TetrisphereCan H20's puzzler re-define the way people think of the puzzle genre?
Two years ago, developer H2O planned to redefine the puzzle gaming genre with a Jaguar game called Tetrisphere. Luckily for us, the Jaguar expired before the game could be released and the folks at H2O decided to release it on the Nintendo 64. Originally slated to be one of the first games launched with the N64, Tetrisphere was held up repeatedly for gameplay tweaks. But the game has finally arrived and the wait has been worth it.
At its core, Tetrisphere is, of course, a Tetris game -- players drop pieces of various shape and color on or next to other pieces in an effort to remove said pieces from the playing area. This simple formula made Tetris extremely addictive, and H2O keeps that idea at the center of Tetrisphere's gameplay. Even so, this isn't your father's Tetris.
First off, the game take place on a three-dimensional sphere, hence the name. Players spin the sphere looking for suitable places to drop puzzle pieces in an effort to get to the center. Don't worry if the pieces on the sphere aren't arranged to your liking -- you can drag pieces around to set up a great drop. Drag fast though, because pieces are plentiful but time is not.
Tetrisphere also allows you to use "magic" in the game. By pulling off cool combos, you get magical items -- bottle rockets, dynamite, lasers and more -- that do major damage to the sphere.
Tetrisphere also excels as a whole package; the game doesn't just play well, it looks and sounds great, too. The 3D sphere is convincing and realistic, rotating smoothly and easily. A wide assortment of colors texture the sphere at any given moment, as well, adding to the mood of the game, which can often be almost psychedelic.
Where Tetrisphere is in a league all its own, though, is in the sound department. No other Nintendo 64 title even comes close to what H20 has accomplished here. Ever changing, crisp techno beats pound through each stage, and with variety and selection. If nothing else, Tetrisphere is proof that a CD isn't a requirement to experience a clear variety of good music in videogames.
There is a load of gameplay to be had in Tetrisphere with more than 300 levels to be beaten. Plus, you don't always have to play the same style of game. Single player options include rescue (tunnel to the center of the sphere), hide+seek (goal oriented tunneling), puzzle (logic games based on Tetrisphere game techniques) and vs CPU (play against the computer).
Two player mode should keep Tetrisphere fresh for a while as well. With plenty of options including which bricks are available and how deep the sphere is, you'll be kickin' your friends' butts for months.
Tetrisphere is a fun puzzler that almost anybody can quickly take a liking to. Puzzler fanatics, however, may want to steer clear of this game for fear of permanent addiction.