Great collection of Tetris-based games
Before buying Tetris: Axis, ask yourself this question:
Can I convince myself to pay $30 for a Tetris game in 2011?
If no, don't bother with the rest of this review. There is absolutely nothing in this world that I can do to convince you otherwise, I am certain. Blocks move down the screen, you line them up,and then clear the board, row by row by shining row.
However, if you are able to stomach the entry point (which is indeed $10 cheaper than most 3DS games, I should point out), you'll find that this is actually a fairly robust collection of Tetris-themed games, all in glorious 3D. That being said, the tetrominoes (or tetriminoes) themselves are only in good-ol' fashioned bi-dimensional space (at least when you view the board straight-on; they get polygonal when you angle it). The depth of the board (or well or matrix) that the pieces fall down can be rotated in the pause menu with the slide pad, but the problem is that it almost always easiest to play the game with the board in the normal orientation. I guess Alexey Pajitnov knew what he was doing in the first place.
So despite the fact that the 3D aspects of the game are fairly gimmicky, Tetris:Axis does have some good features. Modes include the classic Marathon, in which you go for a high-score with pieces never-endingly falling from the top, as well as computer battles (in which Bomberman is featured in this Hudson-developed game - surprise surprise!), Fever and Survival. The computer battles have items that put on the hurt on your opponent, while Fever and Survival both involve a narrow matrix. The former mode has you get the highest score in a single minute, while the latter makes you think fast to avoid topping out as the rows rise as you add pieces. Not the most inventive, but still excellent fun if you're in the mood.
The party modes are actually the more interesting part of the game, many of them not strictly involving clearing rows in any way, shape (nyuk), or form. Shadow Wide has stolen a lot of my time, mainly because I've had a hell of a lot of trouble getting the pieces to line up into the given shape. Basically, this mode has you trying to get the pieces to make a shape, like an alien, house, cat etc. (although an alien house cat would be amazing), but the trick is get the shape made without any hanging outside the 'shadowed' shape. It's actually quite devious because the pieces you get don't always work out well with what you have to construct.
Other party modes that I've played a decent amount of include:
- Fit - You're given a few pieces and you have to fit them into empty slots in a plane.
- Tower Climber - Get a guy to reach the top of a cylindrical tower by climbing Tetris pieces
- Stage Racer Plus - Manipulate the orientation of a piece to make it through an obstacle course
- Sprint - Basic Tetris, but a 40-line time attack
- Jigsaw - jigsaw puzzle with Tetris pieces
...And of course there is the ever-frustrating Master Mode in which tetrominoes move at there highest speed right from the start. And I absolutely suck at it.
Beyond that, there are AR version of Marathon and Tower Climber that use the 3DS's AR cards. These are essentially the same as their namesakes, but placed on top of an AR card in real space. Functionally they are fine, but it just makes playing these modes more a pain in the ass than anything else.
There is also multiplayer, both ad-hoc (single and multi- cart) and online. I haven't had a chance to really dig into these modes, so I can't truly comment. From what I understand though, it's fairly similar to the single player computer battles.
Most of the modes in this game are good to great to seriously addictive, and it all hinges on how much you want to play Tetris. Like Tetris enough to want to play some other modes? Get this. Don't care enough to play anything unique out of this list? Pass on it. Like I said before, the 3D is really gimmicky and doesn't add a hell of a lot to the experience, which is a disappointment, but alternatively it doesn't get in the way of one of the best games of all time.