As a gaming kid in the 80s, I sometimes sat dreamy-eyed between rounds of Demon Attack, wondering just what video games 30 years in the future might look like. What I pictured was something pretty darned close to Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved from Bizarre Creations. So when that game first crossed my radar, I ran right out and grabbed an Xbox 360 -- and it was absolutely worth it. Since then, I've enjoyed Geometry Wars: Galaxies on the Wii and Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2, again on the 360.

That said, no one should be surprised to hear how excited I was to see Activision release Geometry Wars: Touch [App Store] -- out of nowhere -- for the iPad.

Those familiar with Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2, a downloadable XBLA release, should have a pretty good idea of what Geometry Wars: Touch brings to the table. If you've somehow missed it all this time, the game is a retro-styled multi-directional shooter with over the top glowing particle effects. The game has won rave reviews and been cloned numerous times on many platforms. The iPad version features all six play types of the XBLA release, with a seventh ("Titans") added in for good measure.

  • Deadline: Score as high as you can in three minutes of play with unlimited lives.
  • King: With one life and no bombs, master the enemies moving from safe zone to safe zone.
  • Evolved: Basically Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved.
  • Pacifism: With one life and no weapons, wipe out enemies by flying through explosive gates.
  • Waves: With one life, dodge or destroy an onslaught of enemies in wall formation, coming from all directions.
  • Sequence: Destroy all enemies in each of 20 progressive levels.
  • Titans: Pulverize large enemies into more and more smaller ones -- basically Asteroids.

As compared to the XBLA version of Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2, the iPhone release is basically the same game, but with slightly toned down visual effects, no multiplayer, and dual virtual analog stick controls. An integrated online leaderboard keeps things competitive.

Now, this is the first iPad game that I've spent any time with, and I quickly became aware that gaming on the iPad is definitely a different experience than gaming on any desktop, laptop, or mobile device out there. Holding the iPad in front of me with both hands, looking at the action on its sizable screen really was a new and immersive experience.

Sadly, though, it's not all for the better.

Geometry Wars: Touch, as mentioned earlier, is a dual virtual stick shooter. There are plenty of these types of games out there for the iPhone and iPod touch, and they play well enough. But, on the iPad, things are a little different.

In an earlier article, both Arnold and Eli noted an initial unease with the dual stick controls in this and other games on the iPad. After spending time with this title, I felt similarly and attributed it to the iPad's larger edge border. Because of the extra "dead area" around the screen, I frequently found myself dragging my thumbs out of the active multitouch area and losing control of the game. At first this happened quite a bit, but as I got a few hours into the game and learned to force myself to put my thumbs "deeper" into the screen, the issue lessened -- but it was still occasionally there.

See our gameplay video for a closer look.

That said, I don't think the issue is a specific implementation problem on the part of the Geometry Wars: Touch developers; I believe it is likely just a side effect of the iPad design. And I sincerely hope that more time spent with such games on the iPad can result in a learned proficiency that makes this a non-issue.

Those control concerns aside, Geometry Wars: Touch is, like earlier members of the series, an excellent arcade shooter. The game has been endlessly cloned on the iPhone and iPod touch platform (and most other platforms), so iPad gamers are definitely lucky to have an authentic Geometry Wars title in the App Store. And, for jealous iPhone and iPod Touch owners, I can't imagine why Activision wouldn't also port the title the rest of the iPhone platform devices sooner or later.

App Store Link: Geometry Wars: Touch, $9.99

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Miffy

    Yeah the border on the thing is HUGE, I'm guessing for the next Ipad that'll be gone.

    • Adams Immersive

      You’d never be able to hold it without accidentally triggering things, so that’s no ideal either—and the battery life would suffer from the reduction.

      The border is necessary because, unlike the iPhone, you can’t get your whole hand around the back to grip it.

      But as a new platform, with its own unique format, developers and users alike will have to learn all over again what works best in game design.

  • Miffy

    Yeah the border on the thing is HUGE, I'm guessing for the next Ipad that'll be gone.

    • Adams Immersive

      You’d never be able to hold it without accidentally triggering things, so that’s no ideal either—and the battery life would suffer from the reduction.

      The border is necessary because, unlike the iPhone, you can’t get your whole hand around the back to grip it.

      But as a new platform, with its own unique format, developers and users alike will have to learn all over again what works best in game design.

  • Dylan

    My dad got an iPad and I got it right away on it, but I hate how it controls. Everything about the game is perfect except that. Agree 100% with the review, and also hopes it can be ported to the iPhone too.

  • Dylan

    My dad got an iPad and I got it right away on it, but I hate how it controls. Everything about the game is perfect except that. Agree 100% with the review, and also hopes it can be ported to the iPhone too.

  • russiaone

    it's official, iPhone/Touch gaming is dead..

    But seriously, this is annoying

  • russiaone

    it's official, iPhone/Touch gaming is dead..

    But seriously, this is annoying

  • NewJorg

    This gives hope that the days of unresponsive, uninspired on-screen joypads are numbered, as are those of lazy last gen console ports by Gameloft & Co.

