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Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Grid WarsMark Incitti was recently requested by Bizarre Creations (developer of Geometry Wars) to remove the Grid Wars download link. Here is the quote from Mark's web site:

"We're beginning to feel the effects of the Geometry Wars clones on our sales via Microsoft now and are beginning a process to begin to more robustly protect our copyright and intellectual property."

"Therefore, I'd like to ask you in an amicable fashion to stop infringing our IP and pull the game 'Grid Wars' from the internet for download."

"I hope you understand and are able to do this without us having to take further steps."


So, where to get your GridWars fix? Here are fifteen recommendations.
(Scroll down for all the reviews)

1. Grid Wars
2. XWars
3. Echoes
4. Rainbow Wars
5. Veck
6. Bullet Candy (demo)
7. Neon Wars (demo)
8. RetroBlast
9. HGEWars
10. Grid Assault
11. Mu-cade
12. Base 2
13. Mono
14. Mutant Storm (demo)
15. Vector Infector


Reviews

Grid Wars

Grid Wars

Probably the most popular Geometry Wars clone, partly due to the fact that it's free and playable on at least two platforms. The dual analog controls work well, but players without a joypad can play using a combination of mouse and keyboard. No levels, but the difficulty increases slowly with the addition of new types of enemies. A black hole appears from time to time, which you can use to your advantage since it sucks everything into it. Blow it up, and the amount of points you earned depends on how many objects were drawn into the dark matter. This particular technique called black hole harvesting is a heated discussion among many fans of Mark Incitti's shooter.

Most power-ups upgrade your shots or gives you a temporary shield, while bombs can be used to clear the entire screen. The game has gone through many revisions and what we have is the final version, plus it's unlikely to be updated since the author has moved on to other projects.

Name: Grid Wars
Developer: Mark Incitti
Type: Freeware
Platform: PC, Mac
Size: 3.3MB
Online High Score: No
Geometry Wars-like scale: 8/10
Rating: 9
Direct download link: http://worldofstuart.excellentcontent.com/grid/GridWars54.zip
Download page: http://worldofstuart.excellentcontent.com/grid/wars.htm

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XWars

XWars is a decent attempt to fill the hole left vacant by the forced withdrawal of Grid Wars. There are no configurable options yet, though gameplay is practically the same bar some minor sprite changes. Dual analog controllers are also supported in the latest version.

Your ship can be moved around using the W, A, S and D keys. The mouse can be used to aim at other vector shapes. Indicators shown at the top of the screen provides information on the next upgrade or multiplier increase at a glance. A worthy substitute, especially with a little more work. Made using the HGE engine.

Name: XWars
Developer: Ehud
Type: Freeware
Platform: PC
Size: 0.6MB
Online High Score: No
Geometry Wars-like scale: 8/10
Rating: 7
Download page:
http://www.gamedev.net/community/forums/topic.asp?topic_id=417391
Mirror: http://files.filefront.com/Xwarsrar/;6691038;;/fileinfo.html

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Echoes

Echoes is an arena shooter by Binary Zoo which consists of ten levels, with a different enemy type introduced on every new stage. Each have their unique strengths, weaknesses and require various strategies to deal with effectively.

The player loses energy when collision with an adversary could not be avoided. Remaining energy is shown as a counter on the top right of the screen, also indicated by the colored ring surrounding your ship. There are only three different power-ups to collect. One increases firepower, the other restores health while the third is a sort of bomb.

Zoots awards are handed out whenever a certain task is completed, with current achievements available to peruse via the trial accomplishment screen. To get a perfect score, all ten objectives must be attempted at the highest difficulty.

