i really enjoyed the time i’d spent replaying the original game boy tetris a while back, but much as i enjoy it i don’t find myself yearning to play it. but i have a couple of other versions i’ve been meaning to try out, so the first one i tackled was tetris plus, also for game boy (and super game boy). the game isn’t particularly novel as far as versions of tetris go. its main mode is very similar to the same game we all know and love, with some minor differences, namely: you can see two pieces ahead instead of just one; the levels advance either after you place ten pieces or after a certain amount of time elapses (the timer is indicated by a display on the left hand of the screen); and the well is slightly smaller (10×17 instead of 10×18). the controls feel marginally stiffer than the original game boy game, but otherwise there’s not much difference and i found myself enjoying the straightforward mechanics as much as ever.
so much for the original mode. the element that divides gameplayers is undoubtedly the second mode, which is called the “puzzle” mode. modes built around the original tetris mechanics have felt much more awkward to me than not, and this one is no exception (the one exception i can think of is the “game B” mode of the original game boy version which succeeds perhaps because it’s so close to the main mode). in this mode a character wanders around the board and your goal is to get him to the bottom of the screen. oftentimes this is a simple matter of just clearing away lines, much like the previously mentioned game B mode, but there are times when a little more strategy is required. at first i was among the group of people who detest the mode and find it supremely pointless, but as i played through the majority of the 100 levels it grew on me. like my previous observation of the original game boy version this mode does require a fair amount of luck in terms of the pieces you’re given, and although i didn’t come to love it, it was diverting enough. to break up the monotony a bit there are some cartoon stills in between stages and you get bonuses for completing stages in less than a minute or so, and you also collect treasure icons after every few rounds for a total of 7 for each set of 20 stages. the treasures themselves are the usual video game variety, e.g. a pig statue, a moai statue, a crystal ball, a map, although it wasn’t clear if the types of treasures you get are dependent on how quickly you clear the stages or not. the graphics and music are fine, although most reviews online are of the playstation or sega saturn versions which seem to be basically the same as the game boy version and thus get criticized for having such simplistic graphics.
certainly not the worst version of tetris, but not a standout one either. one thing that struck me this time in particular was how even after years of playing tetris my “game” continues to improve. that surprising depth and the game’s math-like elegant simplicity keep me coming back for more again and again, and that endless replay value is surely the sign of a great game. i went ahead and tried out the DS version and am looking forward to playing more of that game, including playing more wi-fi multiplayer.
fittin’ in some tetris plus links:
– entry at allgame.com of the saturn version, which seems to be basically the same
– entry at wikipedia
– apparently there’s a tetris wiki, and it has some pretty interesting trivia. it has a page of details on “the tetris guideline”, which apparently is “the current specification that The Tetris Company enforces for making all new (2001 and later) Tetris game products alike in form”. interesting.
– apparently you can get a tetris ice cube tray. this discussion at gonintendo points out an alternate source, thinkgeek.com. kewl.