Review: Tetris Axis

Hi, Tetris! Welcome to my 3DS! I knew you would visit sooner or later!!

Simple stuff out of the way: Tetris Axis is not a terrible game, nor is it an amazing one. It does the classic game design pretty well, and for my $30 has more value than that Tetris Party Live I know you have been nervously eyeing in the eShop for a paltry five bucks.

In fact, I have enjoyed Axis slightly more than Tetris DS. Nerds will know DS as that highly acclaimed iteration Nintendo developed in 2006 because they are probably still playing it. All of the extra “party” modes in Tetris Axis do a great job of simply being entertaining, something I cannot say for more than half of DS’s package. There is nary a dud in the bunch, even if some are more compelling than others.

And to point out the obvious: sure, this new one might not have Mario and Zelda running around in the background like that fan favorite, but something tells me that you are not paying attention to what’s going on behind the tetrominos at level 15 and beyond.

The main thing Axis wants you to know right on the package — and in the scant advertising Nintendo has allowed — is that there are AR MODES! AUGMENTED REALITY TETRIS! YOU CAN PLAY TETRIS ON YOUR KITCHEN TABLE! The downside of this, however, is that it is not particularly fun. Oops!

The 3DS cameras are still shitty, and they still require a bunch of light my seemingly impenetrable cave of a house will never have, so just setting up for a specific Tetris-friendly environment is enough to drive one mad. Once you finally get Marathon mode going, it ends: the pieces are bigger than usual in a smaller field, the requirement to reach the end easily done within a minute or two. Full disclosure — I could not complete a round of AR Tower Climber, that one mode where a stick figure runs up a tower magically growing out of your table or someone’s face via a path of tetrominos you helpfully throw at him. The game could not see my giant AR card even with thirty lamps scattered around it. But, hey! At least it was not as frustrating as my time online!

Which REALLY clumsily brings me to the game’s most glaring flaw: the random online matches are broken. A new item is being trolled about to make matches unfair and pointless — I will call it the “screen switcher.” With a tap of the stylus, one who hates the concept of happiness and probably kitties can switch your beautiful looking blank space to theirs, usually an intentional mess of L pieces stacked on top each other that will instantly end your game and lower your score. To see hundreds of points from your online nerd score go down due to this is absolutely frustrating and wrong, and there is nothing you or I can do about it because Nintendo does not believe in modern technology (patching, online, HD, decent online infrastructure, teleportation).

One of the main reasons anyone gets Tetris for more than $5 in these iPhone days is the online component, and to have it be nearly unplayable is just not an ideal situation. Especially when one considers Tetris Battle — a free game on Facebook that does battles between random people way better with its tiered progression and not totally obnoxious items.

Aside from that, I have already put in around 20 hours without even noticing, so either that is something worth noting or simply reflects the general nature of Tetris: an instant time suck regardless of what version you are playing. However, I have enjoyed my time with Axis, so, I do not know. So confused! Buy it/do not buy it!

+ It’s Tetris!!
+ Most of the extra modes are fun and entertaining
+ Your Mii dances really hilariously on the bottom screen!
+ Local multiplayer is a good time, of course

– Online isn’t kewl
– AR modes are boring
– Nintendo very obviously did not develop this one, so some may take issue with the presentation

***/*****

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