Name: Echoes
Developer: Binary Zoo
Type: Freeware
Platform: PC
Size: 10.8MB
Online High Score: No
Geometry Wars-like scale: 8/10
Rating: 9
Direct download link:
http://www.binaryzoo.com/games/echoes/echoes.zip

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Rainbow Wars

Rainbow Wars

A side project from Volition designer Luke Schneider, part of the team responsible for the development of the Descent series. The background is practically empty, but destroying enemy ships will cause glowing particles to appear on screen. Bombs only appear as a power-up item, and is activated on the spot when collected. A power-up item will appear for every five thousand points earned which includes a black hole that only sucks in enemy ships.

Your ship is equipped with three layers of shield, and you lose one whenever an enemy ship touches yours. Destroying each wave of enemies will increase the level number by one, also replenishing your shields automatically. Losing all your shields ends the game, but you can continue from the last level attempted by selecting it at the main menu. Note that the easy difficulty will only allow access to the first ten waves.

Your ship also has the ability to warp and charge it's shot. Tap the left shoulder button on your gamepad to teleport, and hold the right shoulder button to prepare for a special attack. It's interesting to note that Rainbow Wars is an effort made with Game Maker in only thirty hours.

Name: Rainbow Wars
Developer: Luke Schneider
Type: Freeware
Platform: PC
Size: 2.2MB
Online High Score: No
Geometry Wars-like scale: 6/10
Rating: 8
Download page: http://www.volition-inc.com/Staff/LukeSchnieder
(click on design ideas to download)

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Veck

Veck

(Watch the gameplay video on YouTube!)

Veck was originally a competition entry for the Retro Remakes vector competition, which it won by garnering more than half of the votes submitted even though there were nine other entries. The level number increases for each minute that your ship remains intact, up to fifteen. Then the game loops back to the first wave but your score remains.

Weapon upgrade is automatic as well, bestowing the ability to shoot more bullets whenever the minute counter changes. No lives or shields, instead health is measured by energy which increments slowly but depletes if a collision with another object occurs.

Has the distinction of most bullets fired by your ship among all the games mentioned. The soundtrack is great as well, generating plenty of adrenaline rush as it reaches a crescendo. Full screen can only be enabled using a command line parameter, stated in a text file that comes with the zip package. For users with no gamepad, the mouse is not part of the control option although directional firing is still possible by mapping four other keys in addition to the standard movement.

Name: Veck
Developer: smayds
Type: Freeware
Platform: PC
Size: 1.6MB
Online High Score: No
Geometry Wars-like scale: 7/10
Rating: 9
Direct download link: http://dl.smayds.com/VeckSE.zip

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Bullet Candy

Bullet Candy

Bullet Candy is more like Robotron: 2084 than Geometry Wars, although the inclusion of dual analog controls make it a worthwhile inclusion into this list. You control a ship stuck in space much like the others, but enemies are able to shoot at you in many different ways. Lives can be earned either by collecting red power-ups or scoring 100,000 points.

Power-ups include lasers, triple shots and temporary invincibility. Bullet Candy includes a survival mode and an Asteroid Belt game, plus some secrets as well. Only fifty levels in the normal mode although most are designed to offer different challenges. For players without the luxury of a gamepad, the standard mouse and keyboard control combination can be used.

Name: Bullet Candy
Developer: Charlies Games
Type: Demo
Platform: PC, Mac
Size: 8.2MB
Online High Score: Yes
Geometry Wars-like scale: 3/10
Rating: 8
Download page: http://www.charliesgames.co.uk/

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Neon Wars

Neon Wars

Developed by Reflected Games and BlitWise Productions, Neon Wars is another arena shooter that will only run properly if you have OpenGL 1.2 or above installed.

Your ship can only be moved around using the mouse, plus the primary weapon is fired automatically at the nearest enemy. Nevertheless, the one level included has no time restrictions and replayable at any time even though several power-ups have been disabled.

Name: Neon Wars
Developer: BlitWise Productions
Type: Demo
Platform: PC
Size: 2.9MB
Online High Score: No
Geometry Wars-like scale: 7/10
Rating: 8
Download page: http://www.blitwise.com/neonwars.html

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RetroBlast

RetroBlast

RetroBlast uses vector shapes for objects and enemies, much like Geometry Wars but that's where the similarities end. Only mouse control is available, and players used to a dual analog gamepad will be disappointed with this effort. To shoot at an enemy, your ship must first be rotated to face it by using the left or right mouse button to turn. Bombs can be used to clear the screen.

