fishdalf's Tetris DS (Nintendo DS) review

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It's Tetris and not much else.


Tetris is the art of placing ‘Tetriminos’ into a grid with the sole aim of clearing them in horizontal rows, now we have the blatantly obvious out of the way lets go back to where it all began. Tetris made a name for itself way back with the release of the Game Boy, such a name infact that many gamers still consider to this day the original ‘block-busting’ classic their favourite game of all time. There has been much deliberation as to whether the Game Boy made Tetris famous or if it was infact the other way around, I will leave this open for you to decide but there is no question in my mind. Perhaps the bigger question should be how a game with such simplistic gameplay mechanics builds to a game that is so compelling and addictive it has you coming back for more time and time again. I’m sure many of you as did I played the original over and over until your eyes bled; then as time passed played it on your mobile phone or some other similar device and did it all over again. It just never seems to get old and why should it? Tetris essentially redefined a genre and here we are 17 years later and it’s still withstanding the test of time.

Tetris DS stays pretty close to its roots, the gameplay that made it so famous could have been easily sacrificed for the sake of a gimmick but thankfully I’m pleased to say it hasn’t. This game does however add minor tweaks here and there which are so well-implemented that once you play through the game a few times you will start to appreciate them more and more. Perhaps the biggest addition comes in the form of the ‘hold’ function; this allows you to store a single block of your choosing with a quick tap of the R trigger. There are a few reasons why this comes in handy; sometimes you may hold a piece to help you later on through the game like a straight Tetrimino for example. Alternatively you may simply not like the piece that is falling and decide to swap it for your benefit. This adds new depth and tactics and in some instances can turn the tide of battle in your favour. Imagine the game handing you a straight piece which in turn you use to clear 4 rows; then using your stored straight piece you continue to clear another 4 rows and put your opponent in all sorts of trouble. The game also grants you the ability to see the next 6 pieces coming your way, while some may argue this makes it way too easy I disagree, I think it allows for the game to be played at a quicker pace.

Let’s get one thing cleared up for anyone who is looking to buy this game, this is a multiplayer game. Yes it may have single-player aspects but this is just icing on what is a very delicious multiplayer cake, so if you are buying this game for the sole purpose of playing by yourself you will be sorely disappointed. This game allows for up to 10 players to compete with each other at the same time which sounds dauntingly fantastic if you ask me. If you have that many friends with that many DS systems then you are going to be in for one hell of a gaming experience, what’s more you only need one single game cartridge to delve into the multiplayer madness. The Tetris trip can also be taken online and won’t be too dissimilar to what the Mario Kart fans amongst us are used to. The lobby’s and set-up screens look alarmingly similar and you have the option of entering a specific friend code or jumping straight into the action.

There are a few multiplayer modes on offer here, none compare to the original but are worth a small mention none-the-less. Firstly I feel I should mention the option of adding items to your basic game through the multiplayer options screen, this adds fresh elements to your matches. Certain blocks will have question marks attached to them, clear a line with a question mark on and you receive an item that can be unleashed with a tap of the X button. These items are thought out very well, you will use lightning which prevents your opponent rotating their pieces, mushrooms which speeds their blocks up and stars which give you nothing but straight pieces for a limited time. There was so much potential here but sadly there are only a handful of items on offer, perhaps if we are to see a sequel they can make better use of the item concept. There is a newly added Mission Mode which sees you competing in a series of mini-challenges; the user who achieves the most points within a set time limit is the winner or if you prefer the user who completes a certain number of challenges first takes the crown. These challenges vary from clearing specific rows within your grid to clearing as many rows as you can with square shaped Tetriminos. While these can be pretty fun you will start to see the same old challenges requested of you over and over again. The other multiplayer mode on offer goes by the name of Push Mode and is rather fun; kind of confusing at first but once you get the hang of it you will really appreciate its value. Let’s just say you and your opponent are both using the same grid only from opposite ends in a crazy Tetris battle to the death.

This game does have a single-player but just about every single mode is trivial and has nothing to offer in terms of rewards thus making them pretty pointless really. Then again Tetris has never tried to be anything other than a multiplayer game, it’s just s shame they cannot be bothered to implement a single-player actually worth playing. Even though it is against my better judgment I will briefly list the modes the single-player has to offer you. There is Touch Mode which lets players use the touch screen to form combos; this gets boring after about 10 minutes and the control system is borderline awful. There is Catch Mode which sees you catching clusters of blocks and rearranging them into grids of fours; while it can be fun for a while it doesn’t have any real lasting appeal. There are also a few other modes which are even worse than these, lets move on shall we.

The sound is simplistic as is the way with just about every Tetris game thus far, the soundtrack and effects while simplistic do make for a pretty nice backdrop. I just cannot believe they haven’t included any of the original soundtracks that fans have come to know and love, what were they thinking!?. Don’t get me wrong the new tunes are good but they cannot compare to the music of the original or games such as Tetrisphere. The graphics are good but a game like Tetris isn’t exactly going to push the DS to it’s graphical limits. There are quirky little animations taking place on the top screen as you play across the bottom though, just a shame these don’t even remotely have anything to do with the actual game of Tetris.

All-in-all this game is more of the same, the only real reason to buy this would be to experience the multiplayer on a much larger scale and in all honesty that sounds like something I want in on.

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