Tetris Axis (3DS)

Game Review

Tetris Axis Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Egads! Tetrominos!

Tetris and handhelds go together like apples and cinnamon, and no more clear has this symbiotic relationship been than on Nintendo hardware, from the time Tetris first dropped like a well-placed I-block into Game Boys everywhere. Tetris DX followed with a splash of colour and tighter play on Game Boy Color, and the Nintendo-marinated Tetris DS is widely considered to be one of the, if not the best editions of the classic Russian puzzler. With such an illustrious legacy, can Tetris Axis on 3DS possibly hold up?

Tetris Axis bills itself as having over 20 modes split into Featured, Party, augmented reality and multiplayer, but after slicing out the more gimmicky ones and the ever-so-slightly modified double-ups you're left with a mere handful of options worth any significant time investment. Lesser modes such as Stage Race, where you navigate a tetronimo through an obstacle course, or Capture, where you attempt to line up specific blocks over glowing parts, are fun for the first round or two but rapidly fade in novelty. A few variations may hold your attention for a bit longer, like Bombliss in which lines only clear if they contain an explosive block, but save for one of these options nothing here holds much of a candle to the classic — or even the fewer but more inventive modes of Tetris DS.

Marathon is the bog-standard Tetris that the planet knows and loves, which is pretty difficult to screw up. Axis plays a mean game of the classic block dropper — it doesn't feel as if it has quite the same snap as Tetris DS but plays identical to every other Tetris game that came after. Now-standard mechanics like piece holding, ghost outlines and the laundry list of upcoming blocks are present as well as T-spins, which purists are just as easily able to ignore or turn off as novices are to use and benefit from.

Tapping into the wizardry of the 3DS, the two augmented reality modes work as advertised but feel somewhat inconsequential in the long run. AR Marathon is Tetris on your kitchen table up to 50 lines, which basically boils down to you awkwardly pointing the handheld at a table instead of playing the exact same mode comfortably. In AR Climber you stack Tetriminos on a cylindrical matrix in order to help a little dude climb to the top of line 50. This one does a better job of tapping in to what makes AR appealing by interacting with your surrounding: the cylinder is constantly sinking and you must physically circle it to line up steps. While it may impress on the first go, it's less complicated to just stick with the normal Climber for future play.

More substantial is Fever, a brand-new mode that is to Tetris what Blitz is to Bejeweled: a fast-paced score attack, great for when you don't have the time or desire to sink into a proper Marathon. In what is the most significant and fun new mode, the play field shrinks to six columns, there's one minute on the clock and a number of customizable power-ups litter the field. A mere pinch of power-ups are available from the start, and additional ones are unlocked by simply playing the mode or via SpotPass. Enabling a power-up costs in-game coins earned by playing or by uploading your score to the online leaderboards.

In fact, Axis is the most connected Tetris game to yet hit Nintendo consoles. The coin surge you get from uploading a Fever score is much more significant than just playing offline, and local, download and online battles against friends or ranked strangers across the globe provide potentially endless opposition. There's no voice chat support but a limited canned communication system allows you to at least ask the other person if they would like a rematch instead of dumping you back to the main menu. Computer battles will help you hone your skills before venturing online for a humbling, or if you're nowhere near wifi.

As this is Hudson's fifth edition of Tetris since Tetris Party hit WiiWare in 2008, the presentation feels very familiar and iterative — that is to say somewhat sterile, especially in comparison to Tetris DS's burst of 8-bit character. Cranking up the 3D slider doesn't affect gameplay much as the field is always front and centre, instead allowing unobtrusive background designs and small visual flourishes to take advantage of the added depth — only a handful of the more puzzle-y modes benefit from playing in 3D for enhanced perception.

Mii integration, meanwhile, plops you on the bottom screen, all decked out in stylish clothing and dancing like you've never danced before to a selection of classical Russian ditties like Swan Lake and Flight of the Bumblebee, as well as a version of the hallmark Tetris tune — it all sounds a little, well, cheesy and not very Tetris-like. And with all the options available to tinker with, there's no ability to play, or even navigate menus, with the Circle Pad — a few modes let you use it to swing the playing field around for alternative angles for the sole purpose of showing off 3D, but otherwise it is a strictly D-Pad affair.


