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Tetris Attack (Game Boy)

100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Tom Jacob (7)
Written on  :  Jan 01, 2005
Platform  :  Game Boy

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More addicting than Tetris!

The Good

Everything...each mode (Endless, Time Trial, Stage Clear, Puzzle and Vs.) offers unique gameplay challenges and helps develop all your gaming skills; speed, hand-eye coordination, critical thinking, forward thinking, pattern recognition, etc. The graphics are similar to Yoshi's Island, but a little more palatable for older audiences and offer a great backdrop to the action. The sounds and music never get in the way, instead working in tandem with the graphics to provide critical clues as to what's happening (hearing the Giant Garbage Block fanfare while playing against Bowser on Vs. is always a sign that you're about to get hurt...). Music is simple and hummable and you may even find yourself singing the tunes as you play.

There's even a two-player, head-to-head mode that features Time Trial and Vs. so you and a friend can have a go at the action together. Unless you're allergic to puzzle games - or you don't like Yoshi - , there's really no reason you won't like this game.

The Bad

The one singular complaint I have is the puzzles in Puzzle Mode are sometimes a bit too hard...I am even now pulling my hair out trying to figure out Stage 6-09. Otherwise, nothing.

The Bottom Line

A totally unique and thoroughly addicting gaming experience, the only real resemblance Attack has to the original Tetris is the title; in Tetris Attack, you have a pit full of colored tiles that you must switch horizontally to line up matches of 3 or more like-colors, but you can only switch two tiles at a time. While that is happening, new tiles are being pushed up from the bottom (except in Puzzle mode).

Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, it's more complicated than that...when a group of tiles disappears, any tiles above the new gap will fall down to fill it; if another group of tiles is cleared as a result, that results in a chain reaction, which gives you extra points and stops the rise of tiles for a moment. Also, you can line up more than three tiles at a time to form a combo, which has the same effect, if lessened, as a chain.

Chains and combos are the main push of the gameplay, as in Vs. Mode, those moves allow you to attack your opponent by burying them in Garbage Blocks, but more about that later... Combos are relatively easy, and anyone can learn to do them somewhat quickly. Chains are trickier and only true masters can get monster 20+ chains going. (This reviewer has only set up an 8 chain to date...). There are different ways to set up chains and the longer you can sustain one, the more points you will get and the bigger your attack will be in Vs.

Endless - What is sounds like; you play for as long as you can keep your stack of tiles from touching the ceiling. The catch is, the longer you play, the faster the tiles rise, forcing you to move faster and rack up higher and higher chains to stay in play. This is a good training ground for newbies at it allows them to gradually slide into the game, but challenges them enough to improve over time.

Time Trial - You have two minutes to get as many points as you can. This mode is an excellent proving ground for newbies who have been practicing on Endless Mode to test (or show off) their new skills in a non-competitive but challenging arena.

This is also the mode where pulling off chains and combos really pays off, as super-chains give major amounts of points.

Stage Clear - An interesting twist to Endless, you have to keep clearing tiles from the pit until a line appears. Once you see the line, you have to work to drop the tiles below the line to win. As you progress, the tiles rise faster and the line takes longer to appear.

Puzzle - Excellent practice for identifying chain patterns, Puzzle Mode gives you a specific number of tiles and a limited number of switches to clear every tile. There is always a solution, even if it's not always obvious, and of course the puzzles get harder and harder the further you progress.

Vs. - The Big Match. Sometimes called "Story Mode", 1 player Vs. pits you against a series of opponents, each of which is faster and more skilled than the last.

The story goes, Yoshi's eight friends have been brainwashed by Bowser's evil magic, and the only way to free them of the spell is to defeat them in one round of Tetris Attack. Once freed, your friends will fight with you to defeat the four Boss characters, which means you can select them as your "avatar" on screen. There's really no difference between the characters other than what they say when you attack...and if a character other than Yoshi falls during a match, they are no longer selectable.

The biggest difference of Vs. mode to any other is when you complete a Combo or Chain, it drops a large Garbage Block on top of your opponent's pile, which serves to block the movement of tiles and/or raise their stack to the ceiling quicker. Combos, no matter how large, will only drop small Garbage; never more than 5 tiles wide. Chains, on the other hand, will drop Garbage that crosses the entire pit and can even be two, three, four or more layers thick!

Whenever a chain beyond x2 is done, another layer will be added to the Garbage. So, for example, if you did a x5 consecutive chain, a Garbage 4 layers deep would fall on your opponent. This is good for you as Garbage can be eliminated by clearing tiles that touch the Garbage (the effect will be passed through multiple Garbage Block that are touching each other, regardless of whether every Garbage touches the tiles) and turn to tiles, but when this happens to deep Garbage, only the lowest layer will turn to tiles, and the other layers will revert back to Garbage. This is both a curse and a blessing; the curse is you have to clear each layer of a deep Garbage separately, the blessing is, if the Garbage is really deep, the converted tiles won't drop immediately, allowing you to set up a counter-attack using the converted tiles. The other part of the deep Garbage blessing is the fact that while the Garbage is converting, the tiles stop rising until the conversion is finished.

There is another type of Garbage, too, called Metal Garbage, but this requires special tiles to attack with. In addition to the normal colors, in Vs. mode you will occasionally get gray-colored tiles with "!" on them; line three of these up to send a Metal Garbage on your opponent that stretches across the screen. Line up four and you send two Metals and a three-tile-length Regular Garbage to your opponent.

Metals can be used strategically, as they must be cleared separate of Regular Garbage; if a Regular Garbage is converted while touching a Metal Garbage, only the Regular Garbage will be affected and the Metal will have to be cleared with a separate set of tiles. You can use this to your advantage by dropping a Metal or two amongst a large number of Regulars (especially Deep Regulars) to make it that much more difficult for your opponent to clear all the Garbage quickly. This strategy can usually sound the death knell for your opponent in the late-game when the tiles are rising fast.

2-player Time Trial - Same as 1 player, but this time you are competing with another player to see who can get the highest score in two minutes. This is the less confrontational 2-player mode.

2-player Vs. - Same as 1 player, but like with 2-p Time Trial, you are now competing against another person in a best-of-three match. All the other rules are the same.

No matter which mode you play, you will be challenged, but you'll always come back for more, too, because once you get Tetris Attacked, there's no going back!