Review by Kikko

"Want a solid Tetris title on your Saturn? Here it is"

The web searched, I couldn't find one review on Tetris S. NOT ONE. Talking to well-informed Saturn fans, I realized few ever heard of Tetris S, let alone owned a copy. Simply put, for whatever reasons, this game never got the word of mouth Baku Baku or Puzzle Fighter did. Well, that's about to change.

After playing it, I'm here to spread the word. Tetris S is a fine puzzle game that does the proud name justice. Tetris S is truly a gem that more Saturn owners need to be aware of.

I love Bust-A-Move 2 as much as the next guy. I'm a Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo nut. But I love Tetris differently than any other puzzle game. You see, Tetris is the original king; the grand-daddy of them all. It's like going home after a long vacation. And thanks to the fine folks at Bullet-Proof Software, who saw fit to release Tetris S two days after Christmas in '96, this is all possible on a Saturn near you!

The first thing I noticed about Tetris S, when I looked at the back case, was the purple monkey. Normally we do not associate Tetris with a monkey, but here he is in Tetris S; he has a semi-super deformed head and he's always present when you're playing the game. He doesn't say anything cute like ''Yatta!'' or ''Gomen Ne?'' but he has a unique charm all to himself. He keeps quiet and you never much pay attention to him, but there's just something cool about a monkey watching you go through the highs and lows of Tetris.

Tetris S has 3 modes of play: Classic, CPU VS. and 2P VS. Options include difficulty setting which can be adjusted from easiest, easy, normal, hard to hardest. 1-5 rounds can be selected.

Classic: This is what you expect. Just you, a well, and falling blocks which you must a-line. Oh yeah, and that little funky monkey bearing witness. If the well fills up, you're done. The Classic Mode is perfect to play before you decide to retire for the night. No matter how many curve balls life throws your way or when you're sick of the latest gaming trends, the timeless Classic Mode awaits.

CPU VS: A mode Tetris Plus didn't even have. A true shame. But it's here in Tetris S and presented well. The computer is very challenging, even on 'easy' difficulty. Depending on how many lines you clear at one time, you can affect the speed of the opponent's next few blocks. And vice versa. This mode is excellent when a human competitor is not on hand and you desire some tough competition.

2P VS: This is the most fun mode in the game to play. It's a joy playing Tetris against a sibling or friend. It's always a hoot to laugh at your opponent whenever he or she misplaces a block! Great stuff. This is less chaotic than other two player puzzle games, but that's good. The last thing I want in a Tetris game is the enemy sending countless blocks over ala Puzzle Fighter. By the way, don't worry, there is a little competitive ''backfiring'' you can perform on your rival. The opponent's block will flash and descend faster than normal. This happens when you get a 2 line, 3 line or 4 line combo. The bigger the line combo and points earned on a clearing, the more blocks that will descend rapidly on your opponent's screen. I love hearing my brother whine, ''Look what you did!'' :-)

Graphics: 7.5
It doesn't tax the Saturn by any means. But what's here is effective and simple. The blocks are colorful and the various backgrounds are well done. They range from realistic, photographic hi-res real life buildings/locations to hand-drawn, cartoony scenes with the monkey and his friends. There is one particular backdrop that is absolutely gorgeous. The crescent, illuminating moon hanging in the distance, as the monkeys sit and watch the peaceful night gently roll by.

Sound/Music: 7
The sounds are your typical puzzle game affair. Same goes for the music. Some tunes sounded good while others seemed as if they were recorded by a guy just drunk from an overdose of sake. I like it all nonetheless. Again, the monkey stays quiet except for some small noises here and there. I wish the producers had let him yap a little bit more. When you're about to die, the music speeds up. Get back to ''safety level'' and the music will slow back down. Soon as you get to danger level again, there goes the heart-attack inducing speedy music again. You can literally go from calm music to crazy music back to calm and then crazy again, within 5 seconds. It recaptures the great feeling of a good Tetris game, that sense of urgency and desperation.

Control: 8.5
It feels slightly rigid at first, but after a few plays, you'll adjust to it and never complain again. Rookies will often make the mistake of misjudging where to drop a block quickly, but you learn after a few minutes.

Gameplay: 10
Tetris S is pure and splendid. Nothing more needs to be addressed.

Replay Value: 10
If you have a friend or sibling and you enjoyed Tetris in the past, you will definitely like Tetris S. I see myself playing this game ten years from now. I don't care how graphically amped up the next generation of games will be, Tetris will live forever in my home.

Fun Factor: 9
I really have enjoyed playing Tetris S. And with 2 players it's two times as fun.

MISC:
-This game does not have one ''Now Loading'' screen. Hooray!

-You might be wondering what the ''S'' in the title stands for. I have no clue. Tetris Saturn perhaps? Tetris Special? Hey, they all apply as far as I'm concerned.

-The monkey has no name to the best of my knowledge, but I decided to pet-name him ''Alex the funky Monkey,'' in honor of Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov.

Bottom Line:

There's no place like home. Some people love going on vacation and rightfully so. I enjoy the shattering of gems in Puzzle Fighter, I dig the ''chomp chomp'' sounds filled in Baku Baku. But at the end of the day, most of the times I wouldn't want to be anywhere else but home. Pop Tetris S in your Saturn today and enjoy a little classic mode, or battle the computer, or take on your comrade in the two player versus mode.

I think you'll agree with me that it's good to be back home.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 04/26/03, Updated 04/26/03


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