The introduction of 3D to gaming brought with it some cool twists on classic 2D games. Enter Tetrisphere – the evolution of Tetris into the 3rd dimension! It was thus named because instead of the gameplay taking place on a 2D field (a la classic Tetris), the game revolved around a sphere – leading to the ingenious name of Tetrisphere. It was the first puzzle game I bought for my N64, and it quickly became a favourite because if its unique gameplay and awesome soundtrack.
While the game shares a name similarity with Tetris, the gameplay is actually quite different. In this game, the goal is to save a robot caught inside the middle of a sphere. Like Tetris, there are tons of weirdly shaped puzzles pieces (both covering the sphere, and dropping from the sky). Through manipulating the shapes dropping from the sky, players can align them with identical shapes on the sphere to cause them to disappear (similar to a line in Tetris). Three must be touching before they disappear – and as shapes disappear, the robot slowly gets revealed from within the sphere. Over time, a whole in the sphere will develop what will allow the robot to escape!
The challenge comes from only being able to make three mistakes in a game! If players misalign shapes, they loose a strike. After three strikes, the game ends! What makes things even more challenging is that there is a timer of sorts, and when this timer runs out, the shape falling from the sky is automatically placed on the sphere – similar to how blocks fall quickly and cannot be moved in the original Tetris. Occasionally special upgrades like rockets will appear to help remove some blocks (and are a nice gameplay addition) but the game still remains a very challenging game as the further players get in the game, the more layers a sphere gets and the larger the robot gets that needs saving.
While the single player mode is the centre of the game – and is quite challenging and fun – the game also offers a multiplayer option. I did not spend a lot of time examining this option, but it focuses more on getting points from destroying blocks over releasing a robot from the centre of the sphere.
The graphics in the game are quite impressive both in terms of keeping a solid frame rate and in terms of keeping the graphics clean and simple (important for a puzzles game with falling shapes). The backgrounds were also quite psychedelic which added a nice ambience to the game. The robots also had a lot of personality and helped the game feel futuristic. In terms of music – it is out of this world – and really helps set the atmosphere of a futurist puzzle game. I would it it might be one of the best soundtracks on the N64!
In summary, Tetrisphere is a great puzzle game. It adds a ton of dept onto the classic Tetris franchise, has its own unique style (with awesome robots and techno music), and still holds up well today. Quite a few of these games sold back in the day, so it can still be found for a reasonable price! Anyone looking for an N64 puzzle game – head here first! Overall I give this game a final score of 8/10.
Final Score: 8/10