Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Yes, Tetris is back. Not that old-school Tetris who used to run the Dungeons & Dragons club out of his basement. No, this is the new and improved Tetris, always ready with a few good tricks—to impress the ladies, of course.

Fitting blocks into place to clear whole lines? Kids' stuff! But Tetris DS takes this tried-and-true favorite with the simplest of premises and gives it a multiple-personality disorder. New modes like "puzzle" and "mission" are pretty much self-explanatory. More innovative additions include "catch" (a Metroid-inspired variant where accumulating blocks builds explosive power), "push" (a tricky game of inside-out tug of war), and " touch" (a chance to put that stylus to work). Of the three, "push" is the most challenging, and the most habit-forming. On the other end of the spectrum, the "touch" mechanics could use some serious work.

Tetris DS is Nintendo-themed, so it's dotted with mostly endearing retro background art—Samus frozen mid-curl, Yoshi slurping up baked goods. Sometimes, though, these cute attempts to use up screen space turn into distractions. Standard play, for example, comes with a visualization of Mario that somehow parallels players' progress. Who has time to watch a plumber hop when there's Tetris to be played?

Beyond the game: Got nine friends? Thanks to local wireless, up to 10 people can play with just one game card.


Worth playing for: That fateful moment when you realize falling Tetriminos are emblazoned on the insides of your eyelids. Real gamers play Tetris while they blink.

Frustration sets in when: The game's wi-fi feature can be a nifty way to spice up the lives of lonesome players, but beware, dedicated fanboys named after heavy-metal bands will eat newbies for breakfast.

Final judgment: Reawaken your inner addict. It's been too long.

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