although i have big love for tetris, as a series my appreciation stays pretty constant since the core experience is so perfect that there’s really not much that game developers can do to improve the experience. as i noted in my review of natsume’s tetris plus, variations of the game tend to feel more awkward than enjoyable.
nintendo took a stab at evolving the series with tetris DS. the game features tons of 8-bit retro love (including cameos by classic games such as ice climber), but the ease of playing portable multiplayer ended up being the game’s biggest draw, and as it’s one of the few games my sister will play it was fun to go head to head in the local vs. mode (only requiring one game card for up to 8 players). the core gameplay feature the now-standard tetris mechanics, including hard drops, ghost view, a hold piece, as well as infinite spins and T-spins and being able to preview the next 6 pieces instead of just one. infinite spins definitely make the game a lot easier to progress at high levels and although i have mixed feelings about it overall i’d say it makes the gameplay more enjoyable.
the donkey kong-themed “push” mode, in which you’re vying over space on the board with your opponent, similar to lumines’ vs. mode, was pretty fun and better balanced than lumines, and overall it was probably the best of the new variations. the wi-fi random matchups were also a big draw, although it was a bit demoralizing to see how average my skills are when compared to the rest of the world, especially japanese players. ah, well; a little humility never hurt anyone, i suppose.
the rest of the modes were fairly average, including a zelda-themed mission mode and a puzzle mode. the new vs. mode featuring mario kart-inspired weapons and the touch-based puzzle mode were only mildly entertaining. the metroid-themed catch mode, in which instead of rotating blocks you rotate the place they fit into, was easily the least satisfying of the lot, and i quickly grew bored of its slow pace and its tedium.
overall a decent update to the classic game, but aside from the addition of wi-fi and the ease of multiplayer it doesn’t offer substantial improvements to the core, already perfect gameplay. nintendo apparently fairly quickly stopped producing copies of the game, so it was fairly rare until pirated copies flooded the scene. if you’re itching for some portable tetris action there are plenty of easier-to-obtain options, but this one does have the benefit of a big helping of NES 8-bit nostalgia.
compete against these tetris DS links:
- there’s a huge amount of info on tetris, including tetris DS, online. here are the entries at nintendo.wikia.com, tetris.wikia.com, and wikipedia.
- the entry at mario.wikia.com lists all of the game themes from standard mode, and some guy has recorded all the top-screen videos. here’s the one from urban champion and the one from duck hunt.
- PDF of instruction manual at nintendo.com
- cool commercial
- apparently back in the day nintendo licensed tetris snack crackers. awesome.
- great related comic