Review: Tetris DS

Tetris DSYou’ve seen it, different shaped blocks falling into place to make solid horizontal lines. You’ve heard it, too. Play it long enough and the game music will haunt your dreams. Now you can touch it. Tetris makes its way to the first successful handheld to use a touch screen.

I suppose it was inevitable that the DS would get a Tetris game. Every system in recent history has gotten a Tetris game at some point in its life-cycle. It seems to be a hard sell these days, to take something you could play in the 1980’s and release it again and again – by itself. Fortunately for the minds at Nintendo, retro themes and new ways to play are more than enough to renew interest in the tried and tested concept that is Tetris.

First lets take a look at what makes up the single-player gameplay modes.

Standard

This the Tetris you know and love. Standard blocks fall from above, you rotate them as they drop to fit them into place. Variants include Line Clear which gives you pre-placed blocks and the challenge of clearing some of them away. You can also choose to play against a computer opponent, if you’re not near a wi-fi hotspot.

Push

This was included single-player against the CPU, but its real shining moments come with online play. You start at the top dropping blocks down as your opponent starts at the bottom dropping blocks up. The goal is to clear lines faster to push the game higher and higher onto their screen.

Touch

Drag tetriminoes from an almost endless tower. As you drag them with the stylus, you try to create lines and more fall from the tower. Bonus points are given for chains, and the goal is to release the balloon fighter trapped at the top. A puzzle variant of this has 50 levels, each with their own specific goal to be reached.

Puzzle

Given a set number of tetriminoes (3-5), you must place them in the proper position and order to clear all the lines in the puzzle. 200 stages of progressively harder puzzles.

Mission

Your given a task and a limited time to achieve it. Some are simple, such as use a T piece to clear a line. As it gets progressively harder, some goals would be to use an straight piece as if you clear four lines – but create a gap in one of the middle lines so you only clear three. Can be played to beat your own score single-player, or competitively multiplayer (local only)

Catch

Piloting single block, you are trying to catch falling tetriminoes which stick to you. You can move up, down, left and right to catch the block. When a solid 4×4 grid is made, it will detonate, taking all blocks and enemies in its path with it.

 

Each gameplay mode is fun in its own respect, most featuring different Nintendo character backdrops and music. This is where the game hooked me. Playing the game for the first time I actually smiled simply because of the atmosphere created by Mario, Zelda, Metroid, Balloon Fight, and other Nintendo favourites. While this is one of my favourite aspects of the game, it doesn’t take the crown. Multiplayer is where the fun is.

As long as two DS owners are within range of each-other a Tetris DS battle can ensue. Actually, as many as ten people can play off of one cartridge! This is the first game to handle that many players through DS Download Play. Of course Nintendo didn’t stop there, and added online play to further the multiplayer experience. Online play through Nintendo’s Wi-Fi Central is simple and fun. Playable modes online include Standard (2-4 players) and Push mode. Why they didn\’t include Mission mode online I have no clue.

Controls feel tight and responsive in every case except for Touch mode. The game seems to stop responding to your stylus after an event (blocks drop, etc). If you are trying to sweep a tetrimino from one side of the screen to the other, expect to touch it numerous times.

One thing I would have liked to have seen included in this game is rumble pak support. Many of Nintendo’s first-party games are beginning to include support for this option, including Metroid Prime: Hunters and Super Princess Peach. This is just wishful thinking, though. As cool and nostalgic the game feels, the retro themes don’t really add anything to the core gameplay… its just “there”. It’s a just touch, but it would have impressed me more to have had some integration.

As far as a handheld puzzle game goes, Tetris DS fulfills everything you could ask for; Quick thinking, puzzle-solving, and multiplayer. For those that remember the NES golden years fondly, this game delivers on the nostalgia level too. It’s still a bit pricy here in at $39.99, but if you’re a fan it’s worth it. I can see this game easily being one everyone who is remotely a puzzle fan will eventually own, bringing the DS further into the light of online play.

Time played: 6-7 hours

EPO Review Verdict: Buy

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