If a bunch of bored scholars ever got together to try and determine what games would be included in a theoretical canon, Tetris would doubtlessly be included. It pops up constantly on console after console and is almost always guaranteed to offer a disturbing amount of hours worth of hypnotic enjoyment. Tetris Party Live, the new DSiWare title from Tetris Online Inc., does nothing to taint the title’s high quality history. It doesn’t have all of the options found in higher priced versions of Tetris, but it provides fun online play and a skill-polishing single player mode at a very agreeable price.
The basic gameplay in Tetris Party Live is easy to explain, seeing as Tetris has basically done the same thing since its inception. Blocks, or Tetronimos, if you want to get technical, fall, and it’s up to you to form horizontal lines from these mysterious falling objects. Some advancements made in the art of Tetris over the years have been utilized, such as the ability to hold pieces, see what blocks are coming up, and see a ghost piece for added precision. Though not all of these features are optional, some purists may be glad to know that the ghost piece can be disabled.
As constant as the base of Tetris is, however, the main attraction in Tetris Party Live is the online multiplayer. In the standard battle mode, it works extremely well. Matches are fairly easy to find, provided you steer clear of searching by region, and in the event that you’re too impatient to wait for a four-player match to materialize, you’re given the option to stop waiting and start the game once two players are present. Once the games get going, it runs well, too, with the ensuing garbage block massacres running quickly and with no noticeable slowdown.
The strange Dual Spaces mode, however, is a bit of a different story. There’s nothing wrong with it, and it was fun to see how much unnecessary space one Tetronimo can be made to occupy. However, the fact that it just isn’t as good as the standard version of Tetris really hurts it. It seems unreasonable to sit and wait over 15 minutes to find a match on Dual Spaces when a superior game that’s packed with players is just a button’s press away.
As for graphics and sound, Tetris Party Live manages to offer exactly what one might want or expect from it. The Tetris pieces appear in all of their brightly colored glory against several backgrounds, including Russia, computerized grids, and, most inexplicably, an erupting volcano. Past these things, there’s nothing much to say about the visuals, since Tetris isn’t exactly a game loaded with special effects, regardless of what version you happen to be playing. As far as Tetris goes, though, this game is nice looking and provides precisely the visuals that are needed.
The sound in Tetris Party Live is also almost perfect for the title. Unlike pathetic attempts at making a good version of Tetris such as The Next Tetris and Magical Tetris Adventure, this game actually manages to give gamers the proper Tetris music. There are, of course, several other songs to choose from, and I suppose that they’re all sufficient. None of them, however, are able to stand up against the classic sounds of Tetris. Hearing the familiar song even makes it easy to ignore that, after playing for long periods of time, the sound effects can get a little annoying.
Tetris Party Live is not a fresh, new, or innovative game. Almost everyone has played Tetris in one form or another, and seeing it with online play isn’t uncommon, either. For just 500 Nintendo points, however, this particular iteration of the game is easy to recommend. It lacks several of the modes found in the cartridge only Tetris Party Deluxe for DS, and it won’t offer much to gamers who already own that. Still, if you’re a DSi owner looking for a cheap game with the capacity to keep you amused for quite a long time, Tetris Party Live would make a very good purchase.