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Nintendo DS Review: Tetris DS

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Tetris DS has proven itself to be probably one the greatest Tetris reincarnations ever created, with brand new game modes such as Touch Mode, Push Mode, and Mission Mode. Unfortunately, it didn’t include all of the great modes from THQ’s Tetris Worlds, but it did give respect to a handful of 8-bit NES games, which Nintendo fans will enjoy plenty. Tetris is one of the most addicting games to ever be created, and I guarantee, you will feel as though you have rediscovered the game all over again once you play Tetris DS.

The feel and presentation of Tetris DS will appeal to old-school Nintendo fans. When I first played the original Tetris mode, I felt amazed. The entire interface is filled with old-school game sprites, old sound effects, and old backgrounds. The moment you start the game, the old-school Mario jump sound effect comes up. The top screen shows the logo of Tetris DS and a handful of old-school Nintendo characters such as Link, Donkey Kong, and Yoshi, while the bottom is the menu to choose what game type you want to play. During the original marathon mode, you will hear the classic NES Mario theme, as well as have a classic Mario background in the back of your Tetris pieces on the bottom screen, and you will also notice that the top screen has a Mario sprite running through a level. For every Tetris line you acquire, Mario goes farther into the level he is in. I really thought this was just too cool.

Of course, since Mario is the top dog of Nintendo, you will see Mario run through various levels for 100 lines. After beating Bowser with line 100, the game then changes its look to other classic NES games. After Mario’s theme, you get 10 lines of Zelda, Excitebike, Ice Climbers, Balloon Pop, and many other classic games. The final 10 lines actually have the original Tetris theme and music, instead of using old NES game music. I thought it was pretty weak that you couldn’t play a Tetris theme all the way through.

Tetris DS features six game modes in total. There is Standard, Mission, Push, Touch, Puzzle, and Catch.

Standard Mode is your regular Tetris game. Tetris DS took a page from Tetris Worlds and ended up using the “Hold” box in this game, meaning you can use the L or R buttons to save a piece you want to use for later on. Although this is your standard Tetris game, as stated before, the only Tetris theme music you will hear will be on the last lines you achieve. You will play up to 200 lines, and then you’ll have completed Tetris DS. There are more specific options in Standard Mode, where you can play a marathon, go against a CPU, or line clear, which has you choosing how high you want your Tetris pieces to be when you start out.

Mission Mode has you completing certain objectives; such as clearing a line using a blue L shaped block, or clearing four lines at once. The theme for Mission Mode is meant to look like the classic NES Zelda. The heart containers on the bottom right hand corner of the screen serves as a timer, while the top of the screen tells you what to do. For every mission you complete, the missions get more difficult. You can also play the time trail for Mission Mode on five different levels, to see how fast you can complete all of the tasks.

Push Mode is a battle to see which player can push each other off the screen. You play on the top screen while your opponent plays on the bottom screen. For every two lines you get, you push your opponent one line down, and vice versa for you. Whoever can push their opponent off the screen wins. I found this mode to be challenging as well as very time-consuming, but it was still fun, nonetheless. The theme of Push Mode is the original Donkey Kong game.

Touch Mode is the only mode that uses the touch screen for game play. There is a stack of Tetris pieces that you must clear to get to your goal. To clear the Tetris pieces, you slide them to fall down, or tap them to flip/switch into place. Once the cage full of balloons that lay on top of the pieces hit the ground, you win the game. This mode isn’t that exciting. Too bad it’s the only mode in the game that requires you to use the touch screen.

Puzzle mode takes the theme of Yoshi’s Cookie. You have some selections on the bottom screen for you to choose from. The object of this mode is to clear all of the lines using only the pieces you have on the bottom screen.

The final mode, Catch Mode, involves you catching falling Tetris pieces with your four-sided base figure, or core. You must catch every falling piece with the core, and form a four-by-four figure. Once this is formed, it explodes and blows up most of the pieces you have captured with the core. If you miss any pieces, and allow them to hit the bottom of the bottom screen, you will lose some health. If a falling Metroid (This stage has a Metroid theme) hits your core, or any pieces on it, you will also lose health. The game is over once you lose all of your health, or if the figure becomes so huge, it can no longer fit on your screen. You can press and hold the L and R buttons to make the Tetris pieces fall down faster.

Wi-Fi Mode is where all of the fun can be found. This game is probably the most fun I’ve ever had out of a Nintendo Wi-Fi game. All of the excitement you get from rediscovering Tetris can now be shared with your friends and family from all over the world over Wi-Fi. Although the Wi-Fi game play is over the top fun, you can only play three limited play modes. There’s Push Mode, two-player Standard Mode (with no power ups), and four player Standard Mode (with power ups). You can’t play a three-player game, or play a two-player game with power ups on Wi-Fi, so there isn’t much customization when it comes to playing online multiplayer. If any of you have ever played Tetrinet before, you will be reminded of it as soon as you play Standard four player Mode, since power ups can be collected.

Now, most of the game modes are fun and addicting, but I really didn’t enjoy not being able to cascade my leftover Tetris pieces, just as in Tetris Worlds. I also found that although the Nintendo themes were pretty cool, they didn’t help the game that much. I mean, this is Tetris, after all. This is a game that many generations have played over and over again, and nothing new is really brought to the table. Basically, at the end of the day, it’s just Tetris.

Tetris DS is a great reincarnation of a classic puzzle game. There’s multiplayer, a great interface, tons of modes and great old school audio, but the game lacks the kind of addiction it used to give us all. This is a Tetris game most DS owners will have fun with, but overall, it’s just Tetris mixed in with Nintendo 8-bit all-stars.

Tetris DS is rated E (Everyone) by the ESRB.

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