Magical Tetris Challenge
It's magical. It's challenging. It could only be Tragical Tetris Challenge?
Disney Corporate Headquarters: Crisis Meeting
First Executive: Damn, we've got a problem! Thanks to government cutbacks the cost of cryogenics has just gone up!
Second Executive: So?
First: So I've just had the cryo lab on the phone and if we don't find about $10 million immediately, Walt's head is gonna be thawed out and sent back! SECOND: Oh yeah, Disney's frozen head. Sorry, kind of forgot about it...
First: Everyone's tried to forget about it! I mean, it's just embarrassing! And the last thing I want is to open my mail one morning to find someone's FedExed me a defrosting severed head!
Second: Right, so we need cash, fast. How about we open another amusement park somewhere?
First: No, no, no. Remember what happened with EuroDisney... er, I mean Disneyland Paris.
Second: Okay... um... got it! We'll release a videogame!
First: But won't that cost a lot to develop?
Second: Nah, we'll just get Capcom to take a game that's already successful and stick a few Disney characters in it. Like, I don't know... Tetris?
First: Tetris! No one's going to pay huge wedges of cash for a game like that. It's been around for years!
Second: Ah, no, because you see this is the cunning bit. We put a small meter at one side of the screen, add a few different shaped blocks and call it Magical Tetris Challenge.
First: Hmm... Magical... Tetris... Challenge... Brilliant! Let's do it!
Heads You lose?
And that's how it happened. Probably. Well we'd like to think so.
Magical Tetris Challenge is - rather obviously - another Tetris clone, albeit with a few small innovations. One difference is that rather than playing solo, you play split-screen against an opponent - just like the original Game Boy link-up mode. Capcom has also attempted to add something to the basic gameplay. There's the magic meter, for example. This fills up every time you clear a single line and when it reaches the top it wipes out all the blocks above the level of the meter, thus giving you a few seconds of breathing space.
The biggest innovation is the inclusion of some new shapes for the blocks ranging from small to so-big-it's-ridiculous! When playing in Magical Tetris mode, if you get more than one line at a time, 'magical' energy is sent to your opponent's screen and causes one of these annoying new blocks to appear.
In addition to Magical Tetris mode, there is also an Updown Tetris mode (which is two-player Tetris without the new blocks) and also Endless Tetris mode, which is normal Tetris with no opponents.
Taking The Mickey?
This is a fair attempt at a variation on Tetris with bright, colourful graphics. Judging by the dialogue in Story mode (which is, frankly, excruciating) this game must be aimed at a fairly young age group and in truth it won't hold older audiences' attention very long. Once you've got over the surprise of the differently shaped and sized new blocks, the Magical Tetris mode becomes fairly boring and even frustrating as larger and larger blocks get dumped on your screen. About the only thing to really recommend this game is the two-player head-to-head mode, but as there's a four-player version of Tetris due for release later this year, you'd be far better off waiting for that.
To be fair, this is the first version of 2-D Tetris on the N64, which must count for something, but then perhaps the reason that it's never come out on the N64 is that it isn't needed.
Don't misunderstand us, Tetris is an excellent game, but to pay 60 quid for it - which could also buy you a Game Boy Pocket with the original (and best) version of Tetris and still leave enough cash left over for about a five year supply of batteries - well, there's just no contest!
2nd rating opinion
So for this, we've been denied N64 Street Fighter and Resident Evil? The hell? Yes, Tetris is still an addictive game, but it's hardly something people were crying out for. The new, oddly-shaped blocks also screw with the classic gameplay. Sacrilege!
Download Magical Tetris Challenge
OK, so maybe it's not Street Fighter III or Resident Evil 64, but you have to admit--it's nice to have Capcom finally making N64 games. Their debut title may be a bit of an odd choice, but puzzle fans will be delighted to know that Magical Tetris Challenge is definitely one of the better home conversions of Tetris.
Magical Tetris Challenge features three modes of play, two of which are accompanied by a Story Mode that features Disney characters and a relatively cheesy, made-for-kids story that unfolds as you progress from stage to stage. The three Modes are: Magical Tetris (an all-new version of Tetris), Updown Tetris (the classic version that we've all played a zillion times) and Endless Mode (Magical Tetris or Updown Tetris without the Story Mode attached).
There are a few unique gameplay features that differentiate Magical Tetris from classic Tetris. First up are the new Magic Pieces. Whenever you clear two or more lines, that number of Magic Pieces are sent to your opponent's playfield. They get stored on top of the playfield, and fall down in place of normal blocks. Since they come in all-new odd shapes and sizes, they can really cause trouble if not placed properly. If you have Magic Pieces waiting to be dropped on your field, you can counter them by clearing lines on your side. This sends them back to your opponent's field, only bigger. You can counter blocks back and forth until they grow to huge 5x5 blocks--then, whoever gets the 5x5 pieces is stuck with 'em (uh oh). You can also score major points for "doubling up," which is basically clearing two or more lines several times in a row. It's like a reward for unleashing combo attacks.
There's also a new Magic Meter that builds up as you clear lines or when your opponent attacks you. Once the meter fills up, your playfield clears to become even with the height of the meter (the meter grows each time you clear it). Even better, you're left with a vertical line to get you set for a big comeback.
Finally, there's the new Temporary Landing System (T.L.S.). Designed by Arika (the Street Fighter EX folks), T.L.S. allows you to see where your block will fall before you drop it. As simple as it sounds, it's extremely useful-it's a wonder nobody thought of this feature sooner. Of course, Tetris purists can turn the T.L.S. off if they wish.
Magical Tetris Challenge supports the Rumble Pak and is due out in January. If you're a Tetris fan (and who isn't?), watch for it.
Surprise! Capcom's debut N64 title isn't a hardcore brawler or a zombie-infested adventure, but a Disney-themed Tetris puzzler. Although it injects new life into die steadily fading Tetris formula, the youth-oriented Magical Tetris Challenge probably won't appeal to most post-adolescent gamers.
MICKEY DOES TETRIS?
The uninspired story has Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy investigating the origin of a mysterious glowing rock.. .whatever. When it comes to gameplay, competitive Tetris matches are the focus of the Stoiy mode, but Endless Tern's and Updown games are available to those who wish to play traditional versions of the brainteaser. An engaging and fast-paced two-player mode rounds out the puzzle package.
While admittedly a glossed-over update of the original, Tetris Challenge does add a handful of unique features. New shapes, block-clearing magic spells, and the useful "temporary landing system," which casts guiding shadows under falling blocks, are welcome additions to the tired Tetris gameplay.
Clearly not a blue-ribbon example of the N64s graphical prowess, Tetris Challenge still gets the job done with simple, pleasing visuals and detailed, often humorous character animations. The controls are tight and responsive, while the button layout is intuitive. The appropriately cartoonish sound effects and music aren't going to win awards, but the real offense here is the complete lack of character voices.
For older Disney and Tetris addicts. Magical Tetris Challenge is a blessing in disguise. Ironically, the merciless computer player will frustrate younger kids. Curious gamers, however, will be satisfied with a quick weekend rental.
- Stagger your block arrangement enough so that you can rapidly clear single lines of blocks as combos.
- If the end Is near, try to clear a few lines and charge your magic meter. A fully charged meter will clear most of the offending blocks.
- When playing against the computer, try to wait out the storm. Playing like a speed demon will rack up points, but will also raise your opponent's magic bar.