Little history about me, I've always loved Tetris. My first memory of it is on the very original Gameboy, and then playing Tengen Tetris on NES. On the DS Tetris DS remains in many people's Top 10 DS games ever created, but often with some equivocation. Take me, for example, I think Tetris DS is one of the best DS games ever made for the wonderful little handheld, but it doesn't rank that high in my favorite Tetris games of all time. Why? The infinite spin. And by infinite I mean infinite. You can literally spin the pieces forever. That change in gameplay alone angered me (as a Tetris fan), but the sheer number of alternative modes of gameplay in the original made up for it. So enough about that. You get it, Tetris DS was great, but Nintendo lost the rights to continue producing it so now its a collectors item of sorts.
Well, if you don't own Tetris DS, Tetris Party Deluxe DS is a great reason to justify NOT spending 80-100 bucks in search of used copy of Tetris DS (and avoid the risk of being duped into buying an illegal copy). Is Tetris Party so good I'll ebay my used copy of Tetris DS? Nope. Here's the short and sweet of it: There's enough difference between the two games that it justifies owning and playing both. The core gameplay of both titles is tight. The controls are nearly identical, in other words perfect for the game. And Tetris Party's Marathon mode does NOT allow you to spin infinitely. Yes, you can spin for about 5 seconds before finally placing it, but take too long and the game simply drops the piece down where it currently is. I love the change. Others may not, however. But remember, my favorite version of Tetris had no infinite spins, only showed you 1 upcoming piece and NEVER let you save a piece in reserve to be used later.
In the modes that Tetris DS and TPD share, they're both top notch. The main differences come in the way of background music and graphical backgrounds. Tetris DS employed a Nintendo's Greatest Hits approach. Metroid background, Yoshi, Mario...you get the idea. If you love Nintendo, you'll love that. And I do! TPD is more stale, but also more in line with the original (with the Russian music etc). TPD lets you set music per level or turn it off completely, and allows you to select from about 20 or so backgrounds. Honestly though, when you're into a game the last thing you notice is the music or the backgrounds unless they're intrusive. I definitely prefer the Mario approach, but there's nothing at all wrong with TPD. Both games utilize a gameplay area of roughly the same size, with future pieces lined up along the sides. In both games you get Marathon mode, and they're similar but different, but both very good.
Where TPD really shines for me is in all the record keeping it does. If you love improving your scores and times, TPD gives you reason to do it. You see the best time displayed and the best score where applicable and then its up to you to just go for it. I haven't played the "Party" aspect of the game though, so don't look to this review to cover the multiplayer options. I'm speaking solely about single player. Yes, Im aware PARTY is in the title, but for me its been a party of one and I'm enjoying it!
Again, what truly differentiates this game and Tetris DS are the extra modes. There isn't a single extra mode in this game that I haven't enjoyed a ton, whereas Tetris DS had a couple I couldn't stand (push!). Bombliss (your tetris pieces have a bomb embedded in them that go off when a line they're in is filled or another bomb near it goes off. Place 4 of these pieces in the form of a square and they merge into a giant bomb that takes out even more pieces). Speed mode is just what it sounds like - how fast can you clear 40 lines. Stage Climber has a little guy on the bottom of the playfield, and he can hop up 1 block at a time, so its up to you to drop pieces in such a way that it builds a ladder of sorts to the top of the level. Shadow mode puts a picture on the screen and asks you to place pieces inside of it until its completely filled like a puzzle. You're graded on time and what percentage of pieces fell outside of the picture's area. There's a beat the computer mode, which starts off easy enough but gets insanely difficult quickly. Perhaps too quickly. Tetris DS has the same mode and it ramps up the difficulty more steadily. One of my other favorite new modes is one where you control a single Tetris piece as it falls down a 400 line playfield. Coming up at you are lines that you must fit your piece through as it falls. You can simply let it fall and slowly work your way around all the obstacles, or you can hold down on the dpad and speed your way through. You're graded on the time it takes you to get to the bottom, so the emphasis here is on speed and precision.
Anyway, to wrap this up I highly recommend this game to anyone that already owns Tetris DS and simply wants more Tetris, but moreso I recommend this game to anyone that really loves Tetris but was unfortunate enough to have missed out on Tetris DS. I apologize for not reviewing the multiplayer aspects of the game, but my wife is simply terrible at the game and has a nasty temper when she plays games, and I'd like my DSi XL to remain in one piece. I cant get the game to run online because Nintendo is still in the dark ages with the networking encryption methods it supports on the DS and my router simply uses encryption that's too strong for the DS to handle. In order to run DS games online you have to set your router to no encryption or simply use the lowest encryption method.