Tetris DX
Platform:  Game Boy Color
Players:  1-2 (when linked)

    It's hard to think of a world without Tetris.  Or I should say it's hard to think of handheld gaming being what it is today without Tetris.  Love it or hate it, Tetris allowed Nintendo's Gameboy to blossom into a force that would sustain the big N through their dark times and hardware transitions.  Gunpei Yokoi's simple yet powerful handheld was in the hands of millions and part of the fast adaptation of the Gameboy was due to Tetris, originally designed by Alexey Pazhitnov in 1985.  For the fourth version of the Gameboy and the first to feature a color screen (also of note the first Gameboy handheld to be released after Gunpei Yokoi resigned from Nintendo) a true followup to the original Gameboy Tetris was created - Tetris DX.  Thankfully it stuck to the tried and true formula of the original while adding color to the graphics and a few new modes.

Description:  Tetris, one of the most simple yet complex games in term of design.  Arrange falling blocks into a solid stack.  Every time a line is made from left to right it disappears.  Points are awarded both for how many lines are completed at once as well as how fast blocks are dropped.  Tetris DX not only adds full color graphics over the previous Gameboy Tetris but offers additional modes.  Marathon is standard traditional Tetris.  Ultra gives you three minutes to accumulate as high a score as possible.  40 Lines is just that, a sprint to complete 40 lines as fast as possible.  Last is the traditional Vs. mode except now you can play against a Computer opponent if you don't have a friend with a Gameboy, link cable, and another copy of the game at hand.  Additionally a backup battery on board means that your high scores and times are recorded and saved.  The data for up to three people can be retained via a registration screen.  Data can also be exchanged between copies of Tetris DX via the link cable.

Graphics:  Well it's still Tetris so there's not a huge graphical change.  Everything is in color, the menus are nicely colored and detailed, and everything is nice and familiar looking.  The backdrop behind the gameplay space and status screens has a slow checkerboard effect scroll by which reacts when lines are completed, a nice touch.  In Marathon mode, completing every 50 lines causes the background color of the playfield to change.  There are some nice little animations that play upon achieving high performance in each mode that have to do with rocket launches and fireworks displays.  The cartridge can be played in a standard Gameboy or Gameboy Pocket and the colors are changed to display in monochrome as they did with the original Tetris Gameboy release.

Sound:  The original Tetris tunes from the Gameboy and NES releases have been thrown out for Tetris DX.  This is great news to me as I never cared for the Nintendo musical score and enjoyed the "Bradinski" tune of the Atari Games arcade version and Tengen NES port more.  The new music is great, especially the B-Type song which has some great transition effects if the stack gets up near the top.  All the normal Tetris sound effects are back to round out the audio and make for a solid sound package.

Play Control:  Thankfully control is untouched and perfect.  Block physics react fast and accurately to control input, something that would become a problem in Tetris titles of the future.  Navigating the game menus and starting up the different modes is a breeze with name registration and statistics easy to manage.

Replay:  It's Tetris, you can play forever.  Marathon mode holds up as it always has and the Ultra and 40 Lines modes provide a nice alternative for a quick session.  The Vs. Com mode doesn't hold up all that well but it's decent when using the two player Vs. mode isn't an option.  The humorous different endings will keep some expert players trying to get a low score every now and then yet give the inexperienced player a nice progression to shoot for.

Final Verdict:  If there's one thing I can say about this game it's that it replaces the original Gameboy Tetris in every way.  That alone should tell anyone that it is the must own title of the Gameboy Color library.  Even if all you had was a standard original Gameboy or Gameboy Pocket, this game still replaces the original Gameboy Tetris.  It is still the best portable Tetris game to date and one of the best Tetris games ever created for any platform.  Unless The Next Tetris ever gets ported to a handheld platform, that distinction will remain.  It's a shame it's not compatible with the new Gameboy Advance Micro units or the Nintendo DS - just another reason to keep your Gameboy Color or that afterburner modded GBA.  Yet strangely enough the only reason I bought a copy of Tetris DX is because one ended up coming through the stock channels at a former employer a year after the GBA release, and was marked down to $2.44 which prompted me to buy it.  In my defense, back then I had way too many games to play and far too little time to play them.

Written on 03-09-06 by David, insanedavid@classicplastic.net

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