These days, you can play “Tetris” pretty much anywhere.
Cell phones, calculators, Facebook, iPods … and of course video game systems.
So why play it again with “Tetris Party” on the Wii?
As the name implies, “Tetris Party” has a fairly major focus on multiplayer. Most of the local multiplayer games (the real meat of this package) can be played with up to four players, and there are a couple of online modes for two to six competitors.
That’s not to say that the game can’t still be enjoyed alone. The typical “Tetris” formula is alive and very well here, and can be just as addicting as ever.
But multiplayer isn’t exactly new to the series anyway, so the question remains: Why should you buy this new game?
While straight-up, classic “Tetris” can certainly be found (and thoroughly enjoyed) here, the developers at Hudson have managed to breathe some degree of life into the game by adding brand new modes that shake up the known formula.
“Field Climber,” for example is a game in which there is a tiny character on screen that will climb onto blocks as you place them. Your goal is to keep building upwards in order to get him to the finish line.
Or “Shadow Mode,” which challenges you to place blocks that match the shadow of a particular shape in the background of the playing field, going outside the lines as little as possible.
“Co-op Tetris” is exactly what it sounds like: cooperative “Tetris” with a buddy. The playing field is twice as wide as normal, and both players are placing their own pieces. Succeeding in this mode requires a lot of coordination and cooperation.
If you’d rather crush your friends rather than work together with them, there are modes such as “Duel Spaces,” which ask you to claim space on a grid by fencing in areas.
But one of the most mind-boggling new modes requires an extra piece of Wii hardware, and it’s one you may not expect: The Wii Balance Board.
Yes, the crazy board that came with Wii Fit that a lot of you probably do push-ups and yoga on.
Yes, you can play Tetris with that thing.
“Balance Board Mode” is both crazy and ingenious. The controls are simple. Lean left to move your block left. Learn right to move it right. Squat to rotate the piece (seriously), and lean back to move it into place quicker.
This mode is made more physically possible by changing up the playing field (shrinking it a little) as well as changing up the blocks (making them bigger and much simpler). But it can still be a challenging mode – especially for more wobbly players – and serves as an interesting diversion if nothing else.
While not extremely important in the grand scheme of things, “Tetris Party” is visually appealing in style, with a clean interface and slick visuals.
The game also allows players to use their customized “Miis” stored on the Wii system, adding a nice, personal flair to player profiles in a style that fits in well with the rest of the game.
The game is slightly harder to recommend to people if you don’t have friends to play it with – as stated, “Tetris” can be found just about anywhere – but if you do plan to play it alone, there’s still a lot of enjoyment to be had.
The single-player modes are entertaining, and some of the competitive games can be played against computer opponents. And heck, classic “Tetris” is just as addicting as ever, so of course you can enjoy it by yourself.
As far as the online component goes, it’s solid. There aren’t nearly as many gameplay options as there are for local play, which is a shame, but there’s still enough content to have fun with, including occasional tournaments.
There’s also a lot of stat-tracking data to be found in the menus, allowing you to gauge yourself against other players worldwide.
All in all, while it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, “Tetris Party” does make a far better effort to make things fresh than other iterations in the series over the recent years. With fun new modes and very solid multiplayer – as well as a budget, $12 price, it being a downloadable game and all – “Tetris Party” is an extremely solid package in its own right, and easy to recommend puzzling game fans.
“Tetris Party” is available now exclusively for download on the Nintendo Wii.