for the taller screen, I found that I had more time to maneuver my tiles around. The second screen, the non-touch one, is not utilized during gameplay. It is used mainly for animations of Disney characters that change based on one's progress. I found that I didn't pay too much attention to this screen as my main focus was on my tile screen, and given that the action can get pretty intense, you will not want to take your eyes off of the screen with the tiles.
Another major addition to this "Disneyized" version of Meteos is the ability to move the tiles up, down, left and right. In the original you could only move the tiles up and down within the same stack. When I first started to play my review copy of this title I found that I was able to link tiles together with some ease, but as time progressed I came back to the realization that my puzzle gaming skills still need a lot of work. The Easy and Normal mode stages are somewhat do-able, even for me, but once you graduate to the Hard mode you will find the challenge quite difficult. I would even surmise that the most seasoned puzzler would get a good test of their gaming skills from the Hard mode. Should anyone get by the Hard mode, something which I think would be quite impressive, there is an Expert mode after that actually takes away the ability to move the tiles horizontally, which is identical the original Meteos movement style, and this makes the game even harder. Now I admit I never reached this mode, but knowing what I faced in the Hard mode it is only reasonable to expect an even tougher go in the Expert mode.
As the DS has solidified its spot as a real great handheld gaming machine developers are taking advantage of its abilities and this includes the built in Wi-Fi. The original Meteos supported multiplayer gameplay utilizing either one copy or multiple copies of the game for four-player mayhem. Well the same carries over here. As this game was released so long after the first Meteos I had really hoped for some online play, but unfortunately this was not added to this Disney version of the game. The DS's ability to play online using the Nintendo Wi-Fi Network is a proven feature, and this game would have fully benefited if it utilized it, but for some strange reason this was not incorporated. I think that the capability to play online is something that would have given DS owners a real reason to purchase this game. Look how well Nintendo's latest Tetris sold with the inclusion of online play.
As I ponder my conclusion I can help but recommend Meteos: Disney Magic. To newbies of the series I would have to say that the game is a definite buyer. With the same great addictive formula of the original Meteos, and new Disney themes, how could you go wrong? And to those who played through the first Meteos, this newest iteration does offer some gameplay changes to make it a slightly different game. The only thing lacking is online play. Regardless Meteos: Disney Magic is a great update to the original Meteos and it is a great addition to anyone's ever-growing library of DS games.