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Tetris DS is broken

Nintendo has done the unthinkable, they have broken Tetris. Tetris DS, the package, is still good. It has a varied bunch of game modes, a lot of puzzles to solve, good multiplayer, online play, and a fantastic multiplayer "Push Mode" (the best thing to happen to Tetris since Tetris happened.) Unfortunately, "Classic Mode", the very essence of Tetris, is irrevocably broken.

Classic mode has a lot of new features that ruin the gameplay of Tetris. The first is that the preview now shows the next six pieces. Secondly, you can now press a shoulder button to "hold" a piece for later. When you need it, you just hit the shoulder button again to swap it with the current falling piece. This ruins the whole risk and reward aspect of trying to clear four lines since you can just hold a long piece and bring it out whenever you have a large enough shaft. You don't have to wait and hope you don't screw up.

Worst of all, and this is the one that breaks everything, once a piece touches down it doesn't instantly stick. They can be moved and rotated even after the tetrominoes have touched down. In the Tetris of yore, the instant that a piece touched down it was out of play and the next one dropped. The whole point of original Tetris was to move falling pieces into a favourable spot while they were still dropping. The further you got, the faster they fell, the more it tested your reflexes until, eventually, you just couldn't keep up. Everyone lost in the end. The trick was to balance survival time with scoring. That was what made Tetris fun.

Now that you can move pieces after they have landed, the time it takes for the pieces to drop becomes irrelevant. This becomes painfully obvious once you reach level 20 (the attainable goal for the "Classic Marathon", which unlocks "Endless" mode.) On level 20, the blocks no longer drop. They hit the bottom instantly. Once you get used to that idea and you get it into your head to constantly keep blocks in motion (even if back and forth) and you learn to build upwards in the middle and never along the edges (so that instantly falling pieces don't get stuck), you get used to dealing with this. Level 20 becomes very beatable.

That is where the problem lies. Pieces can't fall any faster than instantly, so once you can beat level 20 you can beat level 40 or 400. There is no difference. When you reach that point in your Tetris DS prowess, you are no longer fighting against impossible speeds; you are fighting boredom.

I have a game going right now. It's paused. I started it Sunday before 5pm and I played for a good hour, handily beating my previous record. I made it far. 6pm was time for Battlestar Galactica, so I paused it. When I resumed I was surprised that I wasn't throw off by the delay. I played a little while longer. I was getting bored. I paused and put the DS into sleep mode as I packed my stuff and left for home (I was at my parents' place at the time).

A couple of hours later, at home, I unpaused it and played some more. My hand was cramping. Then the battery light turned red. I paused and plugged the DS into the charger. Later, I played a little bit more. Then another short session in the night as a distraction from other commitments. I slept with the DS paused and charging. After waking, I played it a bit more. There was no sign of a pending game over. It did not get any harder. In fact, the more I played the easier it felt. It was a truly neverending game of Tetris.

By now I'm sick of seeing Tetris blocks. I'm bored to tears with it. I keep playing it, in brief spurts, out of pure masochism. Speed is no longer a factor and the question as to whether Tetris can be played forever comes into play.

While it might be mathematically and theoretically possible to play forever, it is not humanly possible. Not by a long shot. It's no longer fun. It's no longer challenging. It's no longer Tetris. It is broken. Thus, I commit Tetris seppuku, forever ending this one game and symbolically ending any future "Classic Mode" play from me. They'll have me again when they fix it (or if I play the classic NES or GB -- or Tengen -- games), but until then... Tetris is dead to me.

The final tally. Level 428. Over 4280 lines (it maxes out at 999). 11,025,010 points.

Tetris DS game over
April 04, 2006. Gaming.

Comments (10)

Amen.

April 14, 2006 05:12 PM. Posted by: Gil.

meh. some of the things that the writer's complaining about have been around for YEARS. just look at the recent tetris games for cell phones or the tetris game for xbox. i understand the purists would be upset with the changes, but if they wanted to play the old tetris, bust the old gameboy with the 4 greytone shades. change never satisfies everyone.

April 14, 2006 08:39 PM. Posted by: el moco.

My thoughts exactly. I hate the fact that u can still rotate when they touched down, that sorta ruined the game for me also. the orginal gameboy tetris is the best!!!. the only cool new feature is the wifi on the DS, if they just made the old one color and wifi enabled that would have been just find.... :)

April 19, 2006 12:56 AM. Posted by: Adam.

If they would have left it alone, everyone would have said:

"OMG, screw Nintendo! More of the same! They just re-released a classic game without touching it! Revolution my ass!"

So they did what they always do, they took something and made it better. Surprised? If you can already play original tetris on your gameboy, then why the heck would you need a DS cart that plays the same thing?

I like the new tetris. I would have been upset if they wouldnt have improved classic mode.

But I guess you can never please all of the people all of the time.

April 20, 2006 03:37 AM. Posted by: Justin Day.

nicely said! i completely agree with justin day on this.
one reason i love nintendo is because the games they bring out are so much better quality than any other. bring on nintendo wii!

May 4, 2006 09:49 AM. Posted by: J.

Actually the Infinite rotation and lockstall have been in tetris games for some time, it was featured in almost all mobile versions and was used in tetris worlds. To be perfectly honest if tetris worked the way you wanted it to on current processors you'd die well before you saw instant hard drop. inf rotation and lock stall were alternatives to using a Cpu killing process that would have made doing other things like audio and background animations almost impossible.

Tetris DS is by far the best official Tetris game released thus far, and while Online multiplay has been around for us old tetrinet players for quite some time, the portable wifi connection the DS offers allows us to do it without being tethered to a PC.

May 5, 2006 12:18 AM. Posted by: Robert R..

1) Robert R. has absolutely no idea what he is talking about as far as "using a Cpu killing process" goes. It's hard to even form a counter-argument it's so obviously incorrect.

2) While the idea of peices being rotatable at times when they should be "caught on something" is gay, it has nothing to do with why a game is theoretically impossible to play forever. That is a function of pure probability, and ignores speed.

May 8, 2006 03:57 PM. Posted by: skztr.

CHANGE IS GOOD!!!

May 25, 2006 09:26 AM. Posted by: .

I don't agree
dude.

May 25, 2006 09:27 AM. Posted by: .

The T tetromino in Tetris DS reminds me of spinner rims.

June 25, 2006 08:28 PM. Posted by: Damian Yerrick.

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