Tetris is a game that needs no introduction. Over the past 26 years, the game has entertained, and entranced the entire world, crossing both gender and age boundaries like none that came before it. Having sold over 100 million copies on mobile phones alone, you'd be hard pushed to find someone who doesn't, at the very least, know what Tetris is about - yet alone someone who hasn't heard of it.
And such is the popularity of Tetris, that when a version of it was first released on the DS - the inventively named Tetris DS, the game was instantly a huge hit, and sold out in many places. Having sold over 2.05m copies worldwide in June of 2007, the game is one the DS' best selling titles - and as Nintendo, in their infinite wisdom, decided not to produce a second batch of the games, it's also one of the rarest, with copies going for over $120 in the US, and starting at around £25 over here, if you can find one new.
So, for people looking for a Tetris fix, or for those who just want more, it'll come as a relief to hear that another Tetris game is incoming on both the DS and Wii - and it's already looking like the best Tetris game yet.
If you're familiar with the WiiWare game Tetris Party, you'll find a lot of similar ground here, as this is the disk based release of the download - only with three additional modes (called Sprint, Master, and Bombliss - we'll come to these later), and four expanded from the original. It's also the game's first time on the DS.
One of the most common problems with Tetris is games is that, rather than sticking to the formula of what makes Tetris good, the developer almost seems to worry that they'll be criticised for rehashing the game, and insist on putting their mark on it. In doing so, we end up with modes as confusing and contrived as "Catch" mode on the DS - which, believe it or not, is still quite a way off the worst modes ever added to a Tetris game.
Luckily for Tetris Party Deluxe, however, there's no such mistakes being made here. Along with the standard Marathon mode, which sees you trying to clear lines over 15 levels of play, and COM Battle, which is an immensely frustrating battle mode against an AI opponent, the new modes for Tetris Party all mesh perfectly with the basic Tetris formula, and provide a refreshing break from the standard Marathon slog.
One of the wierder new modes is known as Stage Racer - an initially confusing concept, that sees you trying to slide your tetromino through a narrow course. You'll have to rotate it through the gaps as you go, whilst racing against either the clock, or three other players in multiplayer.
Reversing the concept almost entirely is Field Climber, which sees you building a tower out of tetrominos, that a little stick man climbs up. While it may sound like a mode that rewards people for simply being rubbish, and not being able to clear lines (like us), there's actually a lot more to it - your stick man can only climb up one block at a time, so it'll take careful planning to create a route he can actually ascend - and if you put too many blocks down at once, you might even crush him!
Adding an almost Picross style game to the package is Shadow mode, which sees you struggling to create a certain shape using your Tetronimos - basically blocking out a silhouette with Tetris pieces. And while it might sound impossible, it's a pretty good idea for a new mini-game - even it has been half-inched from Lumines.
The three new modes - Bombliss, Sprint and Master are, unfortunately, if anything, the most uninventive modes in the whole package. Sprint mode challenges you with clearing 40 lines as quickly as possible, whilst Master mode begins with the blocks falling at an already increased pace - meaning it really is one for the masters, or sadists. Bombliss, meanwhile, seems a rather confusing mode, which adds random "bomb blocks" to the Tetrominos. Clear a line, and you'll set off a chain reaction, with the idea being to clear the entire screen in one go.
Fans of multiplayer action are also well catered for here, with inclusion of a variety of competitive multiplayer modes, and even co-op! Letting two players play on an extended grid, you and a friend can team up, on both the DS and Wii to clear as many lines as possible. Or, you can take on up to 8 players on the DS, or 6 players on the Wii (depending on the mode), across special multiplayer oriented versions of Shadow, Stage Racer, Field Climber, and Marathon modes - with a few multiplayer specific modes added in for good measure!
With more modes than we have fingers, Tetris Party Deluxe is bursting with features - no matter which platform you go for. At the moment, the only slightly disappointing thing is the fact we've still got no UK or European release date. While those across the pond will be getting their Tetris fix towards the end of June, in the UK, it looks like we'll be left waiting for a little while longer - although we'll be sure to bring you news of the official release date as soon as we get.