It seems Nintendo have given all 3DS users an early Christmas present this year by releasing onto the eShop the game that sold a million and more of the original Game Boy. Released way back in 1990, Tetris, the oft-imitated block stacking puzzler, was the game that encouraged people all over the world to join the handheld revolution by purchasing the grey brick that was the Game Boy.
So for those who never had the console, are too young to remember it or, like me, have a Game Boy that’s showing its age and suffering from a few screen issues, here is the chance to grab a downloadable copy of the game that started it off.
But the question we really need to ask is – why? Over the past few years we’ve had the excellent multi-mode Tetris DS, crammed full of features, graphics, and internet play, plus the new ‘Tetris Party Live’, also available from the 3DS eShop for just ninety pence more, as well as many other releases. So why spend £3.60 on a monochrome version with just two modes and no multiplayer, never mind internet play?
(Multiplayer has been removed from the original because it used to be done through a cable connecting two Game Boys, which obviously is no longer possible on the 3DS).
Well there are two mains reasons. Firstly, there is nostalgia. Though I love Tetris DS and have played that for hours on end, it never truly captured the magic of the original due to one thing: the music. This Game Boy original has all that classic music that really compliments the game. Plus, I have great memories of a simpler time when, as a young kid, my parents and I would take turns on the game to see who could get the highest score.
Secondly, it’s because the 1990 version is the classic, difficult Tetris. There’s none of the gameplay bits thrown in over the last twenty-one years to make things simple. There’s no ghost piece; no continuous spinning of blocks; no hold piece. Just you, the grid, lots of falling shapes and your ability to restore order to the chaos.
It’s refreshing to play the original version of Tetris as, though the lack of menus of multiple options, extra modes and credit screens might sound bad, it means you can get to the game without going through loads of clutter.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Tetris, all two of you, the game is you presented with an empty grid into which four blocked shapes of various types start falling, which you can move, spin and land, with the aim to connect them up to form a continuous line across the grid. If you complete a line it disappears and you get points. You then get more points for removing two, three or four lines at a time. Lose control and fill up the grid and you lose and are presented with the game over screen. It’s as simple as that.
There are, though, various tweaks you can make. You can select ‘A’ type which is basically the empty grid and you just keep on going until you fail, the game going up a level for every ten lines removed, with the pieces dropping faster. You can choose, also, to start from any of the first ten levels. There is also ‘B’ type which presents you with not only the same ten starting speed levels, but one of six ‘high’ levels which starts the grid with a number of levels of randomly placed blocks that make it more challenging as you have less grid to start with and to truly restore order you need to get rid of them by including them in the lines across the grid.
Aside from that you can pick one of three catchy 8-bit ditties to play along to and also switch on and off the preview piece as you want, which shows the next falling Tetris block, or Tetromino as it’s known in the business.
At the end of the game you can type in your name and enjoy your high score before jumping back into another game. This game is also so basic there’s no way to actually exit a game when you’re playing it unless you commit Tetris suicide, return to the 3DS home menu or switch the console off.
So that’s Tetris from the old Game Boy. There’s no colour, no massive additions of modes, no options menu to customise, no properly orchestrated music, no ghost piece, no spinning, no tagged-on 3D effect, no multiplayer and no internet play. If you want all those then it will cost you just an extra ninety pence to get the more modern version.
However, if you just want a raw, stripped back addictive and difficult version of Tetris with the most iconic music around and no added features to make your life a little bit easier then this is for you.
There is, though, one good improvement of this version over the old Game Boy one and it is that, although Nintendo haven’t implemented a save feature in it, the ability to create a restore point in game means you can finally save the high scores on the table. No more losing all the scores when the console is switched off. Result!
It’s not the most feature-packed Tetris game by a long shot – that still goes to the fantastic Tetris DS – but for some retro fun that is so addictive it should carry a health warning and tricky with it, I really recommend this Classic.
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