Tetris Attack (Super Nintendo) Review

By Adam Riley 02.03.2003

Review for Tetris Attack on Super Nintendo

Many a company, including Nintendo, has tried to emulate the success reaped by Alexey Pazhitnov's Tetris, but ultimately fallen at the first hurdle. But in 1995, Nintendo's 2nd Party company, Intelligent Systems, managed to succeed where others had failed, bringing the Tetris theme kicking and screaming into the 20th Century and producing a high quality, addictive game at the same time. Thus Panel de Pon was born...and later became the Yoshi-themed Tetris Attack on its western release the following year.

"Now lets go play together...Together under the clearest of blue skies." This is what you are greeted with on switching the game on. Yoshi's Island has been over-run by the Tetris Attack bug, and Kamek (along with Bowser and his other cronies) is here to challenge you at every corner. They have cast a spell over the whole island, causing it to rain continuously, and as you progress through the different stages you break the spell in certain areas. And that's it...They basically want an excuse to puzzle-battle against each other! Now that is what I call depth to a story...hehe. Still, I suppose for a puzzle game it's acceptable.

Screenshot for Tetris Attack on Super Nintendo

There is not too much you can do with a puzzle game in terms of graphical quality – but Intelligent Systems borrowed the Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island template and the final result is a beauty of a game. For those of you who haven’t sampled the delights of either SMW2: Yoshi’s Island on the SNES or Super Mario Advance 3: YI on the GBA, a child-like drawing book effect is adopted. By this I mean all the backgrounds and characters have a ‘hand-drawn’ style, which may sound rather simplistic, but is actually carried out with such a high level of professionalism that it is amazingly pleasing on the eye. Colours are vibrant, backgrounds are not simply static (as they are in many other puzzle games) and the characters move around, adding life to the overall experience. One other aspect that should be illustrated is that there is no slowdown at all – not even when you progress to the hardest difficulty settings and blocks are move around like crazy, which is much appreciated because the one thing you don't need is any distractions!

It was maybe five or six years ago when I last played this game, and I’m sure I remember the music being better. It’s just that coming back to it now I find myself thinking that other than one or two stand-out pieces, the majority is pretty sub-standard. The main title theme is the highlight, and do you know why? It’s the same as the one from Yoshi’s Island, that's why! No changes, not even minor ones – it’s purely lifted and placed straight into Tetris Attack. The main menu tune is quite catchy, in a pleasant, bouncy kind of fashion, the sound effects bring a smile to your face (hey, if they didn’t then you have no heart!) and the main Story Mode page’s theme is excellently moving. But then you have the different stage’s music, which ranges from moderately decent homages to Nintendo music-maestro Koji Kondo right through to the bland pap (yes, pap!) that makes you wonder whether the music director had gone off for his tea-break, leaving the cleaner to take the reins by that point. A thoroughly mixed bag overall.

Screenshot for Tetris Attack on Super Nintendo

So, the game has Tetris in the title, therefore various different-shapes must come careering down from the top of the screen, right? Well, to be honest, you’d be wrong to assume that. The 'Tetris' theme is only present in the addictiveness of the game, not the actual play mechanics. First of all the blocks rise up from the bottom of the screen, and the shapes are all square. The squares are different colours, with separate shapes etched onto them (stars, circles, etc) – and it is your job to match-up three or more similar boxes to make them disappear and prevent an untimely 'Game Over'. In order to do this, you must move the on-screen two-block-wide cursor over the blocks you wish to switch…and then do so! Quite simple, don’t you think?

Your aim is to try and remove as many blocks in one move as possible, and this is done by creating 'chains'. Say a section of your blocks look like this:

Yellow Green
Green Purple Purple

Then you would switch the Yellow and Green, forming a vertical line of three Greens. When they ultimately disappear, the Purple block would have nothing under it, causing it to drop to the bottom. And voilá, you’ve created a chain – because there’s a horizontal line of three Purples now! See? I told you it was simple…Just a word of advice though, lines can only be matched in the horizontal and vertical, not diagonally! After you’ve created a chain, a knock-on effect is that extra blocks will drop from the top of your opponents screen, making life for them even more difficult. There is nothing more satisfying than getting a huge long chain and then sitting back, watching as the hoards of extra blocks suffocate your opponents play area…

Screenshot for Tetris Attack on Super Nintendo

There are five main gameplay modes included in Tetris Attack: Endless (where you just keep going until you make an error), Time Trial (where you have a set time to achieve the highest possible score), Stage Clear (where you attempt to keep your blocks under a certain line), Puzzle (where you are given a certain amount of moves in order to clear the entire screen!) and Versus (where you can simply play against computer-controlled opponents).

Then there's the two-player mode. Bored of toying with the computer AI? Then why not inflict some pain and anguish on your friends instead? 'Tis always fun to watch people squirm, after all...hehe. If you thought the one-player sections were addictive, then you will be over-awed by this. Literally hours and hours of your life will be sapped away by the competitive nature the game will bring out in you.

So how long will this game last? Think about it this way: I've had the game since its launch nearly nine years ago, and I am still not tired of it. After coming back to it now, it is definitely just as fresh as it was all those years ago.

Screenshot for Tetris Attack on Super Nintendo

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

It may not be exactly like Tetris, but it is similar in the fact that you will become addicted to it almost instantaneously, always striving to get...that...little...bit...further! Tetris Attack is a true testament to the extreme talent that can be found at Intelligent Systems. Praise be to Nintendo for milking this game as much as possible, in order to make sure we all have a chance to at least play one of its iterations...

Also known as

Panel de Pon


Intelligent Systems







C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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