    Too bad no-one's realized that they suck equally on iPhones, too. The iPad's bigger screen finally seems to make people compare games against quality, eliminating the patronising "wow, I didn't know a phone could do that" factor.

    Let's hope this will improve and innovate games on the iPad Nano as well.

  • NewJorg

    This gives hope that the days of unresponsive, uninspired on-screen joypads are numbered, as are those of lazy last gen console ports by Gameloft & Co.

    Too bad no-one's realized that they suck equally on iPhones, too. The iPad's bigger screen finally seems to make people compare games against quality, eliminating the patronising "wow, I didn't know a phone could do that" factor.

    Let's hope this will improve and innovate games on the iPad Nano as well.

  • duh

    Do you guys realize that none of those developers had access to an iPad before yesterday? Give them a few weeks and they will certainly refine the controls...

    • Dran

      You must be joking, right? Do you also think that PS3, Wii and Xbox 3rd party devs didnt have a devkit before the consoles shipped? Sure, the little indie guys making apps in their basement didnt have one, but you can be damn sure that big devs like Chillingo, Gameloft and Ngmoco have had ipads for a long time already.

      • duh

        A very selected few probably had access to iPads.

        Nonetheless, it took several iterations for iPhone controls to be perfected, and also several months for users to really get used to them. I just find that saying "dual stock shooters are not for iPads" is a bit premature when the device has not even been out for 24 hours.

  • duh

    Do you guys realize that none of those developers had access to an iPad before yesterday? Give them a few weeks and they will certainly refine the controls...

    • Dran

      You must be joking, right? Do you also think that PS3, Wii and Xbox 3rd party devs didnt have a devkit before the consoles shipped? Sure, the little indie guys making apps in their basement didnt have one, but you can be damn sure that big devs like Chillingo, Gameloft and Ngmoco have had ipads for a long time already.

      • duh

        A very selected few probably had access to iPads.

        Nonetheless, it took several iterations for iPhone controls to be perfected, and also several months for users to really get used to them. I just find that saying "dual stock shooters are not for iPads" is a bit premature when the device has not even been out for 24 hours.

  • Pere

    I am very sad becouse i think this is the beginning of the end on iphone games. This is unfair. Iphone games are awesome in a device like a phone. But with the ipad on market developers are going to move to it and letting iphone without games.

    I want a portable multidevice, not a big videoconsole with less power than the worst one. (i mean a big one, not compared with psp or Ds of course)

    • http://www.buzzabit.com/aaron Aaron Sullivan

      I'm sure the creators of the iPad are flattered by your declaration, but it's completely baseless.

      Say you're a developer. Would you abandon a platform with 50 million users for one with 1-2 million projected? No, you'd develop for both, right?

      The iPad just launched and there's a lot of attention on it and a potential to catch those early adopters buying apps just to check out the capabilities of the platform. Once that subsides, iPhone and iPod Touch will be the place for cash flow for a long while to come.

  • Pere

    I am very sad becouse i think this is the beginning of the end on iphone games. This is unfair. Iphone games are awesome in a device like a phone. But with the ipad on market developers are going to move to it and letting iphone without games.

    I want a portable multidevice, not a big videoconsole with less power than the worst one. (i mean a big one, not compared with psp or Ds of course)

    • http://www.buzzabit.com/aaron Aaron Sullivan

      I'm sure the creators of the iPad are flattered by your declaration, but it's completely baseless.

      Say you're a developer. Would you abandon a platform with 50 million users for one with 1-2 million projected? No, you'd develop for both, right?

      The iPad just launched and there's a lot of attention on it and a potential to catch those early adopters buying apps just to check out the capabilities of the platform. Once that subsides, iPhone and iPod Touch will be the place for cash flow for a long while to come.

  • Citsade

    Don't worry...hell they still make PS2 games! Until the Ipad has a phone on it and fits neatly in any pocket, AND has lower priced games, the Iphone isn't going anywhere, and Ipod Touch by that reasoning.

    Anyone think that Geometry Wars has a smaller arena? The vertical size seems shorter for sure.

  • Citsade

    Don't worry...hell they still make PS2 games! Until the Ipad has a phone on it and fits neatly in any pocket, AND has lower priced games, the Iphone isn't going anywhere, and Ipod Touch by that reasoning.

    Anyone think that Geometry Wars has a smaller arena? The vertical size seems shorter for sure.

  • Slushe

    I haven't had any problems with the controls--but I do have freaking huge hands. I'll have to see how this game fairs with tiny fingered friend. I'm actually playing better on the iPad version...

  • Slushe

    I haven't had any problems with the controls--but I do have freaking huge hands. I'll have to see how this game fairs with tiny fingered friend. I'm actually playing better on the iPad version...

  • dumas1000

    This isn't coming to the iPod touch or iPhone because the user base of those would not be willing to routinely pay 9.99 for this. It would start there and a few would buy it at that price, but most would moan and cry and before long it would begin it's inevitable race to the bottom. Activision doesn't want to race to the bottom anymore and are hoping that, with the ipad, that won't be neccessary anymore. As I said early, I believe the race to the bottom is still going to happen, even in the ipad marketplace. Still, it may be a while before the ipad marketplace destabilizes and Activision is still holding out hope that it won't, as are many other devs.

