Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's On Like Donkey Kong

Hello to everyone surfing the world wide web, and welcome to my little corner of cyberspace. This blog will be dedicated to the increasing popular video game industry. This multi-billion dollar entertainment median continues to grow, and has developed an impressive following from across the world. I have personally participated in this phenomenon for the last twenty years and have thoroughly enjoyed the hits, misses, and ground breaking events.

Due to a lack of funding, this blog will not be cutting edge. Primary resources will be derived from my own collection, and most secondary sources will be a synopses of various video game websites. I will offer reviews, previews, and general opinions for various games on the Xbox, Xbox 360, Nintendo DS, Sega Genesis, N64, and the PC. All of these platforms are within my reach, and I will only write about games that I have played--or plan to play--personally. Finally the majority of games will consist of FPS, RPG, Action/Adventure, and Hack/Slash genres. I don't mind reviewing other systems and genres, but as mentioned above this blog has a limited budget.

Now that the ground work has been laid lets move on to some video game goodness. The first game I will be discussing has consistently produced strong results, and many would consider it the most popular video game to date. This game is available on numerous platforms, and is also common on hand held devices like ipods, cell phones, and even calculators. Finally the music from this famous game has been used in countless dance mixes, and is easily recognized throughout the gaming community. This game, if you haven't figured it out, is Tetris.

Tetris is the classic puzzle game. Millions of people play with the same seven blocks trying to clear lines and kill time. That is what makes this game unique. It appeals to numerous individuals that shatter the stereotypical gamer image. Moms, Dads, office workers, and more have given Tetris a try and often thoroughly enjoy the experience. I wonder if Alexey Pajitnov had any clue to the future popularity of his game when he released it in the summer of 1985.

Over the decades Tetris has seen its share of variations. One of the most recent versions was released on the Nintendo DS in 2006. Tetris DS provides players with the traditional game--standard mode--with numerous variations to ensure hours of enjoyment. In Standard mode players have three options: Marathon, Line Clear, and vs CPU. Each type should be familiar to Tetris veterans, and the higher difficulties will defiantly make it hard to blink. Marathon mode, for example, has an endless feature to ensure hand cramps galore, and the AI gets exponentially faster around level 4 in vs CPU. The difficulty gap may catch a few off guard at first, but it is easily conquered with a little practice.

Tetris DS has five additional game variants: Catch, Push, Touch, Mission, and Puzzle. Each of these game types uses elements from the traditional Tetris game. Mission, for example, challenges players to perform certain acts during a Marathon match. They start out easy--clearing two lines--but progressively increase in difficulty--clear two lines using a particular piece. Another game type, Touch, will take advantage of the DS stylus. Players will rotate, drag, and drop blocks to clear lines and reach the balloons at the bottom of the puzzle. Gravity plays a consistent role in this mode making it possible to clear multiple lines with just one move.

Some of the game types will seem very different from the traditional game, but familiar enough to pick up and play. All of these games have Nintendo themed design and sound. Players will see Link and hear classic Zelda in mission mode, and will be helped out by Yoshi in Puzzle matches. Tons of classic NES games are represented like Excitebike, Duck Hunt, Metroid and more. Finally, for competitive gamers there is multiplayer. You can challenge friends and internet strangers to Push and Standard game types with up to four people.

With so much variety it is no surprise that Tetris spends the most time in my DS. The classic game is well executed, and the extra content provides hours of entertainment. Overall this game gets a 4.8 out of 5. The only thing preventing it from a perfect score was the lack of sound options. There is no way to customize which tracks play during your games. Hearing original Nintendo music is great, but sometimes I just want listen the original Tetris score.

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