Video Game Thoughts: The New Tetris

The New Tetris was a 1999 puzzle game for the Nintendo 64 by H20 Entertainment. Before I got this game, the last Tetris game I had played was the old Game Boy version. The major Nintendo 64 release for Christmas ‘99 was Donkey Kong 64, but I wasn’t interested in it. I had rented it, but it just didn’t attract me. I always asked for a game for Christmas though, so I decided to settle for The New Tetris. I knew my mom would like it. I liked Tetris too, but puzzle games weren’t my favorite.

The New Tetris ended up being really good. It was probably the best Tetris game on a console until Tetris DS on the Nintendo DS in 2006, a full seven years later. The New Tetris was that good. The key component of this was this new silver and gold square system. Basically, the player could get huge bonus points and lines for making 4×4 squares. Each square required four carefully placed pieces. Squares made up of two or more types of pieces turned silver; squares made up of four of the same piece turned to gold. This was a totally new gameplay mechanic, not in any other Tetris game. The challenge wasn’t just to stay alive, but also to plan and form these squares while surviving.

There were three game modes: Marathon, Sprint, and Ultra. Marathon was the traditional mode. As the player cleared lines, the speed of the game went up until they could not keep up anymore. Sprint gave the player three minutes to clear as many lines as they could. Ultra required the player to clear 150 lines as fast as possible. All of these modes could be played in single player and multiplayer. My favorite was usually Marathon because it offered the most play time. At my best, I could probably play twenty minutes or so before losing. That was good because the Wonders took forever to unlock.

Wonders were another new thing not in other Tetris games. By clearing lines, the player collected “blocks” to constructed Wonders of the World. Some of them were not historical wonders, but they were still really cool. They had things like the Sphinx and St. Basil’s Cathedral (famous for being the towers shown on Tetris game start screens). Each one required a certain number of lines cleared by playing the game. The cathedral was the last one and required a ton of lines, probably a million or more. I tried playing and playing to unlock it but eventually gave up. My mother and I eventually got it after probably ten years of off and on playing though.

I had a blast playing The New Tetris. It really impressed me and still is my favorite Tetris game. The most convenient Tetris game for me these days may be Tetris Friends, but no other Tetris game occupied me for as long as The New Tetris. I played it for countless hours. Even the music was good. They had a lot more songs in this game than most Tetris games, and they weren’t repetitive. They were always interesting to listen to. The only bad thing I can say about this game is that the graphics for the Wonders weren’t the best, but that is so minor compared to all the other good things about this game.

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