It’s hard to believe, but Tetris Party Deluxe is the first disc-based Tetris game for the Wii. It’s a suped-up version of the well-received WiiWare title Tetris Party, and while we’re not quite sure it’s worth the higher price ($30 for the disc, $12 for the WiiWare game), it’s a ton of fun and a great opportunity for gamers without high-speed Internet to catch up on an addictive experience. The great thing about Tetris Party, both the original version and the new disc, is that it does both single-player and multiplayer well.
The core gameplay consists of the falling blocks we all know and love, along with a feature that lets you save a piece for later if you can’t place it, as well as some items you can use to help yourself out or hurt a competitor. Some of these items are more damaging than others; for example, you can reverse an opponent’s controls, which can destroy a whole screen in a hurry if he doesn’t catch on.
The refined graphics are colorful, simple, and pleasing to look at, and the updated music fits the game well and never gets annoying. The controls are still simple, of course: Holding the Wii-mote sideways, you rotate the pieces with the face buttons, move and drop them with the D-pad, and use items with B. Those who remember certain PC versions of the game might be tempted to press up on the D-pad to rotate, and will instead slam the piece into the ground, but once that little nuance is worked out, there’s nothing to fault in the controls.
Even looking at the carryovers from the original Tetris Party, there are simply tons of modes available in addition to the basic ones you’d expect in any Tetris title. By yourself, there’s a “beginner’s” game, with bigger pieces (some of them with fewer than four blocks apiece), and a mode that lets you play with the Wii Balance Board, leaning this way and that to steer the pieces. In Field Climber, there’s a man on the board who can only climb steps that are one block tall, and you have to help him reach the top. In Shadow, there’s an outline on the screen, and you have to fill it with blocks without going outside the lines. In Stage Racer, you guide a piece as it falls through a course. In Hot Lines, you have to clear specific lines on the screen, which sometimes means you have to build up the blocks high before getting to work on clearing.
With up to three friends locally or five online, you can play the above modes competitively. Also, there’s Co-Op Tetris, which puts you and a friend together on an extra-large board. In Duel Spaces, you fight a friend to close off as much space as you can instead of filling it in.
Each and every one of these modes is well-balanced, addictive, and an interesting twist on the basic Tetris game — in short, a lot of fun. With either version of the game, you’ll be captivated for hours, and if you follow the name of the game and host a party around it, you can have a lot of fun with your friends (especially if you have some Balance Boards and libations handy). The two versions are even compatible with each other for online play.
So, what does the “Deluxe” version of the game add? That’s where things get disappointing. While the disc costs more than twice what the download does, there certainly aren’t twice as many features; we suspect it’s a way to get money out of impulse shoppers and gamers without high-speed Internet connections, rather than a way to genuinely expand the game. We don’t blame the developers and publisher for wanting to make money, but this should have been priced at $15 or $20, at most.
Six new game modes make the cut, none of which are bad, but most of which don’t live up to the promise of the original modes. In Co-Op VS. Co-Op, probably the most fun of the added modes, you and a friend face off against two other players in (you guessed it) Co-Op mode. There’s also Bombliss, which is decent, though it already appeared in the NES version of Tetris; some pieces have bombs in them, which set off chain reactions when they’re cleared.
Most of the other modes are far less inspired, and they serve as little more than temporary distractions. In Sprint and VS Sprint, you race to clear 40 lines. In Master, you start on the highest difficulty, meaning the pieces appear at the bottom, giving you a split second to move them before they set. In All Clear Sprint, you race to achieve 20 “perfect clears” (that is, screens with no blocks at all).
Also, you can use the Wii Wheel to steer your piece in Stage Racer, there’s Wii Speak support, some of the modes have automatic handicaps, and some modes have been tweaked. Perhaps the most welcome improvement is that Stage Racer has longer courses. Field Climber now has an endless-play option, which is nice if you’re really into that mode (we’re not; it’s often brilliant, but whenever you trap the poor guy by accident, it’s too hard to salvage the game). Shadow now has a level editor, which can be fun to draw in for a little while.
That’s all nice, but here’s what it boils down to: six extra modes, few of them very much fun, and some tweaks to existing modes, for more than twice the price.
The attempt to rip off consumers, however, doesn’t change the fact that the basic game here is very, very solid. So, we don’t recommend going without Tetris Party entirely. Rather, you should either download the original game, or wait for Tetris Party Deluxe to come down in price to $20 or so.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 4.7 Graphics
They’re simple, but they’re cute, and they get the job done. 4.5 Control
Some customization would be nice for people who got used to other schemes, but this is the modern standard and it works fine. 4.1 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music fits the game, and the sound effects add a nice touch. 2.6
More than twice the price, less than twice the features: do the math.
3.8 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.