Overall Rating: 5/5
For every flagship character, there follows a franchise of games. Usually there will be a few in the typical, canonical series of similar adventure games; but, like anything else, if the property is profitable, it will branch out into other product lines. In the case of video games, popular characters always end up starring in a puzzle game after a few sequels. Examples include Mario in the stacking game Yoshi (interestingly enough), Sonic in the sleeper hit Dr. Robotnik’s Mean Bean Machine, Wario in the odd Wario’s Woods, and others.
Along came Yoshi, and his smash-hit appearance in Super Mario World, then his own wildly successful turn in Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island. These successes practically demanded that he generate his own puzzle game; lo and behold, that game arrived for the Super Nintendo home console system, and it was called Tetris Attack, and it was awesome.
There is a story mode (several different modes, actually), but the play primarily revolves (no pun intended) around rotating differently colored-and-shaped blocks until they meet three in a row, at which time they are eliminated, allowing other blocks to fall. If you rotate in such a way as to cause four or five to connect, it is a bonus; and if you eliminate blocks in such a way that the resulting falling blocks cause more connections, this creates chain reactions, which are potentially very high-scoring.
This style, though, allows the player to dictate the pace: Rather than wait for pieces, such as in Tetris, the player is in complete control of deciding how and when blocks are introduced and eliminated. If you sit back and do nothing, the blocks will slowly rise until your demise, but otherwise, you’re in the driver’s seat for this one.
Colorful, whimsical, and delightful, the game stars newly animated renditions of classics Yoshi’s Island characters (such as Raphael the Raven and the lovable dog friend), crisp action across all boards, and even carefully rendered background worlds. The entire experience is presented in a likable, dream-like feel, with massively enjoyable results.
Perhaps a little repetitive after a long session of frenzied play, but notable for each selectable character having their own background music to accompany their play, or different levels in the one-player modes. The effects are perfect and pop in quick tempo, and each character has various taunt noises or phrases they say when they perform a combo or chain.
Creativity and Innovation
The true strength of this game is the two-player mode, which is perfect in its scope, pacing, mechanics, and presentation. There is a profoundly ingenious idea at work called garbage blocks which are big chunks of pieces you have to get rid of lest you die, launched at the opponent whenever you complete a chain or combo, and their size depends on the size or length of your chain or combo. This adds an inherently frenetic, personal touch, causing a dizzyingly addictive gameplay experience in two-player mode that is hard to pry away from. Much like Tetris, the music hits a faster pacing when the play is close, only adding to the boiler room-type atmosphere of the contest.
The power of this game is hard to express in words, but the fact is, the two-player mode is probably the all-time best and most well-done of any puzzle game of all time. That mode alone firmly earns five stars out of five for this outstanding title.