The full version features a hundred levels but only the first eighteen can be accessed in the demo.

Name: RetroBlast
Developer: JGOware
Type: Demo
Platform: PC
Size: 2.8MB
Online High Score: Yes
Geometry Wars-like scale: 5/10
Rating: 5
Download page: http://jgoware.com/retroblast.htm

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HGEWars

HGEWars

HGEWars is a work in progress by Yuriy O'Donnell, and there is still plenty of development to be done although it's been around longer than any of the other Geometry Wars clones. The rating should not be taken seriously since scores are not based on the final version. Some fiddling with the ini file is required for the gamepad to work.

Weapon upgrade is automatic. The gameplay is quite faithful to the original but it may be months before the final version is released.

Name: HGEWars
Developer: Yuriy O'Donnell
Type: Freeware
Platform: PC
Size: 0.3MB
Online High Score: No
Geometry Wars-like scale: 7/10
Rating: 3
Download page: http://yurka.org/gamedev/

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Grid Assault

Grid Assault

Grid Assault plays more like Geometry Wars than any of the other attempts stated in this article. The author informs that it's development was halted to avoid any implications that may arise from creating an exact copy of Bizzare Creations' Xbox 360 hit on another platform.

Enemies will only appear for the first six minutes. Dual analog controls are available in addition to the mouse and keyboard combination. Weapon upgrade is automatic for every ten thousand points earned, and you can use bombs to destroy all objects on screen. Most of the objects from the original can be found in this effort.

Name: Grid Assault
Developer: Wiebo
Type: Freeware
Platform: PC
Size: 5.3MB
Online High Score: No
Geometry Wars-like scale: 9/10
Rating: 7
Download page: Blitz for the masses

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Mu-cade

Mu-cade

Using vector shapes for shmups is practically a Kenta Cho hallmark, but the celebrated Japanese developer had been toying around with dual analog controls since Gunroar. A combination of both Robotron: 2084 and Snake, your objective is to stay on the rectangular platform and knock other enemies off it by shooting at them repeatedly.

For each enemy pushed off the platform, the tail of your ship grows longer and the score multiplier increases. A longer tail does complicate matters a little as it gets harder to stay on the platform. If the tail of your ship is over the edge, the weight will drag the rest of the ship with it as well.

Fortunately players only need to worry about the front portion of the ship. The tail itself can be blown apart in exchange for a short burst of additional firepower. You will lose the multiplier in the process though.

It gets increasingly harder to stay on the platform as time passes, but an extra life is awarded for every 200,000 points earned.

Name: Mu-cade
Developer: Kenta Cho
Type: Freeware
Platform: PC
Size: 6.02MB
Online High Score: No
Geometry Wars-like scale: 2/10
Rating: 7
Download page: http://www.asahi-net.or.jp/~cs8k-cyu/windows/mcd_e.html

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Base 2

Base 2

Base 2 is a game that plays more like Every Extend than anything else. The player controls a bit with the mouse, using the left button to activate the shield. Coming in contact with enemy ships when your shield is up will cause them to explode.

Some enemies are too large to eliminate in this manner, so your only option is to maneuver around them carefully. The green bar at the top of the screen indicates the amount of energy you currently have, and will depreciate whenever your bit touches an enemy ship with the shields down. Some energy is lost regardless of shield status when collision with large enemies could not be avoided.

Pressing the right mouse button activates the freeze bomb, which freezes all enemies on-screen momentarily. Extra lives can be earned by destroying enemies of the same color in a row, using a process called linking. Multipliers are awarded for long links.

The screen tilt can be rather helpful or distracting to players, depending on their preferences. A higher score would have been awarded if the toggle option was available from the main menu.

