Tetris Axis Playtest: More Falling Tetrominoes

By Jenni . October 30, 2011 . 1:15pm

Tetris Axis is a fairly standard Tetris game. Almost every mode has randomly falling tetrominos for player to arrange in lines. No surprise there, that’s the soul of Tetris. A Tetris game with only single player, versus, and online modes would probably make people feel a little ripped off for $29.99, Hudson also included nine modes from the Tetris Party Deluxe plus more multiplayer options


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The featured mode section is the one everyone is going to rely on and continually visit. This is where Tetris Axis has stowed the classic and basic Tetris modes we now and love. Marathon is endless Tetris. You form as many lines as possible for as long as possible to get an incredible score. There’s also a Computer Battle, where you play against an imaginary Bomberman-style opponents. Survival forces players to form lines in a narrower playing field than usual as blocks rise from above and and additional lines coming up from below. Fever is essentially an offshoot of Survival mode, only players only have one minute to make as many lines as you possibly can to unlock items and coins to use in the game and share with other people through SpotPass. There’s a reason both the Marathon and Fever modes are immediately accessible from the opening menu, after all. This section is solid, dependable and consistently fun.


Then, there’s the Party Modes section, which is filled with variations on block dropping. They’re all somehow loosely related and pretty varied, but all still manage to fall nicely into the puzzle genre. Jigsaw is self-explanatory, a jigsaw puzzle. You see an image on the bottom screen and must recreate it on the top screen with the falling blocks. Shadow Wide is somewhat related to that, only you have a shadow of an object on the bottom screen and must arrange tetrominoes to fill it with little to no overlap. Shadow Wide was definitely my favorite out of all the Party Modes, as it is a lot like playing regular Tetris, except you really have to pay attention to which blocks are coming up and how you arrange them.


There are also Party Mode games where the focus is on clearing either blocks or lines. Capture puts stars on each level. If you want to win, you have to cover it with the same colored tetromino on both sides of the matrix to clear it. Bombliss Plus is a bit like regular Tetris, only there are bombs in the tetrominoes and you have to use them to help you clear the screen. If you choose Sprint, you have to make 40 lines as quickly as possible. Finally, there’s Master Mode, which essentially Marathon mode only the game starts at the highest speed possible. These four modes are pretty average, though Capture can get pretty interesting.


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Finally, Party Mode has three modes that involve moving around as quickly as possible. Fit has a series of blocks with an outline that one or a few tetrominos could fit into. You have to quickly arrange them so they drop properly into place. Stage Racer Plus is actually an odd kind of racing puzzle game, where a specific kind of tetromino is assigned to you at the beginning of the level and you have to navigate it through tight spaces to reach the goal without falling behind. Tower Climber is the last mode and it’s more about action than anything. There’s a circular tower with a man at the bottom. Players have to drop the random tetrominoes to build a staircase for him to climb so he can reach the top. Hearts must also be collected along the way to keep him alive. While these three modes are probably the most unexpected, they were also among my favorites in Tetris Axis, with Tower Climber and Stage Racer Plus probably being my second and third favorite modes in this section.


Just remember to pay attention to the Options menu in the Party Modes section. For modes like Shadow Fit, Tower Climber, Stage Racer Plus and Jigsaw it’s somewhat necessary since you can skip to the last level you left off on. None of these stages are random and actually do have some progression, though in Tower Climber it’s more about a difficulty level. It’s especially important for Shadow Wide, since the option menu there actually lets you make five of your own puzzles.


Then, there are Tetris Axis‘ AR Modes. If you get this game, just pretend this section doesn’t exist. It’s a pure gimmick. Okay, maybe play it once so you can see why I’m telling you to ignore it, then go ahead and ignore it for real. It includes versions of Climber and Marathon that require you to stand up, be about 30 inches away from a surface with the AR card and then keep shuffling in a circle to play through either mode. (Don’t try to cheat by just moving the card! It doesn’t work that well.) So it’s just like you’re playing normal Tetris or Climber, just you have to keep moving in a circle repeatedly as you do it. It doesn’t even look all that cool, so just think of it as an interesting addition and keep moving.


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Hudson did a good job of leaving a lot of multiplayer options open. Up to eight people can join together for a match over either the local connection or WiFi. The thing is, local multiplayer really wins out. It has access to Co-op Tower Climber, VS Battle, VS Capture, VS Shadow Wide and VS Stage Racer if everyone has a copy of Tetris Axis and VS Battle, Fever with Everyone and Marathon with Everyone if only one person has the Tetris Axis cartridge. If you play online, you can only choose between going into a Battle with someone on your friends list or a World Battle with random people online. That’s not even getting into the perils of the actually playing online.


The online multiplayer is quite problematic in Tetris Axis. There’s about a 50/50 chance you’ll have a good match with no connection errors or glitches. I actually kept track of what happened for my 20 matches. For 12 of these matches, everything was fine. I didn’t get disconnected, the game went through fine and no errors came up. Four of these matches had connection issues before the match even started, saying there was an error and booting me from the match. Three of these matches had errors after the match was completed, right when the the whole winners and losers screen would appear. Finally, there was one fateful match which actually made the entire 3DS freeze up. I was playing as usual and in the middle of a match with three other players when everything just kind of stopped and froze. I tried pressing the home button, with no help. I tried pressing other random buttons in the hope it would do something. I even tried turning the Wi-Fi on and off. Finally, I just had to completely turn off the 3DS itself so I could actually start playing again.


For standard Tetris and local multiplayer, Tetris Axis does everything anyone would expect it to do. The classic game modes are in there and some of the party puzzle modes are actually really good as well. I’d say it’s a pretty good value. I mean, you can never go wrong with basic forms of Tetris and considering how many additional modes there are, there should be at least two or three that will interest you. I figured I’d only be playing the Featured Modes, but I ended up really getting into Shadow Wide, Capture and Stage Racer Plus.


Food for Thought

  • You can change the clothes your Mii is wearing and the dance he/she is doing in the options menu. (I opted for the kitty ears.)
  • Only the directional pad is used to move the tetrominoes.
  • The 3D effect isn’t awesome or epic. If anything, I’d leave it off because I had a harder time concentrating on the puzzles if they were in 3D.
  • I didn’t get any SpotPass for Tetris Axis, so I couldn’t tell you how it worked.
  • The hold feature does return, so you can add a bit of strategy to your playing in some modes.
  • Trying to trigger items that involve blowing is murder! I was blowing where the mic is (near the Start button), but it still seemed like nothing would happen sometimes..
  • As is common with Tetris games now, there are online leaderboards and you can check your personal best records.
  • When you press back from an options screen, you’re taken to the mode menu and not just the submenu of the section you were just in.

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