Tetris DS

Non-narrative games present the player with a series of choices. These choices can lead them to success, like solving a confused situation as in Freecell or maintaining a certain status quo as in Tetris. They can also lead to a state of failure, where the game becomes interrupted by an impassable situation.

This finality in play separates games from literature. Players can easily restart games, very rarely in literature does a reader have to restart in order to proceed. This would only occur if the reader failed to understand what was going on. This would represent a failure on the part of the author, and therefore not genuinely a part of the reading experience. Conversely, such an impasse in a game is not always the fault of the game’s creators.

So what?

Tetris is unique because progression through it is ideally perpetual. Even though in the DS version of the game, a score of 99,999,999 will cause a lock up and not allow you to proceed, the superlative game is one which has no conceivable end. Therein lies the challenge for Tetris. Games like this are experiential, the player’s role becomes that of the main character. The challenge that you face playing the game represents the interest normally placed on those obstacles facing a primary character.

Paging Dr. Schwartz

Tetris is an exercise in obsessive compulsive ordering. One must stack the game pieces in as efficient or strategic a way as possible in order. However, the game increases in speed and difficulty as time goes on. Over time, it becomes virtually impossible to stack the items in an efficient way. As with those who suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder, players are fighting a losing battle. Playing Tetris means staving off defeat for another second, earning as many points as you can before you are finally vanquished. Those afflicted with OCD will compulsively attempt to bring order to their surroundings in what seems like an unending battle. As with Tetris, to an outsider, there is little rational logic to it.

Secondary Stimulus

In Tetris DS, the player is given a secondary stimulus to aid in the progression through the game. This is made possible through the Nintendo DS’ dual screens. While the game play action takes place generally in the bottom (touch) screen, a second vicarious action takes place in the other screen depicting action sequences from early Nintendo titles like Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros. 3, Donkey Kong, Balloon Fight, Metroid, and Yoshi’s Cookie.

Again, some may say: “So what?” Even the original Tetris for GameBoy had characters and sequences taken from Zelda, Metroid, and Donkey Kong. The difference is that in Tetris DS, these sequences and remixed songs are used to create tempo and focus for the player. These familiar songs and scenes add to the experience, instead of distracting from it. Tetris DS is as much about nostalgia as it is about game play, and it seems the two go hand in hand.

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