    In short, this game ain't coming to the iPhone. So deal with it.

    • spiffyone

      It most likely will come to the iPhone/touch as the base work is already done, and a "port" would have low production costs. That said, even if it doesn't we still have a plethora of great GW-style multidirectional shooters like Isotope on iPhone/touch already, so it wouldn't be a huge loss.

  • dumas1000

    This isn't coming to the iPod touch or iPhone because the user base of those would not be willing to routinely pay 9.99 for this. It would start there and a few would buy it at that price, but most would moan and cry and before long it would begin it's inevitable race to the bottom. Activision doesn't want to race to the bottom anymore and are hoping that, with the ipad, that won't be neccessary anymore. As I said early, I believe the race to the bottom is still going to happen, even in the ipad marketplace. Still, it may be a while before the ipad marketplace destabilizes and Activision is still holding out hope that it won't, as are many other devs.

    In short, this game ain't coming to the iPhone. So deal with it.

    • spiffyone

      It most likely will come to the iPhone/touch as the base work is already done, and a "port" would have low production costs. That said, even if it doesn't we still have a plethora of great GW-style multidirectional shooters like Isotope on iPhone/touch already, so it wouldn't be a huge loss.

  • Leland

    The reason for the wide border is so the iPad has a "frame" for you to hold. If the screen and its touchable surface went all the way to the edge of the case, people would complain about always accidentally touching elements along the screen's edges. It's not much of a problem on the iPhone just because it's so much smaller and gets held differently.

    I don't expect this border to be gone in the next version.

  • Leland

    The reason for the wide border is so the iPad has a "frame" for you to hold. If the screen and its touchable surface went all the way to the edge of the case, people would complain about always accidentally touching elements along the screen's edges. It's not much of a problem on the iPhone just because it's so much smaller and gets held differently.

    I don't expect this border to be gone in the next version.

  • kevlar

    I think a 1/2" border all round would have been big enough.

  • kevlar

    I think a 1/2" border all round would have been big enough.

  • dumas1000

    If this game comes out for the iPhone, which I don't believe it will, it will have less features and less modes, which will allow Activision to justify selling it cheaper. Like Plants Vs Zombies HD, which has extra modes and features that the iPhone version lacks. You get what you pay for. Either you pay 9.99 for the full Geometry Wars package or 4.99 half a game. You won't be able as an individual customer be allowed to make that decision. Activision will make it for you. They either sell the whole game for 9.99 or strip it down, whether you want them to or not, and sell it for 4.99. They may even strip it down and still sell it 9.99, knowing that eventually the price will bottom.

    • arn

      not sure why you think Activision won't sell it on the iPhone for $9.99. Activision also happens to sell Call of Duty Zombies and THPS2 for iPhone for $9.99.

      arn

  • dumas1000

    If this game comes out for the iPhone, which I don't believe it will, it will have less features and less modes, which will allow Activision to justify selling it cheaper. Like Plants Vs Zombies HD, which has extra modes and features that the iPhone version lacks. You get what you pay for. Either you pay 9.99 for the full Geometry Wars package or 4.99 half a game. You won't be able as an individual customer be allowed to make that decision. Activision will make it for you. They either sell the whole game for 9.99 or strip it down, whether you want them to or not, and sell it for 4.99. They may even strip it down and still sell it 9.99, knowing that eventually the price will bottom.

    • arn

      not sure why you think Activision won't sell it on the iPhone for $9.99. Activision also happens to sell Call of Duty Zombies and THPS2 for iPhone for $9.99.

      arn

  • CptKenya

    I have wanted this game for iphone for so long and im not buyin an ipad

  • CptKenya

    I have wanted this game for iphone for so long and im not buyin an ipad

  • Klaus

    Hope Geometry Wars will reach our iPhones/iPods Touch, and hopefully it will work on 1st Gen. Hardware!

  • Klaus

    Hope Geometry Wars will reach our iPhones/iPods Touch, and hopefully it will work on 1st Gen. Hardware!

  • http://www.starface.me mike

    The bigger screen helps me with gameplay. I scored much higher playing my existing iPhone games (Flight Control, Tetris) at 2X. So I am not sure if the high price for the same game would sell well.

    I did make a new version of my puzzle game Starfaces HD for the iPad.
    Check it out!
    http://www.itunes.com/apps/starfaceshd

  • http://www.starface.me mike

    The bigger screen helps me with gameplay. I scored much higher playing my existing iPhone games (Flight Control, Tetris) at 2X. So I am not sure if the high price for the same game would sell well.

    I did make a new version of my puzzle game Starfaces HD for the iPad.
    Check it out!
    http://www.itunes.com/apps/starfaceshd

  • Millhouse

    They have GOT to release it on the iPhone. I don't care about screen size, I've been waiting for this game since I got an iPhone. Seriously.

  • Millhouse

    They have GOT to release it on the iPhone. I don't care about screen size, I've been waiting for this game since I got an iPhone. Seriously.

  • Lukeb

    I've got blisters on my fingers

  • Lukeb

    I've got blisters on my fingers