Tetris DS Review
What Nintendo portable system doesn't have a Tetris game made for it? It is hard to believe that, after over 20 years of being in existence, Tetris is still this popular. The simplistic puzzler that originally came out on the PC has become a staple in video games. The simple design of rotating sets of four blocks to make lines was ideal for portable systems - Nintendo picked up on this idea and released the game for the NES and GameBoy...and history was made.
Now, over 20 years after the game idea was first invented in Russia, Nintendo DS owners get a portable version of the game. Tetris DS includes a classic mode which is the Tetris that many of us have grown up with. Also included are the following modes:
Catch: Rotate a block to catch falling tetriminos and create a 4x4 or larger block that you can then detonate - Metroid-themed.
Mission: Accomplish varying missions before you run out of life. Missions include completing four lines at once and using certain pieces to finish lines - Legend of Zelda themed.
Puzzle: Choose the right order to drop your few pieces in to clear all the blocks on the screen. Yoshi-themed.
Touch: Move blocks on the bottom screen by dragging them left or right. Gravity will pull down pieces when there is space available. Balloon Fighter themed.
Push: Drop pieces and complete lines. Complete multiple lines at once to push the set of blocks towards your opponent. Donkey Kong themed.
The five additional game modes each offer a very different type of game play to the original Tetris formula. My personal favorite is catch - while it isn't enough to stand alone as a puzzle game, it is probably the most 'different' mode of Tetris that I've ever played.
Something I wasn't very happy with, though, was the addition of the 'hold' piece, the six-piece preview and the ability to rotate pieces forever. See, you can hold a piece and swap it for one that is coming up, totally changing the Tetris dynamic of making do with what you had. You can also see the next six pieces - this makes the game far easier as you can now plan much farther ahead instead of trying to leave holes that fit more than one type of piece. Finally, the rotate a piece forever thing was the most annoying of all - just keep jamming the rotate button and the piece never drops. This really made the faster speed at higher levels near worthless since I had all the time I wanted to plan piece drops.
Of course, Tetris DS also does a lot right - the biggest thing being online multiplayer. Yes, folks, you can play Tetris online. For anyone that has had the chance to play Tetrinet, you'll instantly recognize the 4-player multiplayer version. You'll have Mario-themed items, my favorite being the star - I love getting the long 4x1 blocks. Other items include a red shell that knocks out some lines at the bottom of the screen and a banana that flies down an opponent's screen. Online multiplayer also has a ranking system and will track wins.
Getting to a multiplayer game is easy - you can just hit worldwide battle and you'll be randomly matched up with three other players. Alternatively, you can play with friends if you have their friend code. All you need is a wireless router -- it can be an official Nintendo hotspot, out at a Starbucks or even in your home.
While the six modes of Tetris included on this cartridge make it a value, multiplayer Tetris takes the game and hits a grand slam. Do you have nine other friends with a Nintendo DS? Well, get them all together with a single Tetris DS cartridge - you can all play a game. Yes - 10-player Tetris is made a reality (Tetrinet capped out at, if I remember right, six players).
The graphics in the game are the standard Tetris fare - the blocks are all colored differently based on how they are put together and still use the traditional rotations included in every release for the past 20 years. An addition, however, are the 'levels' you will play in. Every 10 lines, the background will shift as will the look of the blocks. On standard mode, for example, you'll have a Mario Brothers themed background with scenes from the Mario games. Each of the levels feels appropriate to the 'theme' for the game.
The sounds are a bit different, however. Missing is the one thing that I really wanted to hear but couldn't find for the life of me - the original Tetris theme. Tetris simply isn't Tetris without the original theme. Outside of that, though, there are remixes from the various games that have a theme appearing here. My particular favorites are the Legend of Zelda songs. The music, while fun, doesn't allow you to hear much in the way of sounds that have become classic in Tetris, from the rotating of blocks to the thunk a block makes when it drops.
Overall, Tetris DS is a damn fun package. Nintendo has taken and created yet another must-have version of Tetris. The themed levels are fun, the new game modes add a lot to an already complete franchise and the multiplayer mode is one of the best I've ever seen in a puzzle game. Tetris DS is a must-have for any Nintendo DS owner, even if you already have a copy for every other Nintendo system that you own.