Tetris 3DS Review


Tetris/Tetris Axis
Developer: Hudson
Publisher: Nintendo
Genre: Puzzle
Platform: Nintendo 3DS(reviewed)
Release: 2/10/11


Throughout my gaming life, I’ve run into Tetris over and over again. Tetris on the GameBoy, Tetris Sphere on the Nintendo 64, click-wheel Tetris on my old iPod, hell even Tetris on an arcade machine in Japan. Needless to say, I, much like many people, am a fan of Tetris. I’m sure everyone knows the story with Tetris. That is, there is no story. It is one of one those games that’s a blank slate for stories, and can have anything applied to it. Tetris is almost all about game mechanics: the alignment and breaking of tetrimino. So, with no delay, let’s set the bricks in motion and hard-drop into the gameplay.


Tetrimino fall into the matrix, twisting and rotating as they drop, making their way down into lines and eventually exploding in a glorious accumulation of points. Tetris for the 3DS is still Tetris. At least to some extent. There are fifteen different game modes within Tetris 3DS, all of which hold the Tetris-essence fans of the game love.

Marathon is probably the first version of many Tetris you’ll encounter when powering up your 3DS. This mode doesn’t deviate from classic modes of Tetris, perhaps with the exception of a hold button and the completion of the game after 150 lines. Hudson has done a terrific job developing the controls for the 3DS however a few things strike me as odd. The delegation of the circle pad to rotate the camera seems a little odd and means that I’ve had to get used to the D-pad yet again. I can understand this choice, as Tetris has seen the use of the D-pad over its many console transitions. That being said, after very few plays of the game the controls delegated by Hudson to this version of Tetris become natural and racing through marathon is no trouble at all. I should note that there is also an augmented reality version of Marathon, and one of the party modes, Climber that use the 3DS AR cards to play Tetris in physical spaces. While it doesn’t add all that much more to the gameplay (except that you can move around the card to get different views) it is an amazing little function, even if just a novelty.

Fever is a little different to the Tetris people are accustomed too. For one, the matrix is much narrower, and there is a time limit of 60 seconds. Not only this, but the way of playing is completely different. Coins are earned within the game, and can be used to purchase items to use in game. More items can also be earned using SpotPass, which sadly I have yet to come across. Items include cascade: filling spaces between blocks, colour change: changing all the colours to the same colour and colour bonus: adding individual checkmarks to colours granting higher scores when cleared. Another feature in this version of Tetris is “colour attack” where all the tetrimino are the same colour, and you are given just a few seconds to clear the matrix for a rather hefty bonus score. While this at times isn’t as challenging as normal Tetris, it’s still an incredible appealing game mode.

Survival doesn’t deviate too far from the original Tetris mechanic, with the exception of rising lines and a narrow matrix. This version provides a perhaps little more of a challenge than Marathon, while staying nearer to the traditional form of Tetris than Fever. If a more traditional approach is up your ally, you can always test your Tetris skills battling the CPU, facing off against 10 different Bomberman style Tetris experts in Computer Battle.

If you thought that Tetris already had a lot of game modes, then you are yet to click on the Party Modes section. With nearly 10 different game modes, there isn’t much point describing them all. If you are a fan of Tetris, and I mean a really hardcore fan, these might come across a little silly, or even completely irrelevant wastes of time. But if you are a little more lenient, then some of these can be fun. I particularly enjoyed Tower Climber, which as you using tetrimino to build steps for a little character to climb. I also found Stage Racer Plus to be a rather interesting idea, which uses tetrimino to emulate a racing track and car. While they all seem to lack the general mechanics of Tetris, they use the restrictions of the game matrix and tetrimino to create some rather innovative new gaming modes, which cannot be overlooked by an owner of the game. Even just testing all these modes out will give you hours of play time, and are worth the time even if just to alter your perception of what can be considered Tetris.

Graphics and Audio

We all know what Tetris looks like, right? Tetrimino are bricks, and there are a variety of different shapes and sizes. Given that this is for the 3DS, there is obviously the option to view the game matrix in 3D. I however, tend not to as I feel like it takes away from the hypnotic zen-like playing of a heated Tetris marathon. While the game graphics have been updated dramatically from the original version of Tetris, this isn’t the only visually redeeming quality. During game play, the matrix board floats over some amazing visualisations that add a little something extra to the game. If that isn’t enough of a graphical boost for you, then check out the bottom screen to watch your Mii dancing around in some ultra (un)fashionable clothing. There is always the option to alter clothing, dancing style and even your Mii. I had a dancing Jesus in a white gown to accompany my Tetris playing. In terms of the audio, there is a re-recording of the original Tetris music floating around, as well as a few other tunes that tend to get on my nerves when playing. It is the typical puzzle or casual game music that accompanies repetitive modes of game play which I tend to always mentally block out, or in extreme cases, literally block out when playing.


All and all, Tetris for the 3DS is not just another brick in the wall. All the modes of play fall together in line, and TETRIS! Some of the newer game modes are a little lame, and don’t warrant repeat plays. However, I am willing to forgive Tetris due to the amazing quality of this 3DS remake. The controls work fantastically, and there has been a real push to integrate all the capabilities of the device into this game, especially in battle modes where some of the attacks require you to blow into the microphone or tilt the device. While the 3D doesn’t add much to the game, the graphical overhaul makes for a sleek playing experience, which is much needed for a game like Tetris. If you are a fan, this is an essential buy. If you haven’t had much luck finding love with Tetris perhaps this, with its plethora of different gaming options, will finally turn you.


I am a current media student with a focus on video game research.

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