N64 Connoisseur

N64 Review #17- Tetrisphere

Da da da da, da da da, da da da, da da, da da da da da da. Huh? Oh. That’s the Tetris theme we all know and love. Or at least I know and love it. I also love me some Tetris. I always have. It’s just so very captivating and addicting. I’m not even that good at it, it’s just plain fun. The Nintendo 64 was more than up to the task of quenching my thirst for the beloved puzzler. Perhaps one of the most unique uses of the franchise, however, comes in the form of Tetrisphere.

The reason why it is such a unique take on the franchise is because it was never supposed to be a puzzle game at all. In fact, originally it wasn’t even supposed to be on the Nintendo 64. Well, somebody’s got a case of the s’postas, don’t they? Nintendo was better at business then and scooped it up. Originally this was supposed to be called Phear and release on the Atari Jaguar. Heh, yeah. I know. Well, Nintendo was also sitting on the Tetris license and decided to reskin the game and we wound up with Tetrisphere.

Tetrisphere is nothing short of absolutely incredible. It’s fun, it’s addictive, and it has just enough Tetris flavor to feel a little familiar. Great use is made of the N64 controller, making it very simple to pick up and play. As with any other Tetris game, this one starts out very simple and ramps all the way up to hair pullingly difficult.

"Balls," said the queen. "If I had 'em, I'd be king."

“Balls,” said the queen. “If I had ’em, I’d be king.”

There are quite a few game modes, but the one I played the most and enjoyed the most was the Rescue Mode. There is an adorable little personified ball hidden inside of a giant sphere. The sphere is covered in two to three layers of blocks that sort of, kind of resemble Tetriminoes. You are given a block that enables you to move blocks of matching shape before you drop it in the hopes of making the largest possible combo. Match three or more to clear those pieces. Fail to do so and you lose a heart. Lose three hearts and the game is over. Take too long, and the sphere starts regenerating blocks. Clear out enough blocks to break through the sphere and rescue that little fella, and you get to go to the next level where he has somehow gotten himself into the exact same predicament. Little scamp.

As fun as that mode is, there are others. Puzzle Mode will no doubt be a favorite of most. In Puzzle Mode, you are given a set scenario and set number of block slides and block drops in order to clear the board. This one was a bit above my skill level after a few puzzles. It could be something I could come back to a bit fresher and do a better job with, but it overall lacked the personality of the Rescue Mode. Something about knowing that adorable little googley eyed tennis ball needed my help just kept me going in that mode.

Hide and Seek Mode is another good one. There is a picture or a number of pictures hidden beneath the blocks and you must uncover them all before you make three bad drops. This is also a very fun mode and the challenge ramps up quickly. It also has the element of frustration because it’s a lot of work sometimes to actually uncover the surface of the sphere and sometimes you go through that and you cleared out the wrong part like a silly goose. Not that I did that, mind you. I’m just saying it could happen. STOP JUDGING ME!

It almost looks like they are coming out of an old school TV.

It almost looks like they are coming out of an old school TV.

There are also a couple of more traditional single player modes, Time Trial and vs CPU. There is a 2-player mode that I will say I was unfortunately not able to experience due to the lack of a second player. Tetrisphere also comes packed with a practice mode and a very helpful training mode to explain just what it is you’re doing with all of  this spherical hullabaloo. Every piece of this game seems to have been designed with the player in mind and it’s so nice to be able to kick back with an experience like that.

Now, those of you audiophiles out there might be wondering how this game sounds. It sounds like a chorus of angel kittens purring into your ears. Ok, maybe not, but it’s good. It’s got a very techno style to it and it fits the pacing of the gameplay very well. Even better than that is that if you don’t like a track, you can actually change which one is playing during your level. To quote the great Earthworm Jim, GROOOOVY!

Look, when you set out to review every game for a console, you run into a lot of bad games. Some of them haunt your nightmares. Tetrisphere is like a canteen of high quality, cucumber infused water, captured from the purest spring on earth that drops into your hands in the middle of a desert. It’s the things you love about Tetris but in a barely Tetris environment so you get a totally new experience. Fun, challenging, colorful, and adorable, Tetrisphere is an absolute must have for your N64 collection.

Ok, Eric. How in the hell did you manage this? This isn't even your cartridge!

Ok, Eric. How in the hell did you manage this? This isn’t even your cartridge!