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Well this is quite a hard game to explain, and quite a hard game to play at first. But i'll have a go at it.
Basically its like Tetris, but in a Sphere. There you go.
You need to match up coloured blocks next to each other, when coloured blocks are aligned together they will cause a chain reaction that will cause the blocks to explode revealing the layer underneath. The overall objective of the game is to uncover whatever it is at the heart of the sphere, doing so by exploding coloured blocks by chaining them. As the levels progress, there will be more and more layers to get through in order to finish, the pressure is also increased by the fact that you have a timer in which to complete the puzzle.
There are a couple of game modes, both of which are essentially the same, with a few minor alterations. There is also a 2 player vs. mode available, were both players battle it out to uncover their sphere first.
Really this is quite a good game, despite there being a lack of game modes and variation within the game. It will keep you busy for an hour or 2, depending on how long you last. But once you've played it, you probably won't want to play it again for a while.
Despite the console being in its final, gasping, terminal stages of consumability, new games for the Nintendo 64 are still absurdly expensive. However, anyone seeking additional video game thrills on the console before its imminent expiry would do well to pop along to their local second-hand games retailer, and pick up some of the console's older titles for great prices. Many pre-owned games are available to buy for less than £15. For example, Nintendo's 'Tetrisphere', originally released in 1998, is widely available in second-hand video game retailers for just £10. It's quite a fun game, loosely based on the classic block-dropping puzzle game, 'Tetris'. HOW TO PLAY Where 'Tetrisphere' differs from 'Tetris' is that the player drops blocks onto a sphere of blocks, with the aim of removing blocks from layers of the sphere, so as to create a hole by which the trapped creatures inside the sphere can escape. The way that the player removes blocks, however, is less obviously self-explanatory as that in 'Tetris'. The player views the sphere from the point of view of each dropping block, and can tell its shape from its shadow. Where the challenge of 'Tetris' came from simply turning and moving the falling block, 'Tetrisphere' removes the option of turning the block on the way down, while adding the option of allowing you to move some of the blocks already in the sphere. Sound confusing? Well, it is. It's one of those things best explained by playing the game, but I'll do my best to explain. Basically, you can move pieces already in the sphere that are the same shape as the dropping piece that you are controlling. By doing this, you can arrange similarly shaped pieces so that they line up. If more than three similarly shaped pieces are lined up when you drop the falling block, then those pieces are removed. Oh, and you do have to drop the falling block
211; simply letting it drop slowly into place wastes time, and will cost you a life. Yes, in 'Tetrisphere' you have lives – three per level, in fact – which are lost by either dropping a piece in a way which does not result in the removal of pieces, or by dithering too long before letting the falling piece drop. As if this weren't enough, 'Tetrisphere' introduces various magic powers – awarded to players who manage to remove 20 pieces from the sphere in a single drop. All of the magic powers, when used, essentially serve to accelerate the speed at which the player reaches the centre of the sphere by destroying or blowing away pieces. So, basically, 'Tetrisphere' is far more of a conventional arcade game than 'Tetris'. It has more obvious, discrete levels – completed by the release of creatures trapped within the sphere. The 'Tetrisphere' game design of lends itself far better to variations on basic gaming, and several of these are included with the N64 game. FEATURES There are five different ways to play as a single player. The first of these is the basic 'Rescue' style of gaming, as detailed above. There are 100 stages; 10 groups of 10 levels, of increasingly difficulty – measured in terms of number of types of pieces in the sphere, speed of gameplay, and so on. The second mode of single player gaming, 'Hide & Seek', adds a bit of variety to the game. There are 30 basic levels per episode, each of which requires the player to complete a sphere in a different way. Every fifth level is a standard 'Rescue' mission, but others involve trying to move an external unremovable brick to the centre of the sphere by removing blocks underneath it, or searching for a hidden picture on the surface of a sphere beneath the blocks. There's a nice degree of variety to the challenges in the 'Hide & Seek' mode of gameplay,
which makes it easy to lose track of time while playing! The third mode of single player gaming in 'Tetrisphere', is the 'Puzzle' mode, in which you have to complete 100 increasingly difficult puzzles. Each puzzle presents you with a collection of pieces, and a limited number of piece drops and piece moves, which you must use to clear all the pieces from the sphere. There's a nice learning curve here, and while the puzzles do get quite frustrating, you can eventually figure each out by spending enough time on it. The fourth mode of gaming is 'Time Trial', in which your aim is to get the highest score you possibly can in five minutes of playing 'Rescue' levels. Completing a sphere, by releasing the trapped creature, moves you on to a new one – but this isn't necessarily the best way to get a high score. When you run out of time, you're presented with a statistic-filled screen reporting on your performance, so you can compare it to previous or future efforts. The final mode of single player play is 'Vs CPU', in which you race a series of computer players, head-to-head, to release creatures trapped in identical spheres. The game is made slightly more exciting by the introduction of 'dark pieces', which are sent to your opponent when you remove more than four pieces in one move. These dark pieces are not removed when identically shaped pieces are dropped onto them, but can be used as part of a combo. Your progress through the levels in all (except the 'Time Trial') single player modes is stored automatically in the memory of the game unit, and data can be stored on the unit for eight different users of the game. The game also comes with a two-player 'Vs' mode, identical in terms of appearance to the 'Vs CPU' mode, and which includes the 'dark pieces'. There is also a training mode, which introduces all the rules of the g
