Review: Tetris Party Deluxe

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Over 25 years and counting, Tetris, the world’s greatest puzzle game, is still going strong… and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. I love me some Tetris, but every great franchise has to end some time, right?

If you ask me, that is definitely true in this case. Not that Tetris Party Deluxe is a poor game; it most certainly is not. It’s just the same game it’s been for over two decades, only jazzed up with added features that, while welcomed additions, are largely inconsequential.

Given how long Tetris has been around and how many platforms it’s been released on, I’m going to assume you’ve played or at least know how the game works. You know the drill here: blocks of different shapes and colors called Tetriminos fall from the sky, you flip them around and fit them together into complete lines to clear the screen before it fills up to the top, and, well… that’s about it. Nothing’s changed, and that’s good because Tetris isn’t broken and doesn’t need to be fixed.

The quality of gameplay and the potency of its addictive allure hasn’t changed or faded a lick, but it has been expanded upon in terms of quantity. From traditional Tetris play to local and online puzzle battles to a host of modes that put a fresh spin on the core gameplay, the sheer volume of content available in Tetris Party Deluxe is staggering. Mode variations include things like Shadow, in which you stack blocks in formations matching a shadowed image in the background; Field Climber, in which you use Tetriminos to build a staircase leading a little climber dude to the top of the screen; Stage Racer, in which you guide a single Tetrimino through a vertically scrolling course; and Bombliss, in which you link together bomb pieces to clear lines and blow up surrounding blocks.

As the “Party” in the title suggests, multiplayer is a key point of emphasis for Tetris Party Deluxe, and luckily that is where the game is at its addictive best. Multiplayer variations of all the solo modes are available (in local play that is), and there are even a few other modes exclusive to multiplayer, including co-op and Duel Spaces, a neat turn-based mode in which two players face off in a struggle to capture the most screen space. Online play, though limited to VS play only, is definitely the highlight of the game for me. Friend codes aren’t required either, so if you don’t know anyone to swap codes with you can still take on other Tetris players from around the world.

Differences between the DS and Wii versions are minimal, as are the differences between this Deluxe version and the original WiiWare release of Tetris Party from a couple years ago (take a look at this helpful comparison sheet for a checklist of features). The Wii’s online play supports up to six players at a time, whereas the DS version maxes out at four. As a trade-off, Duel Spaces is playable online in the DS version, but isn’t on the Wii. The Wii version also has little touches like Mii support, Wii Speak voice chat, and gimmicky modes designed for use with the Balance Board and Wii Wheel, but these things really have no substantive value.

Overall, I prefer the DS version because the actual gameplay seems faster and more responsive to me. I don’t know; Tetris just has a better feel to it in the palm of my hands opposed to playing on a TV screen with a sideways Wii Remote or Classic Controller.

Tetris Party Deluxe is by far the deepest, most feature rich iteration of Tetris I’ve every played, and that’s saying a lot considering how many reinventions Tetris has gone through over the years. However, the simple fact remains that this game is still the same Tetris we’ve been playing for decades now, and much of the game’s robustness is built on novelty and gimmickry that quickly wears thin in comparison to traditional Tetris gameplay.

You certainly can’t go wrong with Tetris Party Deluxe, especially if you don’t own Tetris in some form already. But with both versions priced at $30, the original Tetris Party ($12) and even EA’s PlayStation Minis title ($10) are better, cheaper options. This game would’ve been better served going the DSiWare / WiiWare route.

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Pros:
+ Same addictive Tetris gameplay as always
+ Loaded with modes and options
+ Fantastic multiplayer experience

Cons:
– Too many unnecessary gimmicks
– $30 price is tough to swallow

Game Info:
Platform: DS, Wii (Both versions reviewed)
Publisher: Tetris Online / Majesco
Developer: Hudson Soft
Release Date: 6/1/2010
Genre: Puzzle
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1-8 (Wii: 1-4 local, 2-6 online; DS: 1-8 local, 2-4 online)
Source: Review copies provided by publisher

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!