Name: Base 2
Developer: SimSimGames
Type: Freeware
Platform: PC
Size: 6.02MB
Online High Score: No
Geometry Wars-like scale: 2/10
Rating: 5
Download page: http://www.simsimgames.co.uk/

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Mono

Mono

Mono is a shooter from Binary Zoo that uses Robotron 2084-style controls, where the aim of the game is to change the color of the entire screen from black to white or white to black. Enemies will leave a splash of color on the playing field when destroyed, and the behavior of a hostile unit will change depending on the patch of color that they traverse on.

Power-ups can be collected replenish energy, shields, or radically alter your ship's firepower, although they only lasts ten seconds. Playing this game can be disorienting after a while because of the bright colors used.

Name: Mono
Developer: Binary Zoo
Type: Freeware
Platform: PC
Size: 5.5MB
Online High Score: No
Geometry Wars-like scale: 3/10
Rating: 5
Download page: http://www.binaryzoo.com/games/mono/

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Mutant Storm

Mutant Storm

Mutant Storm is an arena shooter developed by PomPom Games, in which you control a ship equipped with directional firing much like Geometry Wars. Instead of vector shapes, most of the objects in the game are represented in 3D.

It's quite unfortunate that your progress is only saved every ten levels, leaving most users replaying the same stages just to arrive at a save point.

Name: Mutant Storm
Developer: PomPom Games
Type: Demo
Platform: PC, Mac, Linux
Size: 4.3MB
Online High Score: Yes
Geometry Wars-like scale: 6/10
Rating: 7
Download page: http://www.pompomgames.com/mutantstorm.htm

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Vector Infector

Vector Infector

Vector Infector is another release by Oddbob that resembles Geometry Wars, featuring fifty rooms filled with geometric shapes bent on your ship's destruction.

There are some notable differences when comparing this version with the console hit. For example, the only way to power up your weapon's attack strength is by collecting gems that vanquished enemies leave behind. The game also has a wrap around playing field, where sprites that go over the edge of the screen will appear on the other side.

Two control options are made available to the player. Pressing the Z key will cause your ship to fire in the direction it is currently facing. Shots can also be directed by using W, A, S and D keys. Looks very promising even if it's still in early development stages.

Name: Vector Infector
Developer: Oddbob
Type: Demo
Platform: PC
Size: 15.0MB
Online High Score: No
Geometry Wars-like scale: 7/10
Rating: 5
Direct download link: http://www.merseyremakes.co.uk/previews/testbuild8thJan.exe

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Some notables which uses dual analog or features vector shapes that did not make the list (for various reasons), but very playable nonetheless:

Circle Hunter by Swooshysoft [review]
Bubble Thing by Queasy Games [review]

All games copyrighted by their respective development studios.
27 Comments:
Anonymous the2bears said at 8/12/2006 06:45:00 PM:  
Nice job organizing these into one easy place Tim.

Just one thing though, you say "Bizarre Creations is not doing such a good job at protecting their IP, are they?" I think this assumes that they even have any I.P. to protect. I'm just not convinced they do, and I think the ambiguity in their message to Mark hints that they don't think so either, but they just want to be bullies.

Bill
Anonymous sandcrab said at 8/12/2006 10:03:00 PM:  
I really think this is their own fault for making something so easily imitatable--if the game can be replicated so easily then they should just be glad they were the first and that they had MS backing them.
Anonymous finefin said at 8/13/2006 05:22:00 AM:  
hm. in my opinion all these games - GW original, too - are clones. I just say one word: RoboTron
Anonymous Danjuro said at 8/13/2006 11:26:00 AM:  
Actually, the first appearance of a black hole inside a Robotron clone could be traced back to Food Fight as well ;)
Anonymous Anonymous said at 8/13/2006 02:11:00 PM:  
They are "beginning a process" to protect their IP - meaning Grid Wars is probably the first of several games they'll try and shut down.

