Sept 26, 2007
Say what you want about how new, how fresh, how vibrant this arcade action title is; anyone who was alive in 1985 knows better. The shape of the playfield may change, and you may not be a yellow circle pursued by ghosts, but there's no mistaking the dot-munching pedigree on display here: this is head-to-head Pac-man with a trip to the restroom added.
That's not a bad thing, as Pac-man remains one of the most enduring games of all time. But don't tell us it’s a whole new gameplay paradigm. You control a Geon - a cube, basically - that flops around gridded playfields of 44 various shapes gathering up dots. When you've gorged yourself enough to fill a meter in the corner of the screen, you lumber over to the edge of the playfield, hit a button, and the whole thing flips over, revealing a mirror image playfield exactly like it. In fact, the resemblance is so great between the upper and lower halves that the bottom side is also inhabited by a gluttonous Geon - your rival. Your goal is to get to the circular target at the center of its playfield and "score" - apparently by depositing your dots, as your meter resets to zero.
Granted, it's all pretty abstract, but this still sounds a whole lot like taking a well-earned number two to us. And it would also explain why the Geon who lives in this mirror-image world takes exception to your actions and is trying to do the same thing to you by gathering up the dots on his side of the field and making a trip to the special circle place on your side of the world.
Luckily, this isn't just a race against time; you have a range of attacks you can inflict upon your target. They run the gamut from simply jumping - which, if it hits the guy underneath, can knock dots out of his meter and into yours - to grabbing power-ups that create damage-causing walls on the opponent's playfield, turning yourself invisible to your opponent, speeding you up, and so on.
Oh yeah, the emotions. Basically, every Geon has one of eight emotions, and the emotion makes one power-up more effective. You know how when your girlfriend gets really angry, she becomes able to throw a very heavy crate of your CDs out a seven-story window? Or when she's mischievous, she'll charm your mother and start inviting her over all the time? Same thing.
For example, the shield power-up lasts longer when a Courage Geon uses it, and the Envy and Melancholy Geons get more mileage out of the power-ups that make little tornados or pits. There are eight Geon emotions in all, but they aren't swappable - the one you choose is the one you're stuck with. Again, not entirely unlike a girlfriend or any other kind of significant other.
There are some mini-games and a time trial mode as well, but the real meat and potatoes of Geon is that one-on-one, cube-to-cube action. And it looks okay; very stylish. The biggest problem is that it just lacks the single-player appeal of a Pac-man, as well as the multiplayer depth and longevity of a game like Bomberman. And when both Pac-man and Bomberman are available on LIVE, that makes Geon tough to recommend, let alone single out as original and innovative.