ame in a painfully patronising and tedious way, which will have you hammering the "A" button to skip through it faster. A practice mode allows you to practice playing the game, and offers you the option to change which piece shapes are present on the sphere, how many layers of pieces there are, and how large the sphere is. Once you've mastered the game, however, you're unlikely to use this feature. PRESENTATION Presentation is very nice. Obviously, as the game comes on a cartridge, loading times are negligible, which makes it disturbingly easy to decide to have "just one more game". Menus are nicely presented, and accompanied by Wipeout-esque techno music, which has been impressively sampled, given the relatively small storage capacity of a N64 cartridge. There are thirteen audio tracks which are, by default, randomly selected from during each level of the game. During gameplay, the screen does have a tendency to look quite cluttered, especially as the falling piece approaches the sphere, however, once you've got used to it, it's not so much of a problem. Like all N64 games, graphics are heavily anti-aliased (i.e. hard edges where pixels of different colours meet are reduced by blending intermediate pixels) which gives the game a slightly blurry look. THOUGHTS Well, having played numerous three-dimensional 'Tetris' clones, this is definitely one of the better ones. Most three-dimensional versions of the game involve the dropping of the standard 'Tetris' pieces into a well, but this necessitates controls for rotating pieces through three different axes – difficult to implement on a standard console joypad! In essence, 'Tetrisphere' is just a variant of two-dimensional 'Tetris' – the pieces are dropped onto a two-dimensional surface, which has been wrapped around a sphere... There's no option to rotate the pieces into and out of th
e sphere, for example. Having said that, the game does work quite well, once you've got used to it – and it does take a bit of getting used to! The main problem with the game though is one of perspective. If you've got several layers on an individual sphere, and have cut a hole through several of them, it can often be difficult to judge where your falling block will drop – will it get caught on overhanging pieces on outer layers, or drop through to the centre, where you want it? Admittedly, the game makes efforts to prevent the player being confused – the piece always drops a shadow directly downward onto the sphere – but in the heat of the game, it's easy to make a mistake. Some of the spheres are actually much larger than the on-screen portion suggests, which I found quite misleading. During gameplay, it appears that you can see half of the game sphere, however, in actuality, you're probably seeing a lot less than that. This, I found, to be extremely frustrating, as it means that scrolling all the way around the sphere takes more time than it looks like it will – a major inconvenience in a game where time is of such importance! Also, at times the game can become quite temperamental about which pieces you can move on the sphere's surface, and where you can put them. I found that rearranging pieces was less easy than the game's manual suggested it would be – particularly with a many-layered sphere. CONCLUSIONS 'Tetrisphere' is a nicely-realised puzzle game, with some great features. It doesn't have great lastability, certainly not in the way 'Tetris' does – and I think this is owing to its use of discrete levels, rather than continuous play. Loading times are great, graphics are up to the usual N64 standard (and damn good for a puzzle game) and even the game's music is quite tolerable. There are a few niggling problems with the prese
ntation of the game, which make it more frustrating to play than it ought to be, however. For £10, you can't go far wrong if you like puzzle games. The two-player mode is quite fun, and there's a good collection of different challenges for the single-player. It's unlikely that you'll play the single-player modes much once you've completed the 'Rescue', 'Hide & Seek' and 'Puzzle' modes (or at least, as far as you can actually get in each of those modes), or use the 'Vs CPU' mode, once you've defeated all of the levels of computer opponent. But these should easily take you long enough to justify the game's cost.
Every platform needs at least one Tertris clone and Tetrispheres was the first on the N64. Like tetris you need to destroy the blocks and not allow them to build up to high. Unlike tetris you're firing these boxs at the surface of a sphere which you are free to rotate. If you group together blocks of the same type they will explode off the sphere, if not they will build up on the surface. So as with ordinary Tertris you want to group together the blocks and avoid staking up too many. To win you must remove enough blocks to expose the core of the sphere. The game is pretty good fun, much in the same way that Tetris is. It takes a little while to get into it mainly because of the need to rotate the sphere to find sets of blocks. Chances are at first if you do get past a level it'll be through plain luck. The 3D aspect of the game is well used, it adds a new kind of consideration to the tetris game, you need to balance speed against optimally placing a block on the sphere, but you can't see all of the sphere at once. Graphics are clear and relatively simple, they don't distract from gameplay which is the main thing. The most fun this title offers is through the competitive mode. Using a split screen you and a friend can battle it out to strip their sphere first. As you remove blocks from your sphere they get sent to your opponent. Things rapidly get frantic as you both struggle to clear the rapidly arriving blocks. Tetrisphere is a solid puzzle game title with good multiplayer options. It isn't an outstanding game by far, but is worth considering if you're looking for a puzzle game for your N64. It's getting quite old now so it's the sort of title to look for in a second hand game shop.