First Impressions: Are? DS ga Sakasa Desu Kedo. Sakasa Drops
Posted by Sean Aaron
A refreshing spin on the classic Tetris concept
Sakasa Drops is the second DSiWare effort from Tecmo and like Gyaku Shooting is played holding your DSi upside down with the touchscreen up top. It's a novel gimmick that literally conveys the fact that the tables are being turned on some familiar gameplay.
This game most strongly echoes the classic puzzle game Tetris with a couple of twists: players are dropping shapes from above (which they create by tapping squares on a grid in what is now the "top" screen) onto lines rising up from the bottom of the "lower" screen that need to be cleared before they hit a barrier at the top of that display.
At first this novel mechanic appears to remove any challenge from the game (after all, there's little chance of getting a shape you can't use), but for a few factors: your shape must be composed of contiguous blocks and it cannot span the entire screen. At the same time lines are added at the bottom every two or three seconds, so you don't have a lot of time to make overly complicated shapes before pressing either D-Pad or buttons to drop them. As with Tetris, if you don't complete a line the blocks get stacked, though clearing lower lines will cause blocks to drop allowing for the creation of combos. You do have a bit of ghosting in the lower screen to show you where your blocks will end up and once you get the hang of things you can create shapes more quickly by "drawing" them; using the stylus like a pen to link up your blocks. If you make a mistake you can tap a square again to erase it, but given there's only seven lines in the playfield you won't be able to make too many of those if you want a decent score (which is naturally recorded in a ranking table you can show off to nearby friends - if you're sad enough).
Every time you manage to clear the screen the game level will increase and with it the speed at which new lines appear and the number of gaps that need filling. It becomes challenging rather quickly and is actually a pretty clever spin on an oft-imitated classic game. There are two modes on offer: the Endless Mode just described and Puzzle Mode, which presents you with 30 levels of fixed lines that need clearing within a limited number of drops. You have five unlocked initially; once you complete the fifth one you unlock the next five and so on. They aren't too tough to start with, but later levels require some good foresight and planning of combos in order to successfully clear the screen.
For 200 points you end up with a pretty novel puzzle game that will earn a deserved place in any puzzle fan's rotation. Whilst we don't have any confirmation on the release of this or Tecmo's other DSiWare title outside of Japan, given their past track record with Wii downloads we think gamers in Europe and North America have a good chance of seeing it eventually.