Tetris Axis falls short of spectacular but still proves to be a worthwhile addition to the classic's illustrious handheld legacy with its expanded online component and oddly addictive Fever mode. Hudson wisely chooses to not reinvent the tetromino and instead provides a polished and accessible version of Russia's ultimate gaming export, even if the wrapper is a touch on the bland and disjointed side. Many of the modes may be flash and fluff, but the core game is as addictive and fun as ever and the overall package is compelling enough to consider over DSiWare's considerably cheaper Tetris Party Live.

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User Comments (58)



47drift said:

I would be interested in this game if it were Nintendo themed. Really, no Tetris after Tetris DS will ever grab my attention again without being its true successor.



daznsaz said:

im getting this because i havent bought a 3ds retail games in yonks.and it will be a welcome addition



AbuJaffer said:

It's not worth it, in my opinion. If this were a downloadable game I'd probably get it, but at full price it just can't hold up.



Highwinter said:

I'm not someone who believes in the iPhone vs handheld console argument, but this is one case where it makes sense.

When you can play games like this on your phone that literally cost pennies.. how can they justify something like this being a full priced game? The market has changed and they need to adapt to that.




Tetris Party WiiWare and DSiWare will suffice. Think the DS one is still the one to get imho. I'd still download this as 3DSware even if portioned.

Thanks good review.



misswliu81 said:

i was really intrigued in this game as i am tetris fanatic but as soon as i saw that hudson soft developed this game and not nintendo as i expected, i realised my expectations aren't as high as it was before.

it should've been developed by nintendo themselves. still, i think this one is worth purchasing if like me, you like puzzle games, but it's definitely not worth that full RRP.



shingi_70 said:

Will Pick up when it hits cheap? pretty sure this wont become a Tetris DS situation.



K964 said:

is it full price in Europe? In America its 3/4 the usual price.



daznsaz said:

at the minute you can get it online for £18 and i havent shopped around.so think thats a good starting price★



chiefeagle02 said:

I was expecting at least an 8 from NintendoLife, though a 7 is still okay. Don't know if I'll buy this as I already have Tetris Party Live on my DSi XL, though I wouldn't be against getting this as a gift.



StephenYap3 said:

I got it and forgive me, Tetris fans, but I'm going to have to agree with the 7 out of 10 in this review. I only got it because I thought the game would be good, but now that I got it, I thought wrong. I really hope Hudson moves on to reviving Bomberman 3DS since their Tetris game doesn't pull up too well. If you want a Tetris game to have on your 3DS, then this game should be worth the $30. Everybody else, no.



XCWarrior said:

Wow, 15 comments in and you'd swear this game was a 1/10 the way people are talking. A 7 is not a bad score at all. I'm considering picking this up since Target is offering a $10 gift card this week. My buddy bought it yesterday, I'll ask him since clearly here is a bunch of Negative Neds who clearly want no reasons to pick up a 3DS.



bofis said:

I ran out and bought this game after much deliberation, since TetrisDS is so great, how could this beat it? Well the simple answer is, IT DOESN'T! The Vs. CPU is too easy, I've beaten LVL10 every time, and in Tetris DS Lvl 5 is almost impossible and lvl4 provides a great challenge. The ability to change music/background is nice, but the 3DS cart does not even save your settings, so you have to disable items each and every time. Also it takes too long to load and menus are slow and deep so you have to go through many to get to where you are trying to go. I wish I could return Tetris Axis and plan to just go back to enjoying Tetris DS on my 3DS with it's ability to do 10 players with one cart and play with all DSs and 3DSs.



yoyogamer said:

I know Tetris DS is Amazing and all, but finding a copy these days is next to impossible! I guess I'll just stick to Tetris Party live.



