Tetris Attack (Super Nintendo and Gameboy)

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Yoshi is just hanging out on Yoshi’s Island, as he does, with all of the — presumably reformed villains– when Bowser — with his incredibly ill defined magical powers — enchants them to become Yoshi’s enemies once again. The spell also creates a torrential downpour that will flood the world — you see what I mean by poorly defined. Yoshi must now defeat his friends in a puzzle game to break the spell. You know what? Just… don’t overthink this, don’t think about it at all actually, it’s a tetris-esque puzzle game. Just play it.

History

Tetris Attack is a game being torn in three directions at once. It started off as Panel De Pon, a game about fairies trying to defeat the Devil King, Thanatos, who casts a spell to make the fairies fight among each other. Only Lip is able to resist the spell thanks to her magical stick — hence the Super Smash item Lip’s Stick. Nintendo knew that a puzzle game about fairies wouldn’t sell well in the states so they changed the graphics and made it about Yoshi and the cast of Yoshi’s island, which had been released earlier in the year. They couldn’t call it Panel De Pon and in order to increase the approachability of the game Nintendo asked Tetris and it’s then CEO, Henk Rogers if they could use the name. He agreed, but looking back on it regrets the decision because this game isn’t like Tetris at all, quote from Rogers, “In retrospect, we should never have done that. I don’t think that’s a good idea. It dilutes the brand”.

Tetris Attack was released on November 28, 1996. It’s competition was Diablo (PC), Twisted Metal 2 (PS1), and Donkey Kong Country 3 (SNES).

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Even the walls are happier in Panel de Pon!

Experiences

I can say that as a young child renting video games from Taylor Brook Video I was completely drawn in by a game that was Tetris but HAD ATTACKING! I knew I could play Tetris so I figured I’d be able to play this game, I figured wrong. I couldn’t get very far in the main campaign because I couldn’t figure out how to execute combos or how to organize blocks to eliminate more than three at a time. Like many of these games, I came back when I was in my late teens and was able to finish it. But those unlockable characters would always taunt me, I would never beat very hard mode.

Gameplay

Tetris Attack is… well it works like… I mean, it’s sort of like… and you… nevermind, lemme just show you.

There, that’s how the game works.

The game actually presents a large variety of ways to play the game. There’s endless mode, which is most like actual Tetris. The player plays and accumulates points until they lose. In this mode combos freeze the game so you can get a few seconds of breathing room. There’s puzzle mode which presents the player with a game-state and a certain number of moves. The player’s got to use those moves to eliminated all the blocks. Then there’s VS mode! Where you get to play the campaign style game but against another player. With each player getting the opportunity to adjust their own boards difficulty. And then there’s the main campaign in which you face down 12 computer controlled opponents.

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Endless mode also gets larger, more flavorful stages.

The Gush

Once you get into this game it can plunge you into a state of pure flow. It’s not about seeing the blocks, it’s just moving them — I love it. Although when things would get rough I would lose it though, me and my friends would call this, “losing the sight.” One of us would just say, “I’ve lost the sight,” and then they’d soon lose.

The game looks really kiddy, and I mean that in a good way. If the game wasn’t so difficult it would be pure joy. It’s all fluffy and and edgeless until Yoshi reaches The Cave of Wickedness. And come on, how much more punch can you pull calling it the Cave of Wickedness.

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Cute overload.

The music in this game is also cutesy and I really like it. It’s not as iconic as Tetris’ A-theme but it suits the puzzling aspects of the game well, even growing more excited as the blocks rise higher. I’m personally fond of Blarg’s, Raphael’s, and Bowser’s theme. I will say though that it’s a little lazy that three bosses all use the same music.

The Kvetch

If you want to unlock the bosses as playable characters then you’d best buckle yourself in for a bumpy ride. You’ve got to beat the game on the hardest difficulty. No, not hard mode. I mean the hardest mode. After you beat Hard mode without using a continue Yoshi says that you’re gonna have to hold up and the L button on the difficulty select screen with Hard highlighted to unlock really freakin’ hard mode. Then you’ve got to beat really freakin’ hard mode without using a continue. Then you’ll unlock the bosses as characters. I just want to play as Kamek because he’s a koopa Wizard.

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KOOPA WIZARD! Look at that goddam robe!

A game like this needs the tightest of controls and yet sometimes I feel like the cursor goes further than I mean it to. Maybe I’m just REALLY good at hitting the button quickly but making a misplay can be costly and undoing it takes up valuable time.

The Verdict

You can get the game these days on the WiiU virtual console for eight dollars. It’s a decent enough title but it was really a creature of its time. The big reason I spent my days learning how to play it was because it was the only game I had and I was bored as hell. It’s not a game you and your friends can pick up and play because the handicapping in the VS mode leaves things a little lopsided, and there’s only local multiplayer. You can’t just pick it up and mash buttons like you would be able to in a game like Mortal Combat. The games got a really slow burn and no real focus. I don’t think this game can replace the sheer zen of Tetris but I keep getting drawn back to it every once and awhile. I’m nostalgia blind, and I don’t think I can see past that.

Next Week: Mob Rule

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