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Tetris 3DS is a treasure chest of game modes and options. There are a couple of ragged edges, but for the most part this collection is a definitive narrative in the block stacking cannon.
Tetris is part of the psyche. It's one of those simple games which trains you into playing it better. I wouldn't be lying if I admitted that I have occasionally had dreams about falling Tetriminoes after playing it regularly. A couple of years ago there were even articles suggesting that the process of playing Tetris could be used to support treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, so effective is its simple shape-matching mechanic in channeling mental activity.
Ultimately, what really sells Tetris is that it's a great fun game. Over the years the format has been tinkered with by many developers, including Nintendo themselves. The 3DS version of Tetris represents, to me, the culmination of Nintendo's experimentation with the format and includes just about every worthwhile game offshoot. Standard Marathon is included, obviously, as does the bewildering Fever mode. These are considered to be of such primal importance that they are given shortcuts from the startup screen prior to the main menu.
A few of these modes stand out in particular. Climber sees you building a pathway to the top of a cylindrical tower so that a tiny figure can climb to the top. It's not a straightforward challenge as health powerups have to be collected en-route to extend the time. Climber comes in two modes, one of which uses the original AR Card to superimpose the tower onto your physical environment and requires you to move around the tower as the figure climbs. It's a nice quirk, but ultimately the smaller playfield is less satisfying than the normal mode.
I have occasional dreams about falling Tetriminoes.
Stage Racer and Bombliss plus are also worth highlighting. Stage Racer turns the column in a winding track through which a Tetrimino must be rotated to run the course and reach the end against the clock. Bombliss Plus twists the formula by lacing each falling block with a tiny explosive which will clear blocks around; it becomes a brain-aching challenge to switch away from standard line-clearance and work out where the bombs needs to be.
Shadow Wide is my favourite of the alternative Tetris games. It provides the silhouette of an object and tasks you with filling the shape exactly using a mix of shapes. It seems like a dangerous experiment as not all of the blocks are standard Tetris shapes. However, like the best variations on Tetris it encourages the taking of risk and punishes for lack of foresight. The satisfaction of making a 100% match on a puzzle is breathtaking, especially on the later levels which require some real planning! I actually found myself using the 3DS notes feature for the first time.
Few of the games really make much use of the 3D. There is a mode called Fit in which blocks fall away from you and must be matched to gaps below. Climber's cylindrical tower is also pleasantly solid. In general the game is a two-dimensional playfield superimposed over an attractive 3D scene.
There are a few less stellar elements. The Jigsaw game lacks the nuance and mental manipulation of moving and sorting shapes. Not only that but for some reason this mode doesn't appear in 3D. The backgrounds which are normally presented at depth here appear flat. It comes across as a mistake: as though it were ported directly from another game of Tetris and the developer forgot to turn the 3D on. It is elements like this which make Tetris on 3DS occasional feel like a rushed port.
If you have any version of Tetris Party Deluxe then Tetris on 3DS adds little value.
In spite of that, it's nice to have a 3DS game which works so fluidly online. Within moments I was able to get a match against six other worldwide competitors for a truly gripping game of Tetris Battle. It's a pity that Stage Racer only works in local WiFi as I think this would have been a popular choice for online competitiveness.
Ultimately you'll be wanting to know if Tetris on 3DS is worth your time and your money. If you have any version of Tetris Party Deluxe (either as a DS cart or via DSi download) then Tetris on 3DS adds little value. You won't find much more here than that game has already delivered.
However - if, like me, you don't currently have Tetris at all and are looking to get it then I would say that this is the most complete and satisfying collection of Tetris features you are likely to find. Released at a budget price and with lovely high-resolution visuals, this is a great collection and as addictive a challenge as it has ever been.
With so many different perspectives it can be hard to know where to start - a little like walking into a crowded pub. Sorry about that.
But so far we've not found a way to streamline our review output - there's basically too much of it. So, rather than dilute things for newcomers we have decided to live with the hubbub while helping new readers find the columnists they will enjoy.
Our columnists each focus on a particular perspective and fall into one of the following types of gamers: