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The New Tetris – Nintendo 64

The New Tetris – Nintendo 64

New TetrisPlatform: Nintendo 64

Developer: H20 Entertainment

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date (NA): July 1999

Genre: Puzzle

Nerd Rating: 7.5 out of 10

Reviewed by Nerdberry

Immediately I am skeptical about the theory of a “new” Tetris. How can they make a new version of Tetris while still retaining the original concept enough to warrant using the name “Tetris?” It’s like the current line-up and direction of Guns n’ Roses in the 2000’s compared to the Guns n’ Roses from 1987 – 1991. Yes, Axl Rose is still the psychotic frontman who once jumped off the stage to punch a fan with a camera, but the only other remaining “rocker” is Dizzy Reed the keyboardist. Their sound is entirely different and they even had a guitarist who wore a bucket of chicken (empty, mind you) on his head (since departed from the group). Guns n’ Roses? Hardly. It’s more like Axl Rose n’ Friends. That’s kind of how I think about Tetris… At least until I popped in The New Tetris on my Nintendo 64.

Screenshot from the original Tetris on the Game Boy

Screenshot from the original Tetris on the Game Boy

The New Tetris kicks off with one of the coolest introductions I’ve seen on an N64 game. What we see is a hammer (which looks wildly similar to the hammer on the Soviet flag… hmmm… I wonder why…) breaking up some stone with serious power and force. The hammer keeps chiseling away until it is revealed that it was carving out the word “TETRIS” all along. Those are the visuals. We are graced with the classic Russian-esque tune from the original Tetris. The music stays simple and traditional up until the reveal, and at that moment a semi-techno beat is layered into the fold. The new introduction paired with the new soundtrack boldly tells us “this ain’t your older brother’s Tetris. This is New Tetris.”

New Tetris 1

The wonderful thing about a Tetris game is it doesn’t require a genius, or any experience, to figure out how to play the game. You might struggle a little at first, but it won’t take you long to learn that stacking blocks properly is how to play Tetris. Plus, if you’re not familiar with Tetris, there’s a chance that you’re not even a human being. And if you’re not a human being, then stop by the Nerd Bacon office so we can sell you to a science center for millions of dollars… I mean, um… Come over and let’s drink. Yeah. That. Anyway, most people know how to play Tetris. So why would anyone buy The New Tetris? What does The New Tetris have to offer that makes gameplay better and more advanced than previous installments in the series such as Tetris, Tetris Attack, Tetrisphere, Magical Tetris Challenge, Tetris 64 and others?

*First off, let’s remove Tetrisphere from the equation. That is a different animal altogether. Tetrisphere features a full 3D world and you build your “sphere” from a top-down view. Very different. Also, let’s remove Magical Tetris Challenge as that is just Tetris with Disney stuff.

For starters, The New Tetris offers three game modes including Marathon, Sprint, and Ultra. Marathon is the most traditional of the three with the gamer trying to survive as long as possible without letting the blocks reach the very top. Players are given an unlimited amount of time to score as many lines as possible, just like the original Tetris we all know. Sprint mode provides players a 3 minute period of which to clear as many lines as possible. Sprint mode is great for a quick competitive game against an opponent. Ultra mode seems to be extremely similar to Marathon mode and I honestly don’t see a difference except for a stop-watch.

New Tetris 4

The New Tetris remains faithful to the original series by not adding newly shaped tetrominoes or adding any ridiculous gaming elements. But what The New Tetris does add is an enhanced strategy system (for those who are experienced enough to strategize) while retaining all of the originality and fun! Two features stand out immediately, and one of them is the ability to see 3 pieces ahead instead of 1. By showing us the upcoming pieces, we can strategically position the current piece in play. The other standout feature is the ability to swap out a piece each turn from your “storage” area. Sounds confusing, but you will notice in the top left of your screen an unused piece. By pressing the L-button, you can swap the piece in play with the piece from your storage bin.

These two new features provide a significant advantage to gameplay without going over-the-top to make it too easy. In fact, these new features make the multiplayer games much more challenging and frenzied! There is one more notable addition to the game that is somewhat iffy in my book. Players can form 4×4 squares using like pieces for extra points. By using 4 of the same blocks to form a perfectly shaped square, players can create a golden block (the pieces will mold together to create one large square). When a player clears any lines that include some of the golden block, it will give them additional bonus points.

New Tetris 3

Notice the blocks in the top left? That is your storage area and you can swap your current block-in-play with that one!

The reason I think this feature is somewhat iffy is because it gives bonus points to players in a game that was always focused around speed and accuracy. In a multiplayer battle, a player can clear all 4 lines of a golden block and shoot up 40 points. It provides an unfair advantage when someone is getting their ass kicked and they say, “Hey, I’m falling behind tremendously. So instead of playing a traditional match, I’ll just build up a gold block and shoot into first place.” I can see some advantages to this as it provides a different style of play. But personally I’m not a fan. You judge for yourself.

The New Tetris provides players with a fresh perspective on a somewhat tired and overplayed game. This game provides players with some beautiful scenery surrounding their playing field. H20 Entertainment was kind enough to make the scenery detailed and pretty without being distracting. Gameplay is exceptional, and controls are smooth. I found it a little odd that I had to hold my Nintendo 64 trident, I mean controller, like a normal one as the d-pad is the only functional way to navigate the menus or play the game. This actually turned out to be a much appreciated feature as it took me back to the 8 and 16 bit days.

4 player frenzy!

4 player frenzy! Hiro you’re getting your ass kicked!

Perhaps the best part of The New Tetris is the music. It ranges from nostalgically thoughtful to mellow to chaotic and beyond. Maybe you like techno club beats, or perhaps you’re more interested in hearing a sitar strumming to an original Indian-esque tune. No matter what your gaming music fancy, The New Tetris has it all. The soundtrack alone is what keeps me wanting to play over and over.

Overall, The New Tetris is a really fun game and extremely enjoyable to play. It doesn’t quite have the graphics or animation that most would have wanted for a game being released in 1999 on a 5th generation gaming system. Furthermore, this game lacks any sort of depth, and it makes it a tough sell. While fun and enjoyable because it is a Tetris game, after one hour you might find yourself itching for more non-traditional puzzlers such as Dr. Mario for the Nintendo, Wario’s Woods for the Super Nintendo, Mr. Driller for the Dreamcast, or Puyo Pop Fever for the GameCube.

New Tetris Feature

This game would not be worth a heavy price tag, even in 1999. It is currently hovering around the $10 to $15 mark on Amazon and eBay, which is far too expensive in my opinion. The added game features may have increased some of the fun but they are hardly a necessary item nor do they take Tetris in a wild and different direction. It would be wise to save your $10 for something more unique and different and continue playing your older Tetris games. For the puzzle-enthusiast, however, The New Tetris might just be your cup of tea. I’m going to go play with Lego’s now… If you have to ask why, then you don’t understand Tetris.


Reviewed by Nerdberry

Written by Nerdberry


What’s up yall? David “Nerdberry” here! I am the founder of Nerd Bacon and the current co-owner (and CEO) along with partner David “theWatchman!” I hail from North Carolina, hence my love for all things pork! Oh, you’re not familiar with NC? Well I’m not 100% sure, but I am pretty confident that NC and VA lead the nation in pork production. I could be wrong, but even if I am, I still love bacon!

Come enjoy some bacon and games with us yall.


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