Tetris is a classic puzzle game – probably one of the best puzzle game ever made. Originally programmed in Russia, it eventually kickstarted the Game Boy, and has been released on just about every system ever since. I have played many versions, but the best version I ever played was on the Nintendo DS back in my undergraduate days. What makes this game so terrific is its infusion of Nintendo music and characters with a variety of gameplay modes new and old!
The main gameplay of Tetris is simple – different shaped blocks fall from the sky and begin to pile up. If the pile reaches the sky – you loose! But, if you rotate and place the falling blocks in such a way that there is a solid line across the screen, that line will disappear and prevent the blocks from reaching the sky. The only variation over the original is that when the blocks hit the ground, you can continuously hit the rotate button to keep the shape from permanently falling into place which makes the game a bit easier when on the harder modes. I would have appreciated an option to change this.
The standard mode has you trying to clear 200 lines. What makes this infinitely more enjoyable versus all other Tetris games is that each 10 lines complete, the background and music changes from various retro NES games staring with Mario 1, and moves though many other Mario classics, and even Zelda! At the end you get a cool little spaceship ending. It doesn’t take long to beat and is quite challenging, but you will want to come back for more!
The game also has a versus mode. In it, you attempt to get combos (i.e., more than 1 line cleared at once, up to a Tetris which is 4 lines at once) which then transfers those lines to the bottom of your enemies screen, forcing their pile of blocks higher and higher to the sky. On its own, the mode is a fun little distraction if you are just playing against the computer, but this game also has an online mode where you can battle people from all over the world, dramatically increasing its deployability! The game also introduces a bunch of new modes that are equally as fun and innovative (see pictures below).
In Catch mode, blocks fall from the sky – but instead of clearing lines and rotating the falling blocks, you rotate the centre block and try to make the square around the centre block fill to make them disappear. There is also a Yoshi’s Cookies style Puzzle mode where you have 3 blocks to finish a puzzle – and there are 200 of these puzzles! My personal favourite is Mission mode where each level has you attempting to clear lines based on a specific objective (e.g., clear 3 lines with a L block, or clear 4 lines at once). Lastly is Touch mode where you move blocks with the stylus and try and make lines – it is my least favourite and felt forced just so that the DS Stylus could be used in the game.
In terms of graphics, this game is not going to win any award as Tetris is not a flashy game, but the way Nintendo fused its brands with the game actually make is more fun! Mario, Link, and Yoshi and plentiful and take on their 8-bit and 16-bit selves and look great as such. I particularly liked the infusing of 8-bit level graphics with much higher resolution backgrounds seen in the standard mode. The music was also fantastic as it is basically all Nintendo music and sound effects which are classic and timeless.
Overall, this is the best Tetris game I have ever played. While the standard mode alone has tons of replayability, the inclusion of all the additional modes plus an extensive online experience makes this game a Must-Have for any Nintendo DS owner. Overall, I give this game a 9/10.
Final Score: 9/10