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March 20, 2006


- Great compilation of Tetris puzzling

- The 8-bit retro theme is very fitting

- Wi-Fi multiplayer can be a lot of fun



- Music can become boring during long play sessions

- There's no such thing as a short game of Tetris



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Tetris DS

Score: 8.1 / 10


Though it has been cloned many times, Tetris has never been duplicated.  Most challengers to the Tetris Throne of Falling Blocks have either missed the mark completely or niched out their own existence by taking the Tetris formula and dodging out into different territory with it.  Most recently this can be seen with the likes of Meteos (DS) or Lumines (PSP) but without Tetris as the catalyst it could be argued that all the similar titles would have never been, which is why I’m glad that Tetris DS does such a good job bringing the classic Tetris back.


Although I feel a bit silly doing it since it’s presumed everyone know what Tetris is, I feel somewhat obligated to provide a brief description.


tetris ds review      tetris ds review     tetris ds review


The game screen presents an empty “bowl” which slowly fills up with seven different kinds of blocky objects – or Tetriminos – that fall from above.  The objective is to rotate the Tetriminos so interlock with the other Tetriminos and create complete horizontal lines, which are then removed from the bowl.  Maybe I don’t do the description justice, but on paper it just doesn’t sound that fun.  In practice, it’s a completely different experience.  It’s a deceptively simple concept.


Tetris DS presents six different modes of play.  They are Standard, Push, Puzzle, Mission , Catch and Touch.


The standard mode captures the endless gameplay of the original Tetris. The blocks will keep falling until you either give up or run out of space in the bowl. Mission and Puzzle modes take the Standard mode a step further by making success contingent upon filling specific criteria. Mission foists increasingly difficult objective as the 




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game progresses, like clearing three lines by use of specific Tertriminos. Puzzle mode provides you with a handful of Tetriminos to clear the puzzle. There are 200 of them to clear. Some will twist your brain, others are just a matter of trial and error.


Catch mode takes place in a top-to-bottom scrolling Metroid landscape where you move your “core” around catching the oncoming Tetriminos. It feels a little 


like a 2D Katamari Damacy because you have to rotate the core and fit the Tetriminos in where you can. Once a four-by-four block has been filled (or more), it starts flashing then boom! it takes out your collected Tetriminos. To complicate things a bit are random metroids that get in the way. Hitting one blasts a section of your collected core, which can actually be beneficial if you’ve screwed up your planning. On higher difficulty Catch proves to be a real challenge and probably the mode I’ve played most.


Push pits two players against each other – one on the top one on the bottom.  Completing a line pushes the bottom/top of your “bowl” into the other player’s screen.  Against human opponents this is a great play option.


Touch is the only mode that makes use of the touchscreen.  There’s a stack of multi-colored Tetriminos the base of which can be sort out to form vertical lines.  Tapping one of the blocks rotates the piece.  It’s a fairly basic mode and other than making use of the touchscreen there’s not much to recommend it over the other modes.


Tetris DS also features a full compliment of Wi-Fi support.  It’s a great option when you don’t have an opponent handy.


Stylistically Tetris DS goes for the retro Nintendo look.  Original 8-bit figures prominently into the themes and backgrounds, like Zelda, Mario, Metroid, and even a throwback all the way to Donkey Kong.  It’s a great fit considering how old Tetris is and that it showed up on the (original) GameBoy around 1989.  Not quite as engrossing is the music that accompanies the action.  Tetris was never really known for quick gameplay – some of my more intense sessions stretched out for an hour or more in one sitting – so the tunes quickly recycle themselves.  They aren’t particularly annoying but after you’ve heard them a zillion times they start to get a little boring.


Puzzle fans should be all over this – besides the classic Tetris there are enough variations to keep the challenge consistent.  The Wi-Fi support will help extend the time Tetris DS will stay on your playlist but for a classic like Tetris – going strong since 1985! – you don’t need a good reason to break it out.


- Omni

(April 2, 2006)


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