Did you ever have a friend that you would sit down and play Tetris with and they absolutely sucked at it? No matter what they did, no matter how far they leaned over on the edge of their chair and concentrated, you were still better than them? Well, I was that friend to someone, somewhere. I suck at Tetris. My friends and I play Tetris drunk against each other and even when theyíre drunk, I still get totally trounced every single time. Iíll occasionally win a round when they stop in the middle to take a shot or get another beer, but theyíll just come back and beat me in the next one. Itís a game that I just canít regularly win.
Itís also a game that I canít stop playing. Iím generally an easy mode type of guy. I like my games for enjoyment over challenge. Now, I know there are lots of people out there that enjoy being challenged. Iím not one of them. I throw controllers into walls and my floor when I feel cheated by games. After playing Midnight Club 2 and Shadow of Rome, I had to buy new controllers. I donít normally like being overly challenged by games, but I donít mind that Tetris kicks my ass. Instead of throwing my controller into the floor after Iíve been beaten five times in a row, I just hit retry and start over with Tetris. Itís such an addictive game and even though it constantly kicks my ass, Iím never more satisfied when playing any game then when I actually do somehow manage to beat the computer or one of my buddies in a round of Tetris.
Now, Tetris has finally hit the DS and on first glance, the game is exactly the same as it used to be. I used to give Nintendo a whole lot of crap about their constant re-releasing of the same games on their different platforms, and though they do whore out their mascots a hell of a lot, I understand that they canít really do a whole lot more with some of their games. I mean, itís Tetris. Itís a game about blocks falling from the sky and arranging them in lines so they disappear. What can you really change from the formula without totally screwing up the gameís very simple mechanics? Part of the joy of Tetris is the sheer simplicity of the game. Nearly any person who picks up a controller or a system to play even the earliest versions of Tetris can grasp the concept of it in seconds and play. What more can we expect from the game?
Apparently we can expect quite a bit. Nintendo created quite a few new modes outside of the standard modes that weíve seen since the original Tetris. To incorporate the touch pad, Nintendo created a new mode where you can use the touch pad and stylus to move around oversized Tetroids, but I didnít really like the mode that much. Itís not bad, but thereís no real time limit or anything, so it feels less challenging than traditional ďMarathon Mode.Ē The ultimate goal of that mode is to clear every block from the giant tower that’s presented to you, but I don’t know, there wasn’t as much challenge as I’d like. Thereís also ďTouch PuzzleĒ mode. I spent a lot of time in this mode, because it made me feel like I was five and playing with Legos again. Touch Puzzle mode gives you a set number of puzzle pieces that you can manipulate with the touch pad in order to achieve a goal. The goals range from clearing all the blocks on the screen, a certain number of rows, or clearing a certain number of Tetroids simultaneously. Itís incredibly addicting and to make your time loss even worse, there are fifty puzzles to plow through. Thereís also an additional standard puzzle mode that doesnít incorporate the touch pad thatís nearly as addictive and even more robust, with over 200 puzzles. The standard puzzle mode is a little less interesting than Touch Puzzle because it doesn’t implement the touch pad, but it kept me very occupied.
Thereís also a new mode called ďCatch ModeĒ that I also really enjoyed. In Catch Mode, you play in a Metroid themed stage and control a block on the bottom screen. Pieces fall from the top screen and you have to arrange them onto your block. Once they form a four-by-four block, it detonates and explodes, making your block smaller and allowing you to progress. You canít spin the falling pieces, but you can spin your block, so youíll have to approach the pieces very carefully to ensure a perfect fit. Sometimes enemies from the Metroid series will pop up and if you canít eliminate them through an explosion or avoid them, they can damage you. So not only do you have to worry about not being able to create an explosion, you also have an energy bar that you need to consider. I liked this mode a lot because as you progress, the size of your main piece becomes massive and it becomes harder to get pieces to fall into the right spots to prevent explosions. The more pieces you can get together and blow up, the more points you get, so the emphasis is really on creating the most massive catch piece you can. This is another time-sucking mode.
Whatís possibly the coolest thing about this entire game is that the whole thing is themed. Not only does Samus grace us with her presence in Catch Mode, but Link shows up during ďMission ModeĒ, and Mario runs around the top screen during Marathon Mode, exploring several levels from his NES adventures while you clear line after line below. These are just nice touches that pull you right back into the era of the original Tetris. For a couple of truly old-school gesture, in ďPush ModeĒ, Donkey Kong is throwing barrels with the Princess by his side and during the standard puzzle mode, it’s all Yoshi’s Cookie themed. In Push Mode, your opponent controls pieces on the bottom of the screen and you control pieces on the top of the screen. Your pieces and your opponentís pieces come together in the middle and you compete to push the other to their demise by clearing more rows than they can. Since you can’t control how the Tetroids lineup on the bottom of the screen, you have to make a lot of good moves on the side you can. Like Touch Puzzle and Catch Mode, I was incredibly addicted to this mode as soon as I started playing.
Tetris doesnít need incredible graphics, fancy sound effects, or Hollywood voice-overs to be enjoyable. Itís a refreshing change of pace from all these high-profile releases with obnoxious celebrity cameos and seizure-inducing graphical effects. Tetris DS does what Tetris has always done: delivers an addictive, simple, and challenging game that anyone can enjoy and Tetris DS also does it with a few new bells and whistles that give you even more than you need to enjoy it. You can play it against the computer, against your friends with a single cartridge and a couple of systems, or you can play it against someone on the other side of the planet. This is essentially the same Tetris that youíve played before. Iím not complaining and you wonít either.
Nine out of ten