Nintendo is well known for making sure every one of their gaming platforms receives some iteration or Tetris. Now, it’s the 3DS’ turn. Tetrix: Axis is the latest Tetromino-based puzzle game to be released and this time it’s getting jam-packed with modes which can all be viewed in, you guessed it, stereoscopic 3D now thanks to the handhelds capabilities.
With Tetris games spanning countless devices, including cell phones, does Tetris: Axis provide fans with enough to justify investing in the title once again?
Tetris: Axis contains the classic Marathon mode as well as numerous variations of the original. Some of these mode are hit-and-miss, but overall I believe Tetris fans will find plenty of content to hold them over for hours on end. The modes are broken up into four groups: Featured Modes, Party Modes, Multiplayer, and AR Modes. The last one if most likely the one you’ll spend the least time with, either because you can’t remember what you did with that AR card that came with your 3DS or you simply can’t find a fitting area to circle around the card. This is unfortunate because the idea itself is great, especially when you get AR Climber to work properly.
AR aside, let’s focus on the other three groups. Featured includes Marathon (a mode everyone should be familiar with), Computer Battle, Survival and Fever. Of these four Fever is the only one that needs explaining. Furthermore, it is the only mode that Nintendo has labeled “brand new.” While that may be enticing to some, what this mode really boils down to is Survival 1.5. It adds the ability to collect coins that can be exchanged for items and limits you to 60 seconds, but besides that it won’t feel too different. That doesn’t mean it isn’t addicting, however.
Residing within the Part Modes are: Fit, Tower Climber, Bombliss Plus, Stage Racer Plus, Capture, Master Mode, Sprint, Jigsaw and Shadow Wide. The standouts here seemed to be Stage Racer Plus (navigate a tetromino piece through a track to the finish line with the aid of “jump pads”), Fit (shoot pieces into the blank spots of a square that constantly gets closer to the screen as time runs out) and Tower Climber (aid a character by carefully placing blocks to help ascend the tower).
Tetris fanatics will love the multiplayer component present within Axis. The game allows for up to 8 players to challenge each other in various modes. These can be played locally or online. The best part of all is that not all eight players need the game. As long as one player owns a copy of Axis, seven others can jump in on the fun through Download Play. That alone makes the $29.99 price point seem quite fair.
You’ll be happy to know that Axis does not use the stylus during gameplay. Touch screen gameplay and analog stick support are absent. The face buttons, D-pad, and shoulder buttons are all you need to complete each challenge, and that’s perfect. The game has some hectic and fast-pased modes and a complicated control style could have messed up the entire formula. Thankfully, that isn’t the case here.
Certain Game Modes
While Axis provides 20+ modes for players to try out, not all of them are enjoyable. As stated earlier, the game types can be hit-and-miss, and here’s where we focus on those modes that “missed.” Jigsaw has you building an image on the top screen to match the one on the bottom screen. Shadow Mode is similar in that it has players using pieces to accurately recreate a shape/picture that builds in 3D on the top screen. Also, the small distinguishing factors between Fever, the “new” mode, and Survival are a bit disappointing. In the end, it’ll come down to personal preference of which modes players find most addicting and some may be able to overlook the overlapping features that some mode contain.
This won’t deter fans from buying the game, but it must be said that the random health warnings can be a little annoying. At odd times, players may see a message telling them it might be time for a break. This is nothing new for Nintendo as past Wii games have taken it up themselves to let you know when it believes you’ve played enough. Like I said, this doesn’t void any of the game’s positive marks; it’s just a bit bothersome.
The biggest issue most will find with Tetris: Axis is that it lost a lot of its personality since Tetris DS. DS revived the old-school game by putting a heavy emphasis on the Nintendo vibe. Long gone are the iconic Nintendo characters, such as Mario, populating the screen and, instead, we are left with our personal Mii’s doing repetitive dances/motions through each game. This doesn’t come close to making up for what was lost since the last title.
Tetris: Axis is filled to the brim with modes, ranging from the classics to revamped originals. Besides Marathon, options such as Fit, Stage Racer and Tower Climber are sure to have you addicted for hours. Those who have a long-running history with Tetris, will greatly enjoy playing with seven other friends online, offline, or via Download Play. The blemishes on this package begin to show through some lackluster game modes and the unimaginative design that the Nintendo-themed Tetris DS release included. Overall, Tetris fans will find plenty of content to justify paying $30.
[Editor’s Note: Tetris Axis was reviewed on the Nintendo 3DS hardware. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]