Unfortunately, it probably doesn't matter if they've got a case or not. They've got the money to spend on a large team of lawyers, unlike these freeware developers.
Anonymous the2bears said at 8/13/2006 05:42:00 PM:  
I don't think they bargained for the publicity though...

Bill
Anonymous Anonymous said at 8/15/2006 01:24:00 PM:  
It's pretty dubious all the way around; Geometry is a pretty clear Robotron 2084 clone, gussied up for the modern age. Gridwars however is a pretty unapologetic clone of Geometry wars - looking at screenshots of both, I can't tell which is which.

That said, I'll never buy an Xbox 360 so it wasn't like anyone was going to get cash out of me for playing a robotron clone for 30 minutes a day.
Anonymous Charlie said at 8/15/2006 03:57:00 PM:  
Thanks for giving Bullet Candy another plug, even though i don't consider it to be much like geometry wars.

I've got a new demo out, with more levels and other things for those of you who were not sure about it previously, give it a try if you're interested.

Cheers
Charlie
Anonymous Anonymous said at 8/19/2006 05:42:00 PM:  
I downloaded all of these and only RetroBlast and MutantStorm ran well on load end machines with intel type chips. For what it's worth. ;)
Anonymous drBoiffard said at 8/21/2006 09:39:00 AM:  
I think Geometry Wars is only a Robotron clone with Kenta Cho's graphical style. As you are saying, the japanese developer has being using this characteristic neon coloured-vector-shapes since ever.

I think Kenta Cho is the only person that should talk about "intellectual property", because he's the first person in using this unmistakable graphics style. He has been publishing games and programs since 1997. And all of them look like this.

I know Geometry Wars is earlier than Mu-cade and that Mu-cade has a gameplay more similar to GW than any other game from Kenta Cho, but is in the line of all of his games.

However, before this affaire I would think that the graphical similarities between all of Kenta Cho's games and Geometry Wars could be coincidence. But this is smelling too bad. And thinking Microsoft is behind Bizarre makes it smell worse. Could be Bizarre Creations also looking after stealing the "Intellectual property" of this type of graphical style, by registering some ideas?

Although Kenta Cho's is a little more known than Mark Incetti, he's also an indie developer, who hasn't any power behind him. I think is unmistakable graphical style has to have influenced GW in any way. If they were only making money by copying the japanese's style, I wouldn't suspect, but this disproportionate efforts in "protecting the intellectual property" and making the world believe that they're so original that they "own intellectually" something of GW (wich is a Robotron+ABA GAMES graphics, I repeat), when we've been playing Kenta Cho's games since before Geometry Wars was released, it's very curious and makes me think a lot.
Anonymous Anonymous said at 8/24/2006 06:35:00 AM:  
The Title of this article should be:

A lot of clones of the japanese graphic style (AbaGames etc): "Geometry Wars Clones" on Xbox
Anonymous Anonymous said at 8/26/2006 08:09:00 AM:  
How old are you people? Geometry Wars' (and many other games') style was obviously influenced by Tempest and other vector games as much as anything else. It came out in 1980. Stop your whining!

Tempest
Anonymous Juris Purins said at 8/29/2006 07:25:00 PM:  
While the details regarding the request to remove GridWars are not entirely clear : using a company name, making 'protecting our intellectual property' statements, and throwing in a 'Microsoft' comment are clearly vicious. Had they written to Mark programmer to programmer quietly without veiled threats, a quest to temporarily halt freeware distribution would be easy to take. I can see them (BC) wanting to protect their sales, but can't help but see GridWars as a nice advertisement. People play XBox Live for the 'Live' part and it seems doubtful that GridWars would really impinge on their sales. This smacks of corporate bullying and leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I can't help but feel that BC could have handled this much better. Long Live Open Source!
Anonymous Anonymous said at 9/07/2006 02:09:00 PM:  
Maybe Eliminator3D doesn't belong in this list but it was inspired by Geometry Wars and works with dual-analog gamepads - plus it has an online high score chart. It can be found at www.thegameprojects.com.
Blogger Cerium said at 12/19/2006 12:50:00 PM:  
I have played both Geometry Wars and Grid Wars long enough to compare them. After playing Grid Wars for about 30 minutes the failings of Geometry wars are obvious.

