Tag Archives: Tetris

The History of the Soviet Union Arranged to the Tetris Melody

This is one of my daughter’s favorite videos at the moment.

(direct link)

Having spent time in the Soviet studies program and being a game, it is a meshing of experiences I am on board with.

And it gives me a break from having to correct history as she has seen it presented in Hetalia.

But at least we have some common subject about which to talk!

Why Does Tetris Get Faster?

I was watching my daughter play Tetris on her Nintendo DS the other day. (I found a copy a while back.)  She picked it up out of our box of DS games and decided to give it a try as a break from various flavors of Pokemon. (Pokemon Mystery DungeonNetHack meets Pokemon… has been the favored flavor of late.)

I was interested to see what she thought of the game.  But I am always interested to see what she gets out of older games, classics or ones with which I have a history.

Those Famouse Tetrominoes

Those Famous Tetris Tetrominoes

She grasped the game pretty quickly and enjoyed it for a bit.  But Tetris on the DS advances levels at a rather swift pace if you’re any good at all, and soon she was at the frantic stage of blocks dropping out of the sky and the game was over.

After a couple of games she asked, “Why does it have to get faster?”

A deceptively easy question, that.

The obvious answer is that it gets harder because that is the challenge.  If a game always ran at the same speed you would lose only to boredom.  The history of video games is jam packed with games that get harder the further you progress.

But that is not entirely correct.  Challenge can go too far, at least for each individual.  There is a point for all of us just shy when we have essentially given up control of those falling blocks where the game is exactly as challenging as it needs to be, where we are immersed, tense, and on the edge of losing control.

In a perfect world games would be able to analyze our play and keep us at or near that threshold, advancing only when we had begun to master the current level of difficulty.

Now Tetris is an older game, so it is tough to fault it for not being perfect.  I first played it back on my Macintosh SE over 20 years ago.  It was a best seller on the original GameBoy, the esteemed ancestor of my daughter’s DS.  There were versions out for all sorts of systems including the Apple II.  I am surprised there wasn’t an Atari 2600 version of the game.  If ever there were a console system well adapted to dealing with things shaped like blocks.

So we can forgive Tetris its jumps in difficulty, but it does point to an interesting aspect of game design.  How quickly should difficulty ramp up in a game?

Which in turn makes you wonder about some MMORPGs.  Well, it made me wonder.

This week I ran some quests with my level 78 paladin and my level 44 druid (who is cat, so dont heel) in World of Warcraft, and playing one was not particularly more or less difficult than the other.  34 levels between the two but no noticeable change in skill required to play.  The effort expended doing quests was about the same.  Sure, the monsters being slain were higher level for my paladin, but his equipment and abilities canceled that out.

Would I put that much time into a game like Tetris if it never got harder?  Maybe if the level of challenge was right, but probably not.

Since I enjoyed playing both characters, it would seem that for me the level of achievement was in balance with the level of challenge.  WoW seems to work for me.

But you can see that if the level of challenge versus the achievement doesn’t work for somebody after the first 20 levels or so in a game like WoW, it isn’t going to get any better for them beyond that.

But does any MMORPG really get more challenging as you move through the main body of content?  Sure, there are dungeons, and even heroic versions thereof, as well as raiding, but I would argue that most players never go far in those directions.

And should they get more challenging?  Should getting from level 79 to 80, for example, require not just more experience points and some equipment upgrades, but additional skill?  Is character advancement enough?  Is there some happy medium between the two?

And my daughter?

She thinks WoW is great, Tetris is not, and that comparing the two is “totally ridiculous.”

The view from age 7 1/2.

Where is Tetris for the DS?

My daughter has had her Nintendo DS for two months now, and I have had my own for a little over a month.

We have been mostly about Pokemon over that time, with some side trips into Horsez 2 and Mario Party DS.

And while I like Pokemon quite a bit, it isn’t really a game to pick up and play frantically for a bit then set aside. It has something of an MMO vibe to it in that there is always something to do, places to travel, people to find, and often, just work to be done. That is good, in that it keeps me coming back, but sometimes you want the a game with no long-term commitment.

I have also fooled around with BrainAge a bit (current age: 33), but sometimes I don’t feel inclined to exercise my pre-frontal cortex by doing math problems or memorizing four letter words.

I went to GameFly to see what games I might put in our queue to scratch that gaming itch.

And, digging through the lists of games, I found Tetris DS.

Now there was a game that seemed worth having.

I was going to put it on the list, but then decided I to just go buy it.

After all, when have I ever been disappointed by Tetris?

I had a copy of Tetris on my Mac SE back in the days when a 9″ monochrome monitor seemed cool and have had versions of the game on a number of different platforms SINCE.

So I started looking around for it when I was out and about.

It wasn’t on the shelf at Fry’s.

No luck at BestBuy.

Strike out at GameStop.

Negative at Toys R Us.

Deciding to get serious, and armed with a gift certificate, I went to Amazon to order it and be done.

And Amazon did not have it. They only had “other ordering options” listed, with copies starting at $48.

Has this edition of Tetris been discontinued?

It is still listed on the official Nintendo DS site.

It even has its own official web site.

The Wikipedia entry on it does not have any details, other than to say that it seems to be oddly hard to obtain in some regions.

Then I went to eBay, to see how the used market was going. Searching on Tetris DS brought up the usual eBay assortment of results. The best of the “not quite what I wanted” entries was this one:

Good luck with that sale.

Filtering out the odd, actual copies of Tetris DS seem to be going for above retail on eBay.

Which brings me back to my question: What became of Tetris DS?

I cannot imagine that it was so unpopular that it would have been dropped. The demand on eBay is keeping the price up such that one might have been better off investing in copies of Tetris DS as opposed to, say, CitiBank.

Who knows the story? What is the mystery behind the lack of Tetris DS?