Thursday 23 July 2015

3-D Tetris (Virtual Boy review)

Developer: T&E Soft
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1996

3-D Tetris is a puzzle game that was released exclusively in North America.

There are three different game types which are 3-D Tetris, Center-Fill and Puzzle. The first mode is purely about getting a high score and it eventually gets faster with more awkward block combinations. The play area is made up of five layers (indicated on the right-hand-side graphic) and each time you stack a block over this limit the number of layers is reduced by one. When you've lost all your layers it's game over. It starts off incredibly slow and takes forever for blocks to fall down. Things do pick up eventually but you have to bare with it for the first few levels. The camera is innovative and swirls around as you play to give a greater sense of depth; however, it obscures your view so you'll need to manually adjust it with the L trigger. After a few minutes the constant movement gets annoying and you'll wish there was an option to keep it static. It becomes really unwieldy in higher levels as the camera and wireframe graphics make it tricky to quickly see the height of each row. There's also a slight delay when moving a block... not great in a game like this! At least the game saves your high scores to the cartridge. In Center-Fill mode you have to place blocks symmetrically around marked squares. Once you've done that you can place a block onto the centre square to complete the layer. It's mildly entertaining and although it's not particularly intuitive it does force you to think about placing items a bit differently. In Puzzle mode you're shown an outline of a shape that you need to fill. Do so correctly and you'll move onto the next stage; drop a block in the wrong place and it's immediately game over. It's no fun as the puzzle only shows briefly before disappearing and it's confusing having to use the layer graphics on the right.

3-D Tetris is an interesting take on a puzzle classic but the stereoscopic effect doesn't enhance the gameplay as much as you might expect. If anything it actually hinders your enjoyment and the swaying camera comes across as nothing more than a poorly implemented gimmick.

Random trivia: A version of the game called Polygo Block was planned for Japanese markets but was ultimately cancelled.

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