FonistofCruxis said:

I like Tetris but not enough to get a Tetris game at retail so as its not 3DSware, I won't be getting this.



Cengoku said:

Why to do 20 different modes while you can do just 6 modes and realize a better game? That is to say... After playing and learning a lot of DS(i) puzzle games, Tetris has no more appeal for me.



Kyloctopus said:

I'm a giant fan of Tetris, Tetris Party Deluxe was too expensive, yet I still bought it for spme reason. This has a couple more modes than deluxe, and it will probably be more popular than deluxe, so it will have better wifi.



Mr_Reece said:

@yoyogamer - finding Tetris DS is hard enough. Finding one that isn't extortionately priced is nigh on impossible. Personally, I've no interest in Tetris Axis. If there's one version I want, it's the DS one. Anything that's Nintendo-themed is "ftw" in my book



TKOWL said:

Maybe if this was released a couple of months earlier, I would've bought it. But due to the mass amount of games coming out soon, I'll have to skip out on a game I already have three copies of on other consoles.



iphys said:

@bofis — there is a level 11 CPU, although I think it still might be easier than the level 5 CPU on Tetris DS. Overall, I think this is a better game than Tetris DS though because you can move the pieces faster, there's no infinite spin, you can do spins for pieces other than T, you get more modes, and there are so many options for the appearance and music.



Sam_Loser2 said:

I said I was going to get this as long as it got a 7 or higher, so now I know it isn't disgracing the good tetris name, I'll get it so I can have some online play. Maybe God will grace me with a used copy.



sykotek said:

Picked this up earlier in the week at Target. It was $29.99 and came with a $10 gift card. Best deal around at the moment.



Supremeist said:

I was expecting a bit more.. I'm still getting it though, I don't think the review mentioned that this game is only $30. Great deal! Tetris Party Live just isn't cutting it for me anymore, I want Tetris in 3D!



timp29 said:

Interesting. Expected better. Probably the best value game I have ever bought in my life was Tetris Party on WiiWare. I still see the occasional Tetris DS in stores around Australia... but always full price. Will have to buy that instead if I can find it for a reasonable price



HandheldGuru97 said:

I have never personally owned a Tetris game, so I will probably pick this up sometime after my birthday in November.



Teh-Ray said:

You know, after how cool it was to have Tetris DS Nintendo themed, you'd think other companies would follow suit.

Come on, now, how cool would it have been to actually have some sort of Bomberman mode?

I'm just glad I'm not the only one who thinks Tetris DS is the best version due to its Nintendo theme.

That said, if this is available for really cheap, I'll get it.



Tare said:

I'd advise people to get this when it comes down to 30$ :/
It's not a bad game by any stretch, in fact it's good. But not good enough to justify the 40$ proce tag they slapped on it. I feel a little ripped off.

Still, helps pass the times on the road and such very well.



warioswoods said:

Count me amongst the Tetris DS fans.

That's the absurd nature of some of these franchises: every time new hardware pops up, someone snags the license and tries to cash in on remaking it for the new system. However, they forget one thing: if it doesn't exceed the past iterations of the game, its existence simply isn't justified.

Yeah, this is Tetris--on the 3DS!--but it looks like a huge step back from Tetris DS, so why bother making this game in the first place? I hate games that created simply to cash in on a new system. It's not enough to bring an old game to new hardware: you have to make that new hardware count, make the game take on an entirely new feel and quality due to the new capabilities. They tried an AR mode here, but it looks dull. Tetris DS made clever use of the dual screens, touch controls, and more to justify its existence as a new coming of Tetris, and added some ideas (push mode!) that were a huge step forward for the franchise. This one, not so much. So why bother?



ecco6t9 said:

This one is not too bad, but like the reviews say "It lacks that extra Nintendo polish."

And very few puzzle games work with touch screens only, Tetris is one where you need buttons.



