Meteos review

The most satisfying puzzle game ever? NGC investigates.

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Here's a game to test whether your DS really can last for ten straight hours without a recharge.

Meteos is the most compellingly perfect puzzler we've played in years. It blends the tactical simplicity of Puyo Pop with the high-adrenaline kick of a decent shoot-'em-up.

The concept is simple, but brilliant: clear away falling, coloured blocks by launching them into space. Connecting three of the same colour creates a rocket-powered platform that lifts off, carrying with it all the blocks directly above it.

Clearly, you want to build the platform as low down as possible in your pile of blocks, so it removes more clutter from the screen.

But if you try to launch too many blocks the rockets won't be able to clear the planet's gravity field, making it barely halfway up the screen before beginning to get dragged back down to earth.

That's when you have to start creating further reactions within the hovering platforms by rearranging the blocks they contain or flinging more blocks into them from the pile of spares below.

You can also set up chain reactions by arranging everything so the blocks return to the ground and settle into an instant group of three.

This gives the biggest possible rocket boost but runs the risk of accumulating a lot of heavy debris from above, as you have to wait a few seconds until the platform touches down.

Too much debris and you'll need to spark off even more explosions to get the thing moving. If your launch fails, the blocks eventually lose their 'platformness' and turn back into random clutter.

Multiplayer games get wickedly competitive, with everyone desperately trying to launch huge platforms in the face of a deluge of junk blocks from the other players.

The solo modes consist of time trials, endurance tests or battles against virtual players, with new game types as rewards for progress.

There are countless variations, each with subtle differences in gravity, block behaviour and the explosiveness of each type of combo. Depending on the rules you're playing with, connecting three blocks might launch the platform just a few pixels into the air, or completely vapourise it in an instant.

You can only play the default set of rules in the single-cart link-up mode though, so each player will need their own copy of the game to experience it fully.

Not that there's a single valid reason for any DS owner not to own this one.

When you find yourself dreaming restlessly of rocket-powered blocks after a midnight Meteos marathon, yet still try to squeeze in a couple more goes on the bus in the morning, you'll know you've found a game with that rare spark of magic. Don't forget to keep your battery charger handy.

Meteos is out now in Japan and will be released for DS in the UK this summer

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Platform"Xbox 360","DS"