You think you know Tetris
. At this point, there aren't many people that haven't at least tried the game in some form over the years. The difference in Tetris Party
is that it takes full advantage of the Wii and its accessories, builds in online play, and offers new styles of play than we've seen before. Online play is a cool feature, above and beyond simply having multiplayer. Playing online means that if not everyone in your house, apartment, or dorm is a crazed Tetris
head, you'll be able to connect via Wi-Fi and find a opponent from anywhere in the world, or play with the group of people that have registered you with a Wii Friend Code. Up to six players can get in on the action, with options to play using special items that will in some cases benefit you and in other cases damage your opponents' chances of winning. Items like Speed Up are fairly straightforward and advance the clock more quickly for your opponents than you, making their blocks fall faster. More unusual items like Lock prevent other players from rotating their blocks, a killer move in higher levels when the blocks are dropping fast and precision placement is so important. About 10 items can be stored and used by pointing at the screen with your Wii-mote. Coordinating item use with the regular block-dropping action is tricky, and if your friends find items annoying, they can be turned off during VS Battle mode.
Playing at home against the folks your living room or solo is equally engaging with Tetris Party. The new players have a simplified mode that uses big blocks and a small field of play, perfect for younger gamers also. Marathon Mode is the style of play that we grew up on, transferred largely unchanged to this platform. If you can't get anyone to play against you and still want the challenge of an opponent, using Computer Battle will simulate a heated contest. A bit too heated, if you ask me, but more on that later... New modes that appear here include Field Climber, Shadow, and Stage Racer. The last is a mode that plays like one part racing, one part Monkey Ball, and one part traditional Tetris. You still have a falling block, but instead of stacking it, you are trying to move it through a maze by sliding and transforming the block as you would in placing it normally. Shadow will be a breeze for skilled Tetris players; in this mode, you strategically place blocks to fill a shadowed area. As blocks fall, they change color and complete a picture. This is a fun mode, but completely unforgiving since you can't fix errors. Field Climber has you placing blocks so that a little character starting at the bottom is able to ascend to the top of the field. It's a weird concept, but it somehow works.
The final modes for play are purely about multiplayer, Co-op and Duel Spaces. Co-op is a neat twist on the classic formula, since the obvious first interpretation of Tetris as a multiplayer experience is competitive. Using a large board, you work in the Co-op version of the game to clear lines as you normally would. The Duel Spaces mode may be the most interesting included, a combination of Go and Tetris. Drop your blocks as usual, then claim the space inside the shapes defined by your block structures, as you would consider "territory" counting for points in Go. Forming shapes in Tetris isn't at all intuitive at first, since your normal mindset is to fill up any open space. All this variety is most likely what will keep players coming back to Tetris Party.