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V-Tetris (import)

When a new video game system is released on the market, there never seems to be any question as to whether or not there'll be a Tetris game for it, but rather how many there will be. For the Virtual Boy, there were two versions of the classic Alexey Pajitnov puzzle. V-Tetris, released only in Japan, is one of them.


visuals

For a Tetris title on a groundbreaking 3-D system, V-Tetris offers the standard, run-of-the-mill puzzle blocks and shapes. Every Tetrad is comprised of four of the same small squares, making for a very generic-looking stack. Needless to say, the graphical focus wasn't on the puzzle itself, but rather on the background scenery.

V-Tetris features elves. Yes, you read right: elves. An elf is carrying a Tetrad on the title screen, elves decorate the menu screens, and elves are the subject of the secondary background option. It's really quite disturbing for anyone older than 10.

Otherwise, there are some interestingly distracting objects flying around in the space behind the stack area such as a star field, clouds, and spaceships. Better to go with the benign star field utilizing the VB's 3-D capabilities than be terrorized by the non-moving, smiling elves.

True to its name, V-Tetris is just that - whenever a Tetris is scored, the lines turn into a giant "V" and fly out from the screen. Blocks involved in single, double, and triple line scores remain in their normal form and also fly out before disappearing.


audio

The quirky, happy themes in V-Tetris are the typical puzzle music fare, even though they don't quite to compare to Neil Voss's compositions in the recent versions or Tchaikovsky of the original Tetris games. Still, the songs available do their simple job of letting puzzle gamers get their groove on Tetris-style, SPS (Sweaty Palm Syndrome) and all. For those who scoff at the audio offerings of Bullet-Proof Software, golden silence is available.

Sound effects for rotating and dropping pieces are simply bloops and bleeps in the form of a shuffling sound, though a helpful "tink" has been added prior to the settling of each Tetrad for the purpose of last-minute arrangements prior to the final "thud."


gameplay

It's Tetris, plain and simple. Drop one of seven randomly selected Tetrads into a well and assemble them to form as many horizontal lines as possible. Each Tetrad is made up of 4 squares and fits on the stack in a different way. Let's review, shall we?

4-Square: Don't bother rotating this Tetrad, as it's a perfect 2x2 square. It needs a flat surface to land on or will create a gap.

4-Bar: Seemingly the rarest of all the Tetrads-- at least when it's really needed-- this 1x4 piece is the only one capable of clearing four lines at once. That's what we call a Tetris.

L-Block: This block is critical in filling in a hole that's two squares high on the left and three blocks high on the right. It also comes in handy for filling in any overhanging pieces.

L-Block Reverse: Same as the L-Block, but its mirror image.

Z-Block: I hate this piece, especially in too many numbers at the start of the game. It cannot be placed on a flat surface and needs some unevenness to fit in well.

Z-Block Reverse: Same as the Z-Block, but its mirror image.

T-Block: This block is a great substitute for either Z-Block, filling in any sort of two-square wide uneven surface or topping three-block wide even surface.

So when every layer is completed in a horizontal line, it disappears and points are tallied according to the speed and number of lines cleared simultaneously. With levels incremented upon passing a multiple of 10 total lines, the Tetrads fall faster and faster until the stack reaches the top of the screen or power to the system is lost, whichever comes first.

Type-B offers players the option of playing with a pre-generated field of randomly placed blocks ranging from "Rounds" 0-5. Clear the requisite number of lines to achieve the highest score possible and enter initials.

Type-C is a unique option in the world of Tetris that, although innovative for the VB, fails to adequately take advantage of the system's 3-D capabilities. L and R are used to rotate the stack around to a flat-shaded background layer behind a chain-link fence. So when the situation on the current stack gets too hairy, the tables can be turned quite easily for a quick out. However, this mode discourages wimpy single-line scores by dropping a horizontal 4-Bar Tetrad in the background whenever that occurs. On the other hand, utterly massive Tetrises can be scored by building the stack all the way around so as to complete many lines by means of rotation, then triggering the line score with a standard-issue Tetris towards the top of the stack. It's a mind-bending mode, to be sure.


multiplayer

N/A


overall

While Tetris in its regular, red-vanilla form is as good as it ever was, it just wasn't the killer-app for the Virtual Boy in Japan that the original Tetris was for the Game Boy. But for current VB owners, this puzzler is surprisingly available for dirt-cheap and should be one of the very first additions to any completionist's library.


final score

7.5/10