Tetris DS (DS) review
"There can never be too much said about the quality found within the hallowed halls of the Tetris franchise. Whether you look at it as simplistic, yet forceful or charmingly intricate, the seriesí undeniably splendid gameplay and enduring replay value is a benchmark for all future puzzlers. With Tetris DS, the concept is simple enough: present a game that manages to utilize some of the DSí functions, add a bevy of game modes, and keep the same vintage gameplay in tact; suffice to say that Tetri..."
There can never be too much said about the quality found within the hallowed halls of the Tetris franchise. Whether you look at it as simplistic, yet forceful or charmingly intricate, the seriesí undeniably splendid gameplay and enduring replay value is a benchmark for all future puzzlers. With Tetris DS, the concept is simple enough: present a game that manages to utilize some of the DSí functions, add a bevy of game modes, and keep the same vintage gameplay in tact; suffice to say that Tetris DS, while nothing revolutionary, does just that.
Whatís immediately startling is the omission of classic Tetris tunes. Instead, in its place are sounds and clips from a myriad of Nintendoís flagship franchises, including Zelda, Mario, Donkey Kong, and even Balloon Fight. Every mode of play has one franchise as the central theme and background during play. While a neat little feature on one hand, itís kind of saddening to not hear the bleeps and bloops weíve all grown to love (although you can unlock the original Tetris song).
After the initial phase of longing dissipates, youíll be delighted to see that the assembly of modes (including a Standard Mode, so donít fret old-schoolers) available really diversify a straightforward puzzle game like Tetris. Push Mode, my personal favorite, pits you against the opponent with nothing to start with but one lone block near the center of the arena. The goal is to use this block as a foundation for the rest of the blocks that are falling. Eradicating two or more lines will push the pile of blocks towards your opponentís end of the board. When you either get pushed to the top of the board or push your opponent to the bottom, the game ends. Another, Mission Mode, doesnít fare as well; itís too complex for its own good. Basically, you have a core of blocks, a barrage of falling blocks, and some obstacles that are disseminated across the screen to halt your progress. Youíre trying to accumulate a four-by-four set of blocks by rotating the core to fit the pieces in. After you get a set of blocks, you can blow it up, destroying obstacles in your path and leading to a bunch of points; you even have a life meter that diminishes if you hit the obstacles. This mode, while innovative in concept, really strays too far from the blazed trail and doesnít really belong in a Tetris game. Touch Mode is pretty much what it sounds like. You simply touch the blocks to make them rotate or to move them from side to side as you try to eliminate as many lines as possible. Thereís even a rudimentary Puzzle Mode that forces you to use a combination of three different blocks to eliminate all of the blocks on the screen; very simple in design yet brain teasing at times. Lastly, Mission Mode tasks you to accomplish certain feats under criteria set before hand. For example, you might have to use a certain block to eliminate two lines at once.
While all of these modes seem tantalizing in their own right, the meat and potatoes lie in the heavily recruited multiplayer aspect. The fact that with one game card you can play with up to nine other players is a testament to how much weight multiplayer pulls around. Simple Standard Mode matches can be incredibly heated and present some highly enticing gameplay. Online play is very easy to access, and its quick, concise nature bodes well for a pick-up-and-play title like Tetris. Some matches even use Mario Kart esque powerups to spice up the competition.
What makes Tetris DS distinctive, though, is its use of subtle gameplay tweaks to make the process of block eliminating that much easier. Now, instead of only being able to see one block ahead, you can now witness five blocks ahead and can strategize to accommodate the newfound knowledge. Also, an option to put a shadow below the blocks lets you see where the block will land prior to actually visually lining it up. Also, with a quick flick up on the d-pad, you can instantly drop a block to the bottom. Although these tweaks are indeed small, they can have a noticeably dramatic effect on the outcome of a game online.
On a macro scale, Tetris DS excels. Thereís nothing amazing or awe-inducing, but itíll undoubtedly bring you back for another go down memory lane. The same addictive qualities of the original are here, and that on its own is formidable. Forget the fact that thereís no pulse-pounding action, hyper realistic graphics or highly innovative, new material. Itís proven. Itís solid, and itís fun. Tetris DS is a quality title that will appease to puzzle aficionados and those new to the scene as well.
Community review by Linkamoto (April 02, 2006)
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