More isn't always better, but in the case of Tetris Axis we'll take it. If you only play each of Tetris Axis's twenty modes one time you'll have played Tetris for several hours. Which is great, because it's more than likely you'll only want to play many of these modes once.
These modes are separated into four main groups: there are the Featured Modes, the Party Modes, the AR Modes (or as we like to call them, "the gimmicks"), and various multiplayer modes. While AR is a neat trick for the 3DS, it only includes two game types (the classic Marathon and Tetris DS's popular Climber mode). Unfortunately, it doesn't use your whereabouts, but instead those Nintendo AR cards you probably threw away a few months ago. To play these modes you need to be about thirty centimeters away from the card and need to be able to walk around the table that your card is laying on. So basically it's worthless unless you have a bunch of 1 by 1 pedestals lying around. Featured Modes is where the game's most polished modes - the ones you’ve already played - reside.
Party Modes are filled with zany weird modes, some of which are fun, some of which are not. There's a surprising amount of overlap here as well. Jigsaw, for instance, has you constructing a picture out of single tiles in the fastest possible time, while Shadow Wide has you doing nearly the same thing just constructing an image in the background, as opposed to the top screen, with multiple tiles.
But if you manage to wade through the lame modes, there are some real treats in here - Fit is a mode that has you shooting Tetris pieces (they're called Tetrominoes in case you were wondering) into gaps. As time goes on, the gaps get bigger and you're forced to use more and more pieces. The time counts down and the nearly-filled matrix gets closer and closer to the screen until you feel the familiar terror that only Tetris can instill. However, if you're a hardcore Tetris player, you've probably played most of these modes. In fact, Fever Mode is the only mode certified "brand new" and it's basically a revamped Survival mode. None of that will matter to the hardcore Tetris gurus out there - Axis's online modes are probably enough to sell the whole package. Axis comes with 8-person off and online multiplayer, and the ability to find new items using SpotPass.
Those same gurus will be happy to know that controls are delightfully simple and stylus-free - you can only control the Tetrominoes with the d-pad. While these controls are natural and even customary, we were bummed the circle pad was relegated to secondary features like moving cameras. Expect finger cramping, especially in some of the fast-paced party modes. The game seems to be worried about your health too - a small warning pops up saying "Let's take a small break even though the game is fun" at bizarre intervals. Annoying, but not deal-breaking.
Ultimately, our biggest gripe with Tetris Axis wasn't its incessant health warnings or handful of lame games. Instead, we were bummed it didn't carry the same Nintendo-flavor of its DS predecessor, which was so packed with Nintendo references people who didn't even like Tetris bought it for modes inspired by Link or Mario. At the end of the day Axis might not be the best Tetris of all time, but it's filled with so many features that its $29.99 price tag is be easily justified, no matter how many times you've bought this game already.
Oct 3, 2011