Tetris DS Review


Now this is one game where I would readily slap you over the face with a frozen fish if you needed an introduction. We’re talking Tetris here; the one and only; the greatest puzzler of all time. Many of us can still remember experiencing the Russian revolution for the first time on our game boys many a year ago, hypnotised by it’s simply addictive gameplay and insane rhythmic theme music.

Now after many years since, and just as many ups and lows for the series, comes Tetris DS. In recent times Tetris games have lost their style and finesse, relying on cheap and often gimmicky ideas to garner any sort of success, and many a gamer has relinquished the series as well and truly dead. Tetris DS seeks to take the series back to it’s roots with classic gameplay and a few new twists with familiar Nintendo characters in an attempt to rekindle the nostalgic spark Tetris fans know and love. I’m telling you know, what we see here is much more like fireworks.


Explaining the basics of how Tetris works always seems to pain me, as you should know if you intend to consider yourself a gamer of any sort. Tetris is a classic puzzler, where the aim of the game is to clear rows of blocks on the screen using six different types of blocks each made of four smaller pieces, hence the name Tetris from tetra, meaning four.

More points can be earned by clearing more lines at once with the highest number possible to clear at one time being four, a feat which is called a Tetris. As the game progresses new blocks begin to fall at faster rates and the player must learn how to skilfully tessellate the different shapes together and to do it quickly before blocks can fill the screen to avoid game over.

It’s a simple concept, but one that can exert a hypnotic force on a captivated players for hours on end thanks to its sheer simplicity and brilliance. As much as we all love classic Tetris, we all know that for the DS version to be successful we’d need to see a little more than classic Tetris, which to be honest could be played built in on the original Gameboy.

Thankfully, the developers have gone one step better; well five actually to be specific. There are now a total of six gameplay modes including the original, three of which can be played in wireless multiplayer and two online. The good thing is these modes are far from annoying gimmicks as seen in earlier less spectacular versions of the game.

The first of which is Push mode, in a way a take on Tetris with reverse tug-o-war. It is versus only mode where two competing players clear lines in order to force their opponents back past a certain line, with clearing more lines at once forcing our opponent further back.

The mode can be played against the CPU, over wireless, or through the Nintendo Wi-Fi Connection. The next mode is catch. Themed around Metroid, players control the movement of small cluster of Tetris blocks, which begins as a 2×2 cube by moving it in all directions around the screen. The aim of the mode is to score points by positioning the cluster under fallen Tetris blocks in an attempt to make a 4×4 cube shape, while also avoiding falling Metroids.

When this is complete, the player has a limited amount of time to attach more blocks to give the shaped more layers and gain more points before the cluster explodes and any unused tetriminoes are pulled to the middle to form a new cluster.

Metroids can also be destroyed by capturing them in explosions to earn more points. The game continually until the player runs out of energy, which is represented in a bar at the bottom of the screen. Energy is lost when the cluster makes contact with a Metroid, which becomes more common as the size of the cluster grows.

A mode with a newer principle, in that it uses the touch screen is next up. Conveniently named “touch,” the objective here is for players to use their stylus to touch and drag stacked tetriminos to make them fall in place to clear lines. They are much larger than the blocks in the regular game modes, so this is an easy concept to grasp. The aim is for players to clear away blocks from the tower of tetriminoes in order to bring a cage resting on it’s top to the ground. While sometimes being a little more fidgety and perhaps a bit more gimmicky than other modes, players will still have good fun.

The remaining two modes are classic Tetris, albeit with a spin on each one. In puzzle mode players are given a number of pieces and they must select the order in which to use them to clear all tetriminoes on the screen. An expansive number of puzzles are available for play ranging from simple to difficult levels of gameplay to test even the most hardened Tetris player.

The final mode is called “mission,” and as you may have already guessed, the name of the game is to complete whatever objectives are set for the player. Sometimes this will involve clearing a set number of lines at once, or doing it in a certain way in order to advance, with players receiving a penalty of additional grey blocks appearing on the bottom of the screen. Otherwise, it’s straight Tetris all the way. All in all, the variation of play styles present in Tetris DS is nothing short of exceptional, delivering spades of both quality and quantity, so much so that you’ll be able to bury yourself in Tetris with ease. Graphics Now, this is honestly a section that is difficult to review.

Tetris has never been a series that relied heavily on visuals. To be honest, these graphics could have been possible on GBA, but that’s really beside the point. The game was designed with a retro look in mind, even adding backgrounds from old Nintendo games to the screen not being used for play. While not being visually astounding, they bring back that little bit of nostalgia, which we all associate with games like Tetris and older Nintendo titles. In short, you won’t be left wanting any more. The visuals are crisp and colourful and that’s really all you need.

The game looks nice. Maybe not great, but nice. And truthfully that’s all anyone can really ask of Tetris. Sound One of the nice things about the game is that its gameplay is always accompanied by a classic rendition of a tune from an old Nintendo game. Like the graphics, they prove to be nostalgic, and for the greater part of the time, rather catchy and supportive to the style of play. One thing that fans may find to be a disappointment is the lack of original Tetris themes.

They are actually quite rare in the game, and it’s an honest shame that some of those smashing Russian beats weren’t included in this version of the game. Other than that though, the sound quality is more than ample and most players, Nintendo fans or not, will fall in love with the music.


Tetris DS is filled to the brim with content. Coupled with the expansive single player experience is the presence of a superb online, and wireless multiplayer experience. Tetris would be worth the replay value with the classic gameplay included alone without all the extra modes and functionality. Online match-ups are quick and easy allowing up to four players to battle it out at one time.

Over wireless there are even more options with up to 10-player compatibility through DS download play. Whether you play alone or with friends, Tetris DS is one of the best “bang for your buck” games available on the Nintendo DS system.

Final thoughts

There’s simply no denying it. This is truly a classic and a definite must-have for anyone who owns a DS. It’s everyone’s favourite game packed with all new modes and extras. Truly a joy to play, Tetris DS goes the distance in going becoming an obsession above a game. It’s the puzzler that has proved to us yet again that gameplay is something that can weather the time between gaming generations and never grow old.

Graphics 8.0

Gameplay 9.9

Sound 9.0

Tilt 9.9

Value 9.9

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Dale Neville

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