Grid Wars is a much better game to the point that Geometry Wars seems insegnificant to me. The big problem is that Geometry Wars has no holding power. It ramps up WAY too slow to be any fun for an advanced player.

I play grid wars on hard and get times for 10-14 minutes and scors over a million- geometry wars just isnt as good.
Anonymous SimSimSan said at 3/06/2007 02:01:00 PM:  
Thanks for the plug. Just a few corrections. My game is not a GW clone and not inspired by it in any way.

My game was inspired by Robotron, as many other one-screen, frenetic, overhead shooters probably are or at least, and this is the trouble with reviewing games, a link can be made to previous or existing games, whether it's true or not.

The design itself is something that's been on paper for over 7 years until, finally, I taught myself how to program and made the game. I'd not heard of every extend extra and after seeing a couple of videos, base 2 plays absolutely nothing like it, nor looks like it. Think Robotron meshed with the chaining techniques in Radiant Silvergun with quite a few original ideas and that's a more accurate(sic), Hollywood style 'pitch'.
Anonymous Anonymous said at 3/11/2007 03:23:00 AM:  
Well if they'r egoing to take away the free ones, I guess me and the rest of us will just have to pirate the real one. How'd you like that Microsoft? Thanks for encourageing Piracy, again ;)
Anonymous Mick said at 3/19/2007 11:36:00 PM:  
Hey, cool I was looking for a Grid Wars download and found this, turns out a lot of these other games are just as, if not more fun.

Thanks a bunch!
Blogger jeremy said at 3/28/2007 04:56:00 PM:  
mono definitely deserves more than a 5
Anonymous hellborg said at 4/06/2007 08:38:00 PM:  
Not really a geometry wars clone, but an experience with a related look-and feel. Also has cooperative multiplayer support: http://borderlineinteractive.com/chaos/
Anonymous cichlasoma said at 4/12/2007 09:50:00 AM:  
a nice article on grid wars 2, with a download link:
http://worldofstuart.excellentcontent.com/grid/wars.htm
Anonymous Ryusho said at 5/28/2007 09:10:00 AM:  
I think the company has NO case, and would loose anyway, you see, the game is EASILY COPYABLE, h***, if they want to sue grid wars, why not sue any game that has those shapes in it? and if the makers of the robotron game cared, they could easily sue Geometry wars for copying THEM...
Anonymous Anonymous said at 8/01/2007 02:21:00 PM:  
Geometry Wars coming on to Nintendo Wii and DS

No need to buy ~Microsoft crap now!
Blogger Miko said at 8/13/2007 06:29:00 AM:  
Mutant Storm can beat Geometry Wars up with one arm tied behind its back. Best retro action game in a decade. <3
Blogger Jean-Sebastien said at 8/30/2007 12:07:00 PM:  
I for one will never buy a Bizarre game based on their stance on GW. I had a falling on their forum about it, and everyone there is convinced to be holier than most, so I saw f*** 'em!
Anonymous Anonymous said at 11/15/2007 07:14:00 AM:  
Juris Purins: How would you write the letter asking a coder to stop publishing his/her work because you feel it infringes on your property? The note posted at the Geometry Wars site sounded nearly programmer-to-programmer to me. The writer wanted to be firm without being an ass, and I think that was accomplished. They could've gone all RIAA on him.
Anonymous Anonymous said at 12/13/2007 06:57:00 AM:  
I bought PGR3, imagine my annoyance when these money grabbing oiks tried to charge me for downloading it as a separate game.

I really don't care if they are losing money, they should consider how many people they've ripped off because they didn't know they already had the game.