Reviews// Tetris (DS)

I dream in falling blocks

Posted 23 May 2006 09:00 by
You walk up to some random bloke down the street (or gal, we don’t discriminate) and start a conversation about videogames. The chances are you’re going to result in at least a few games being thrown up. These games in question are classic titles that have stood the test of time, so drilled into society that they have become part of pop culture themselves. Super Mario Bros, Sonic the Hedgehog, Pacman. Tetris would most certainly become one of those games, parodied and referred to in many cult texts, the falling blocks game could easily be seen as one of the most mainstream video games ever created. And now it’s back on Nintendo DS, with more modes and ways to play.

… Oh God, it’s not going to turn out rubbish is it? Hopefully, not, I mean, this is Nintendo we’re talking about. Tetris’ success hasn’t always been so rosy you know. When the original Nintendo Game Boy (you know, the Breeze Block Edition) came shipped with the classic title, it was a sure fire hit. As long as you could understand simple shapes and hadn’t been kept in third grade at least twice, then the concept was amazingly simple. Build different shaped blocks up together and fill in the lines to clear them. The more lines you cleared, the more points you got, and the faster and more difficult the game became. Aside from a two player link-up mode, this was your lot. This was what people were happy with.

But soon after the Game Boy’s world domination, many companies wanted to play Tetris God, and as such we saw many different variations of Tetris on different home consoles. These took the original Tetris formula and tried to revamp it so it was ‘funky’ and ‘street’ or something equally absurd. The worst example clearly being the Nintendo 64 title ‘Tetrisphere’, a game so eyeball-meltingly poor that our collective minds almost (almost) went to play ‘Iggy’s Wrecking Balls’ instead.

But even amongst the decent console remakes, playing it was pretty subpar. These developers were missing the point. Tetris is a game that works whilst on the move. It’s a handheld game, pure and simple. This fact wasn’t emphasised until seven or so years after the original game, when Tetris DX appeared for the Game Boy Color – the same game, only colourful, natch. Now that the Nintendo DS has its own version, we feared that Nintendo might have messed around with the original formula.

We needn’t have worried, really. Tetris DS retains the same exact classic game mode that we all know and love, and the presentation of the whole game has been made funkier with the addition of NES characters. To play the original Tetris games against a superbly foot-tapping remix of Super Mario Bros brings both joy and adrenaline at the same time. You can also play the original mode against the computer, or do a line clear challenge where you can set a number of lines to clear in a set difficulty.
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