DS Review: XG Blast!

Is this more than a Geometry Wars clone?

Undergoing a secret experimental journey, the spaceship Aknathen detects an energy spectrum identical to the one emitted by its prototype weapon, the XG Blast. Travelling to investigate, Aknathen is sucked through a wormhole and into a dimension filled with aggressive alien life-forms determined to take the weapon for themselves. Fight your way through hordes of enemies to uncover the origin of the mysterious signal and find your way back home.

XG Blast! is an arcade shooter delivered in a bright and colourful retro style. Players control a spaceship with the sole purpose of destroying the invading hordes before they do the same to you. A vast array of powerful weaponry and the special gravity blast creates a screen full of vibrant action with intensely addictive gameplay. Your ship is controlled using the D-pad and either the action buttons or the Touch Screen, allowing simple yet varied styles of play.
Over the years, the DS has had its fair share of space blasters. XG Blast is a surprisingly good one, although it takes a little too much from Geometry Wars to be considered its own game.

XG Blast does have a story, but it’s unimportant and not worth wasting your time with. The controls are simple…you move your ship around using the D-pad and use either buttons or the stylus to blast at incoming enemies. The stylus gives you more accuracy to the direction where you want to shoot, while the buttons only turn your ship to blast in the direction of it. For example, X will turn your ship up while Y will turn it left.

The stylus makes the game so much easier, but after a while my hands started to ache from the combined use of d-pad and stylus. It just doesn’t feel as natural as using one instead of both, so for comfort the best option is the buttons…but for accuracy, it has to be the stylus. The level design is exactly like Geometry Wars, you just stay in one area while the enemies come after you…but XG Blast is more forgiving than it as it takes more than one hit to kill you.
Those who have become increasingly frustrated at the difficulty of Geo Wars will find some comfort here, even if it appears to be nothing more than a clone. Enemy ships are varied and some take more damage than others, but the game is a breeze when compared. You could just stay in one corner of the map and aim the stylus at the things coming towards you, I’ve done it many a time and rarely died…resulting in little challenge.

The campaign is fairly short, but it does have 2 paths for you to follow which adds a bit more replay value…but not much. Fans of Geometry Wars will be annoyed that a clone has been made, especially since the DS has its own version of the classic shooter. I haven’t had a chance to play the DS version, but apparently it was quite good. XG Blast pushes the DS far visually, but the music is hit and miss. The overall presentation is good, but not outstanding.

The Verdict

XG Blast is a good game; it’s a shame that we’ve already played a better version of it beforehand. There is multiplayer, but both must own a copy…which is a shame. It’s fun, but lacks any innovation or originality. I would suggest sticking with the better game unless you are itching to play another blaster for the handheld.