V-Tetris
  • Genre:
    • Puzzle
  • Platform:
    • Virtual Boy
  • Developer:
    • Locomotive Corporation
  • Publisher:
    • Bullet-Proof Software
  • Released:
    • JP 08/25/1995
Score: 65%

This review was published on 06/08/2016.

V-Tetris is a falling blocks puzzle video game developed by Locomotive Corporation and published by Bullet-Proof Software for the Virtual Boy. It was originally and exclusively released in Japan on August 25, 1995. There was a North American release planned under the tentative title of V1 Tetris, but it never happened. Note that this is completely different from 3D Tetris, which was another game released for the Virtual Boy in 1996. Originally, the original Tetris was a puzzle game designed by a Russian scientist named Alexey Pajitnov sometime in the 1980s, and it has received many ports and remakes on various platforms throughout the years. V-Tetris is one of those rereleases, but it's somewhere between a port and a remake. It's basically the same thing as normal Tetris, just with an extra mode added to it. The extra mode isn't particularly worth it, but Tetris itself is far from a bad game.

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In the extremely rare circumstance that you don't know what Tetris is like, I'll explain it to you. A block of varying shapes and sizes will fall from the top of the screen and you control its descent with the left directional pad and rotate it with the buttons. Once it lands, it'll freeze in place and another block will fall from above, restarting the endless cycle. The main objective of Tetris is to form completely horizontal lines, which will cause the lined up blocks to vanish from the screen. It matters not what shape and size the blocks are, so long as they form a horizontal line with no gaps in between. Whatever blocks were on top of the cleared line will automatically fall downwards, though unlike other similar puzzle games, chain clears can't be gotten this way. If your stack of blocks goes above the line at the top of the screen, then you lose. It's these basic mechanics that have allowed Tetris to endure the ages.

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There are three modes to this game, the first of which is Mode A. This is the typical classic mode that's in almost every falling blocks puzzle game, but was pretty much pioneered by Tetris. In this mode, the game essentially goes on forever, or until you lose; whichever comes first. My money's on your failure. Anyway, the point to this mode is to get as many points as possible before losing. You get points by clearing lines, obviously. If you clear more than one line at a time, you'll get bonus points, though you can't ever eliminate more than four at once. The falling speed of the blocks is represented by the level indicator to the left side of the screen, which increases over time. Basically, the longer you play this mode, the harder it gets, as the blocks will fall faster and faster. There's also a handy indicator to the right side of the screen that keeps track of how many lines you've cleared. V-Tetris doesn't change anything about this mode, so there are no surprises here.

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Mode B has you clearing blocks just like every other mode, but the rules are a little different. In Mode B, you're tasked with clearing a certain amount of lines before being allowed to move on to the next level, where you proceed to do the same thing. Like Mode A, blocks will fall faster on the higher levels, making things more challenging. Unlike Mode A, however, the highest level is nine. After you beat level nine, you'll loop back to level zero, but you'll be on a higher round. Each round above zero starts you off with a screen already filled with a few blocks, with the higher rounds having more blocks. These blocks have plenty of gaps in between them, making their elimination more difficult. There are six rounds with ten levels each, and once you beat them all, you'll get to see the credits. The more goal oriented nature of this mode will make it more fun for some.

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Finally, the last mode is Mode C. Unlike everything else, this mode is unique to V-Tetris. At first glance, this won't look any different than Mode A, but there is a big difference: you can rotate the play area with the L or R buttons or the right d-pad. The play area is like a giant cylinder, which lets you place blocks in a three dimensional spiral. Unfortunately, this isn't conveyed very well visually, as the play area itself still looks completely two dimensional. The only evidence of the environment's cylindrical qualities is the silhouette of blocks that are in the background. Speaking of, another big thing about this mode is that you're penalized for only clearing single lines, as doing so will cause extra blocks to appear in the background. Visual mundanity aside, this is a fairly interesting mode that's definitely worth a try. It's not worth getting a Virtual Boy over, though.

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Since this is the Virtual Boy, you get a neat little stereoscopic 3-D effect whenever you clear lines, and it gets bigger the more lines you clear. If you clear four lines at once, the blocks will form a V shape before dematerializing. This isn't enough to justify the Virtual Boy's terrible red and black color scheme, but it's better than nothing. Also, you can pick between two different backgrounds per mode. Some of these backgrounds are nicely detailed, but some are lazy, like the one that's just a black screen with falling leaves. Modes A and B both have the same three music tracks to pick from, whereas Mode C has its own exclusive music. Sadly, the classic Tetris themes are absent here, and the included tracks don't stand up to the original tunes. Music C isn't bad, though. You can also opt to disable the music, but that's dumb.

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Besides a couple of unimpressive stereoscopic 3-D effects, the only thing this game has over regular Tetris is Mode C, which is nice, but not nice enough to make the whole thing worth it. There's also no multiplayer mode, which is a feature even the original Game Boy release of Tetris had. That's likely due to the fact that the Virtual Boy never got a link cable, but still. While V-Tetris isn't a bad game on the account that it's Tetris, it's rather lackluster as an overall product.

Word Count: 1,069

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