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Adam Guetti
05 Nov, 2011

Tetris Review

3DS Review | Is this the classic Tetris we all know and love, or is it a few blocks short of a cleared line?
Tetris - it's a title that helped define an era, possessing a vast and prosperous history; all while lending itself to gradually become one of the key avenues for gamers to show off their gaming chops against one another. It's also one game that manages to appear on virtually any platform available. From computers, to mobiles, this block shifting phenomenon is pretty much everywhere. Now it's hit Nintendo's 3DS, in the fairly regular shape of Tetris (an apt name if we've ever seen one). But is this the classic Tetris we all know and love, or is it a few blocks short of a cleared line?

Boot up your 3DS and right from the get go you will be presented with three basic mode selections: Featured Modes, Party Modes and AR Modes; each packed with its own Tetris inspired mini game for you to sift through. While featured modes consist of the basic marathon, survival and computer battles, alongside the item-filled fever mode, it’s the party mode where things start to get a little more interesting. Each selection features a Tetromino inspired variation, such as ‘Shadow Wide’ that forces players to set up a particular block layout only to have the matrix flipped as you attempt to match the same pattern, or ‘Jigsaw,’ where you are presented varying matrixes that you must fill with a set number of Tetrominoes. One of our particular favourites would have to be ‘Stage Racer Plus’ - a race course of sorts where you must continually shift a falling Tetromino’s shape to adapt to a an ever changing matrix until you reach your goal. Take too long, or get stuck however and you will quickly be faced with a game over screen and the option to give have another crack at progressing to the next level.

The poor little guy has no idea what's happening.

The poor little guy has no idea what's happening.
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Another more original concept is ‘Tower Climber;’ a mini game that focuses upon dropping Tetrominos alongside a cylindrical matrix to create a makeshift blocky ladder for an unknown character to climb. With a rapidly decreasing life bar you must speedily increase the height of your contraption while leading the unnamed being to precious life bars so that he may continue his journey.

Finally we have the AR modes, whereby you can use both the 3DS’ camera along with those dusty AR cards to take part in AR Marathon or AR Climber. Both will have you playing the basic Tetris mode, with your real life world projected as the background. It’s a nifty implementation and will surely impress some friends, but the novelty only lasts so long and you’re probably not going to be playing the mode in public.

Aside from these offline modes, you also have the option to battle some friends locally through versus modes, like Standard Battle, VS Stage Battle and VS Capture, or conversely you can work together in a Co-operative version of the Tower Climber party game. Similarity you can also battle wannabe Tetris stars online, although you are rather restricted to ether world battle or friend battle. While having such a number of options to play with close by friends is certainly welcome, it’s a rather strange decision not to include all the different modes for online play and in turn limit players to basic battles, especially considering the wealth of modes they could have drawn from. It’s a decision that slightly mars the online experience, despite the caliber of challenge international competitors posses.

With over 20 modes on offer, it's hard not to argue that the amount of game that Tetris packs into one cartridge is unquestionably meaty. That said however, while a few of games can be rather enjoyable, none possess that inbuilt enthralling nature that Tetris veterans have come to expect. We were waiting for something to come along that would re-instill that long dormant line clearing itch, yet sadly it never appeared.

Even the Mii looks disinterested. Or he's 'dancing'... either one.

Even the Mii looks disinterested. Or he's 'dancing'... either one.
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So we are led to the ultimate problem with this particular iteration of the classic title. Tetris as an experience demands a fostering of pure addiction in order for it to be truly successful, yet it's this addiction is sorely lacking. The core gameplay may remain as enjoyable as it once was, it’s just that it's presented in a rather disappointingly empty shell of a package. It lacks the flair and style to help draw newcomers in or reinvigorate long time fans.

Where Tetris for the original DS filled the screen with both nostalgia and assorted visuals, this 3DS version is rather plain and stark in comparison, aside from your selected Mii being around on the bottom screen for novelty. The 3D effects try to make up for everything, but they can only do so much. Speaking of 3D though, even its implementation can become rather disorientating, especially as the screen starts to build up and the pressure increases. A lot of the time you will actually find yourself turning the 3D level down, or off entirely which just ends up making proceedings even more bland.

It might sound like Tetris for the 3DS is a bad game that you should avoid at all costs; but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s no doubt a difficult task to continue to make Tetris, a classic game that has been around for decades, constantly fresh, but this 3DS certainly tries. The basic formula thankfully remains unchanged, and it all handles wonderfully, so if you've been missing your block puzzle ways then by all means there is a lot on offer here. It’s just that for veterans, Tetris for 3DS simply lacks that extra special hook that manages to draw any generation into it’s grasp, which is all the more disappointing given what Nintendo’s handheld can do when you push it to its limits.
The Score
If you’re after a quick Tetris fix, and you own a 3DS, this iteration is an obvious choice. For those who have every other version on the market though, it might not do enough to continue the blocky wonderland. 7
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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