LittleIrves said:

Never played Tetris DS, but am aware of its reputation... want to try it, although have a feeling I'll be underwhelmed? Nintendo-theme is cool, but does it really make the "game" better?
Not sold on Axis. Personally, I'm crossing my fingers for a 3DSWare Tetrisphere remake.



warioswoods said:

Tetris DS is known for its style, sure, but also for its unique gameplay modes, and for how those interact with the retro styling. The Nintendo themes aren't static, they actually change and follow the gameplay; mission mode, for example, has changing Zelda scenes on the top screen as you progress, making it feel like each mission really means defeating a classic Zelda enemy.

Just one more example, my favorite of many modes: Push Mode is, in my mind, the greatest Tetris innovation since the franchise began, and you can only play it in Tetris DS (with awesome Donkey Kong v. Mario art framing it). It completely changes the strategy of 2-player Tetris and makes it a frantic yet complex kind of competition, with excellent AI if you don't want to go online.



TheN64Dude said:

It's very difficult not using the cicle pad (which I found out yesterday) I think I might take it back...



rachelthehedgehog said:

Hmm...Good review, I really wanna pick this one up! The game is only $30 and it has more modes than Tetris Party Live. And its in 3D!!



MeloMan said:

There's always room for Tetris and I'm glad to hear it's a worthy purchase over the DSiWare Tetris (which I've played to death).



NintendoKoopai said:

I personally like this game a lot. A lot of "gamers" now a days are just 5th graders who kill 10 people in CoD and get killed 30 times. I am not afraid to say that I am a Tetris master, as it was my first game ever (on the Gameboy)



grumblegrumble said:

Wow. I think you guys are being way too harsh on this one. I am a huge puzzle lover so I may be more biased than some, I admit, and I have played a LOT of Tetris in my life, on every Nintendo system ever made, in every form imaginable. I consider myself a pretty big Tetris fan. While I do love Tetris DS, I AM IN LOVE WITH TETRIS: AXIS. I think it has the perfect combination of challenge, fun, replay value, graphics, sound and design. I'm also a classical music lover so I love the music in the game. It ranges from good old fashioned Tetris theme to classical music, which is a great thing as far as I'm concerned. (Someone mentioned the music was blah so I wanted to set the record straight.) I think this game is magnificent in every conceivable way. The various modes are much appreciated and yes, some are more fun than others, I'll give you that. But if you LOVE Tetris, you will love this game. It's amazing in 3-D, too, and I appreciate all the effort and love that was put into this game. I give this one a 9/10. Because there is always room for improvement, but this game is pretty near perfect IMHO. 'Nuff said. (and Thank You, Nintendo. I love this!)



XCWarrior said:

I concure with @grumblegrumble. Picked up Tetris Axis, it is a ton of fun. I am liking all the party modes, different varieties of Tetris to keep it fresh. Only wish there would have been a sphere mode like Tetrisphere. But with online play and online leaderboards, this is worth a pick up.



Supremeist said:

After playing my sisters copy for an hour, I have to say that it is great. Good variety of modes, and I love the backgrounds. The thing that really shines too me is that you can play with 8 players locally with one game cart. So I can enjoy this game with my sister without having to purchase it.. which is great. If you are a fan of Tetris, this is worth it. If not, then no. The only disappointments I've had so far are they haven't added a special control that actually uses the circle pad comfortably, and the AR Modes aren't as special as they looked.



HawkeyeWii said:

Fantastic game! Deserves at least an 8.5. One of the most addictive games i've ever played. I have played just about every single Tetris game and this is by far the best improving one every aspect of others.



Pichuka97 said:

Just picked it up and it's good but the next Tetris better be a follow up to Tetris DS.



clavier141 said:

Think I may get it when it's on the eshop. One of the few games that might actually be cheaper to download. £8.99 on the eshop but I could only find around £10 new on the shopping websites.



SonicTheBluBlur said:

@DarkEdi Even though a lot of people would love that, I don't think Nintendo would bring Virtual Boy games to Virtual Console (of course that's what Victoria Justice, who actually is my girlfriend, said about the NES, but she was wrong about that)!

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