Platform: Nintendo DS , DSI
Category: 3DS, Puzzle
Developer: Hudson Soft
Local Play - VS/Co-op Mode - 2-8 Players
Download Play - VS/Co-op Play - 2-4 Players
Internet - VS/Co-op Play - 2-8 Players
Is this another Tetris game? How often can they take a classic title and bring it to a new platform while introducing some new game modes? With the 3DS I can imagine the graphics will take on a complete new look, but what can they do to make this puzzle game feel fresh for another generation of gamers? Will Tetris Axis be another re-make flop or will it stand apart and be a must have hand held title?
There is not a whole lot that can be done graphically when it comes to the simplistic gameplay of puzzle blocks falling down from the top of the screen to be placed into position on the bottom; however, what they couldn’t do with the classic puzzle blocks they was dress up the surrounding backgrounds along with the touch screen to bring something else to Tetris. Various themed backgrounds like skyscrapers in the sky, snow covered trees, a black hole, and some other abstract looking backgrounds are all found in Tetris: Axis. Along with each background are animations that go with each theme, like lights flickering throughout the buildings, snow falling from the sky, and your 3DS avatar appearing on the touch screen who dances around and cheers you on as you progress through the game.
Ultimately, what makes this Tetris different from the rest is that it is has been made to use the 3D technology built in the 3DS. When I think of Tetris in 3D what springs to mind is a whole lot different when it comes to the actual game. Imagine being able to move 3D objects around and place the pieces where you need to, seeing every angle possible, and being able to twist objects around to get an even better view. Well, as most of you know the 3DS is all about adding 3D depth and that doesn’t really work all that well when it comes to playing Tetris. Unfortunately, I found it to be more of a distraction than something that added to the graphics of the game. Although it uses the tech well, the title would have been just as fun without the 3D graphics.
Tetris is more about the background music than any other part involving sound in the game. There are thirteen different instrumental songs that you can choose from ranging from the well-known track associated with Tetris: Korobeiniki & Trepek, along with Waltz of the Flowers, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy and Flight of the Bumblebee to name the few. Each song takes on a more electronic version of the original rather than the classical feel often associated with these songs, which resulted in some really great renditions, but unfortunately not all the songs make the cut resulting in an average soundtrack.
There are some sound effects throughout the game, but they really don’t add anything to the game that the background music already hasn’t done. Not that this is a negative thing to say about Tetris: Axis, but sometimes a portion of a game is not needed to make it complete.
Tetris: Axis has a lot of game modes which are broken down into Featured Modes, Party Modes, AR Modes, Local Play, Download Play and finally Online. With all of these modes available one thing doesn’t really change from mode to mode: gameplay.
The puzzle blocks come from above and your job is to put the puzzle blocks into the right position, be it to clear some lines, get a Tetris, or to solve a puzzle by placing the pieces in certain positions. Jumping into any of the Featured Modes of Marathon, Fever, Survival and Computer Battle, your goal is the same throughout, clear the lines so you don’t fail and to collect as many points as possible. Most gamers will easily recognize the classic mode of Marathon and will easily be able to jump in and play the very similar variants throughout the game. Although a bit rusty at first I did dust off my Tetris skills and ended up getting some great scores.
There are nine different party modes, well, more like eleven as I consider the AR Modes to be more of a party option rather than a separate mode. With each of the party modes you get a different way of playing Tetris. For example, with Jigsaw, you are given a picture and using the Tetris pieces you match it up to the picture. On the other hand there is Fit, here you are given a set field of blocks and have to “fit” in Tetris pieces into the puzzle. In the end the gameplay is exactly the same with some different objectives and obstacles thrown into the mix.
AR Modes takes advantage of the 3DS camera and the AR cards that come packaged with your 3DS. In the case of Tetris: Axis, the question block card is the one you need to activate either AR Marathon or AR Climber. The AR Modes are the exact same versions you can play in normal gameplay, but like all AR games you play them in your environments. Keep in mind you need to play in a well-lit area and have the AR Card on a flat surface to get the best out of the AR modes.
Multiplayer is a well-rounded feature that hosts quite a few options that include both local and online flavours. Locally you can play VS Battle, VS Stage Racer, VS Capture, VS Shadow Wide and Co-Op Tower Climber. These five options require that all the players have a Tetris: Axis cartridge where VS Battle, Fever With Everyone, and Marathon With Everyone can be played by one person having the cartridge and up to seven others being able to download the title temporarily to get a chance to play.
Not up for local play, or in my case don’t have enough friends who own this title or a 3DS, well you can easily jump online to play either World Battle or Friend Battle. Friend Battle is the traditional Marathon play where you go head to head with one of your online friends and is the more simple of the gameplay options. World Battle on other hand is against other players around the world where you go head to head as well with the option of using items to enhance, or aggravate in some cases, the gameplay. One such particular item that is quite annoying is where you can switch your gameboard with your opponent making it quite easy to set up your board to near defeat then switch it right over to your opponent to pretty much get an instant win. The part I dislike about this is that it happened to me far too many times and it hampered my desire to enjoy the online component more than I hoped.
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