The meat of Tetris is to be found in the ‘Featured Modes’ section, where players can choose from ‘Marathon’ (clear as many lines as possible, endlessly, or get the best time trying to clear 150 lines), ‘Computer Battle’ (with ten consecutive opponents, clearing lines to fill up their side more), ‘Fever’ (clear as many lines as possible in sixty seconds in a narrow playing field, whilst using special items when available), and ‘Survival’ (keep clearing rows of Tetriminos in a tight area, with extra lines building up from the bottom of the screen to increase the heat). Basically they are simple variations on the general format of carefully guiding the different Tetrimino shapes that appear at the top of the screen downwards to their final resting place with the allotted on-screen grid space, attempting to completely fill rows in order to then clear them.
For the benefit of those who have somehow missed out on Tetris over the years, there is the ability to ‘hold’ a specific shape if it appears to potentially be of detriment to the brick building taking place at the bottom of the playing field. The key to racking up high scores is to aim for getting a ‘Tetris,’ which involves clearing four lines in one go. However, instead of making Tetris on 3DS a short-lived experience for those with other versions of the game, such as Nintendo’s masterful Tetris DS, Hudson has included ‘Party Modes’ in addition to the standard Featured Modes.
It is here that the game really shines. Whilst aurally Tetris for 3DS is lacking, and visually it is merely on par with other versions, the thought that has gone into the Party versions of Tetris is very impressive and considerably extends the longevity of the whole package. In ‘Jigsaw’ the objective is to mirror the image on the top screen by piecing together the chunks that appear from above carefully within the time limit, which is tougher than it sounds when trying to quickly assess what sector the tile comes from and then slot into the exact right spot. Equally taxing, yet highly rewarding, is ‘Shadow Wide,’ where a silhouette of an object is provided, and it must be filled with whatever Tetriminos are thrown your way, all without leaving parts of blocks sticking out from the object’s shadow. Every time a block is placed outside of the shadowed area, time is deducted.
‘Fit’ is certainly one of the most creative and impressive, as well as a style of play that benefits from having the 3D Slider pushed all the way on. From inside the screen a block containing some holes will emerge, and begin to slowly move towards you. It is your duty to swiftly rotate and shoot into the necessary gaps. ‘Tower Climber’ is another addictive take on the theory of Tetris, although the connection here is tenuous, to say the least. All that is required is to ensure the small man at the bottom of the tower can gradually climb to the top by walking up staggered Tetrimino blocks, all the while being directed towards hearts to replenish the energy lost during the climb. ‘Bombliss Plus’ plays like normal Tetris, yet with small bombs blowing up rows, ‘Stage Racer Plus’ has the gamer race through courses navigating different Tetrimino shapes around all sorts of block-related obstacles before reaching the end goal, and ‘Capture’ is based on trapping stars with corresponding coloured blocks, or attributing a colour to white stars and then following up again with a same-coloured brick to ‘trap’ it.
Something brand new to the Tetris fold is the chance to take advantage of the Nintendo 3DS Augmented Reality features. If you dust down the underused Question Mark AR Card that came free with the 3DS at launch, it can be used to play both AR Marathon and AR Climber, both of which are the same as their standard in-game versions, with the exception of the background now actually being whatever surrounding you are in, and the fact that the difficulty is automatically increased by the sheer amount of movement required as the playing field slightly changes position and the 3DS must be moved accordingly so that the external cameras do not lose sight of the AR Card.
With five local wireless multiplayer modes, three ‘Download Play’ games to try with friends that do not own Tetris for 3DS, both of which can be played with up to seven friends, as well as the World Battle and Friend Battle online options, Tetris for Nintendo 3DS has more than enough to keep any puzzle fan addicted for months to come. Be sure to also turn on the SpotPass function to grab new items for use in the ‘Fever’ mode.