There are three modes one can play in The New Tetris: marathon, sprint, and ultra. In marathon, you simply play until you lose. With the sprint gametype, you try to make as many lines as you can within the three minute time limit, and in ultra you are trying to clear 150 lines as fast as possible. This version of Tetris also has multiplayer, enough for up to four players at a time, and these same three game modes are also available for multiplayer, with added options for how you want to handle garbage: none, directed, or hot potato.
Besides being able to clear lines like in a classic Tetris game, you can now form gold and silver blocks by making a 4x4 square out of tetrominos. Lines with gold blocks in them, made out of all same-shaped tetrominos, are worth ten points where a standard line is worth one. Silver blocks can be formed from any four pieces as long as it results in a 4x4 square, but the line cleared is only worth five points.
The New Tetris also features a wonder-building mode, where you build wonders such as the Sphinx, Stonehenge and the Pantheon out of the lines you clear in any of the game modes. You can check your current wonder's progress at any time. Once you complete the set, they are reset with even higher requirements.
Hidden ROM Text
There is a famous rant by David Pridie hidden inside the ROM for The New Tetris. Inside David rants about how he dislikes the game he made and wishes they could have had more time working on it to make the game he wanted. He also thanks several co-workers and Nintendo. The entire rant is over 2000 words long.
There are several pieces of ASCII Art hidden in the ROM as well including a Canadian Flag, an N64 logo and the logo for the game as well as a few others. Additionally there are much smaller rants by some of the other developers as well.