When the first original Meteos was released in the Summer of 2005, it was established as a well designed and highly addictive puzzler for the DS. With great use of the stylus, Meteos furthered the growing sentiment that Q! Entertainment creates killer puzzle games. Now, given a Disney makeover, the Meteos that we once knew and loved has somewhat taken a step back from itself.
When I first started playing Disney Meteos, I was actually a little bit confused. I was still playing Meteos, a puzzle game that I thoroughly enjoy, but something just was not quite right. I will admit, the Disney cosmetic makeover does change the quirky presentation values from the first installment. The original Meteos displayed some of the craziest music and eccentric avatars I have ever seen in gaming. It gave the game is overall goofy but wildly entertaining presentation.
But now given a Disney theme, I found myself with a somewhat unfilled feeling, as if I only had two bites of a great dinner. While the core gameplay was still Meteos, it just is not the same as the game I fell in love with a couple years back.
Instead of only changing the look and presentation of the game, new gameplay elements have also been added. There are now new power-up pieces that fall randomly from the top of the screen, that when tapped will perform unique feats such as swap pieces out or automatically launch them skyward. The player also has access to a super power as well. When certain conditions are met, the player can tap the constantly filling power bar to unleash a super move, such as the ability to slow down time or instantly launch pieces through the top. Again, while these power-ups seem like they would make the gameplay more fun, they actually take away from the pure skill that the original title required. Instead of thinking fast, the player can now take the easy way out by activating a super power when the going gets rough.
In the original Meteos, the player used the stylus to drag pieces vertically to form groups of three or more. Now, the player has the ability to move pieces horizontally as well. This opens up a whole new can of worms. Because the player can now move any piece anywhere on the board, it takes away from the overall skill factor. Instead of thinking in a split second on how to link a string of pieces by looking at the board as a whole, the player can now cherry pick by focusing on one piece and dragging it anywhere on the game board. Again, this is taking the easy way out.
But dragging pieces around the screen is not as fluid as it should be either. For example, say I want to move a piece to the right a few spaces, then up a couple. I must first stab the piece I want to move then drag it right. Next, I must remove the stylus from the piece, then re-stab it, then drag the piece towards the top. Taking the stylus off the desired piece adds inconsistency to the gameplay. If the game lets you move pieces where you want, why hold them back by adding an extra step? This flaw alone is quite hypocritical.
Besides only moving pieces vertically, the original title made the player hold the system in the typical manor, one screen on top of the other. In this Disney edition, the player is forced to hold the system on its side, making each screen longer. Since Meteos is a vertical game, adding extra height is a good idea. However, it leaves the second screen as a waste of space.
In the first title, when pieces where launched from the bottom screen, they would fly and hit opposing planets in the top screen, giving the game a more action oriented feel. But since the screens are stacked side by side, this illusion of fight is now eliminated. In fact, when you play against other players, whether human or computer, the player can only gauge their movement by an incredibly small icon the corner of the touch screen. This indicator is so tiny, the player will not even bother to waste a precious second to look at in while in game. The same thing goes for the second screen. Instead of planets fighting, the player now can watch a mostly static image of Simba roaring or Stitch surfing. This extra screen provides no additional information or entertainment. Disappointing.
Like the port of Diddy Kong Racing on DS, adding all these new features has only bastardized a great game. Now if Nintendo WiFi was a multiplayer option, then all these nuisances could have easily been over looked. But the player is still limited to single or multiplayer local link.
Just like the new graphical presentation, the musical quality has also taken a punch in the face. The goofy but great music from the original game has been replaced with bad renditions of classic Disney tunes. Luckily, the game does keep track of all the user’s stats, including the number of games played and the total amount of time played.
The unlockables are nowhere near as entertaining as they were in the original title. In the first Meteos, the more pieces you launched, the more pieces you could use to unlock more content such as new pieces, planets, multiplayer options, and music. But there is no purchasing system in this Disney edition. Instead, the player automatically unlocks something each time a stage is completed. Again, this is taking the easy way out. And what happened to the mini-piece minigame when the credits are rolling?
Most likely, the developers adding in all these gameplay elements to make it easier on the player, something that the target audience — younger kids, would appreciate. But to the fans of the first title, it is like a slap in the face. You do not have to work for anything anymore as everything is given to you. Even though this game is not as good as the first, it is still entertaining. However, if you want more bang for your buck, pick up the original version.