Galactrix also offers way more non-battle variations on the core puzzle mechanic than its predecessor. The most frequent non-battle you’ll encounter is leapgate hacking, which allows you to travel from one star system to the next across the map. To hack a leapgate, you must match a specific number of gems in a queue before time runs out, and each leapgate varies in difficulty. In addition to hacking, there are four other minigames to contend with: mining asteroids for cargo, crafting items, searching for rumors (which flesh out the story and give you experience points) and haggling (to lower shop prices).
All of these minigames do offer a commendable amount of variety, but the problem is this: the battles are still the best part! Since the other puzzle variations are often necessary to get through the story (especially hacking leapgates), the battles end up being fewer and further between than we would have liked. We really enjoyed the hacking minigame at first, because racing against the clock was rather exciting, but it wears thin after awhile because you have to do it so frequently. And since you don’t gain any experience from hacking, it starts to feel like a waste of time pretty quickly.
Fortunately, the excess of minigames is only a problem in story mode, and there’s a convenient quick battle option that pairs you up with an evenly matched AI opponent whenever you want. Even better, find a friend for multiplayer battles. If your friend’s character isn’t up to snuff, he can even select among some ready-made ships so the battle will be more evenly matched.
If portability is no concern for you, the Xbox Live Arcade version definitely offers some extra bells and whistles over the DS. Not only is it obviously prettier and more detailed overall, but little things like the announcer declaring “Enemy shields destroyed!” during battle adds some extra satisfaction to nailing a hostile MRI ship with some direct damage.
Its handful of setbacks slightly outweigh its improvements, but Galactrix still offers an addictive, puzzle-meets-RPG experience that won’t disappoint most fans of the original PQ, as well as anyone looking for an accessible game that still packs plenty of substance.
Feb 20, 2009
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