Before there was Angry birds, before Fruit Ninja, before Bejeweled, before Cut the Rope, before Peggle there was Tetris. If I was playing any of those other games on my phone and someone handed me a GameBoy with Tetris on it I would throw the phone out the window, even if it was totally unnecessary (and it probably would be), because Tetris is just that fucking good. It always has been and always will be. Even when they slightly alter the traditional game with things like T-Spin, it is still the king amongst puzzle games. The fact that I am utterly addicted to Tetris: Axis has little to do with the 3DS game itself; it is the classic game play that keeps me coming back. That isn’t to say that Tetris: Axis doesn’t throw a beautiful coat of paint on top of nearly perfect game. The game looks phenomenal and plays just like Tetris. And while the 3D doesn’t add too much extra to the experience it doesn’t detract from it either, as neither game play nor frame rate suffers from the use of 3D.
Axis boasts over twenty game modes, some of which shine brighter than others. Fever is a 60 second speed run where the lines will rise from the ground as well as fall from the top on a smaller grid. The multiplayer mode utilizes Download Play and supports up to 8 (!!) players so none of your friends, as long as they have a 3DS, will be left out of your Tetris party. The CPU battle mode has you facing off against bots and collecting power ups to strategically destroy your opponents by clouding their vision, changing the way the blocks move, and sometimes just swapping screens with them after placing them in an inescapable horrid position. While the power ups aren’t as diverse as something like Tetris Battle Gaiden, it is still a nice addition. In Jigsaw mode you drop shapes to create an image, which becomes extremely complicated when expert use of T-Spin is necessary to complete puzzles. Shadow Wide has you filling in the outline of an object with tetrominos as well as some smaller versions that this mode would be impossible without. Climber has you dropping blocks around a tower helping an NPC climb to the top of the tower, collecting hearts along the way to increase the time you have left.
There are also two AR modes that will allow you to use the 3DS camera and the AR cards that came with your 3DS (remember those?) to play Tetris on your desk at work, or your table at home, or on your friends stomach. AR Marathon plays like the original marathon but with a skinnier grid and a block that will not only clear the screen but will also rotate it forcing you to move around to the correct side. AR Climber plays exactly like the normal climber mode only because the man is circling the tower you must also move and circle the tower as well. It’s a lot of fun if you have the space for it but the people on the train look at me weird whenever I do something like that (as they should).
Of course not everything can be timeless, Stage Racer Plus has you piloting, for lack of a better word, a single tetromino through a grinding, twisting, turning and jumping (that’s right jumping) down a Tetris maze to the finish line.
But there is plenty of variety here that you don’t have to be stuck with some of the lackluster modes for very long if you don’t want. Marathon mode, the traditional game play mode, alone will last your for dozens of hours and there is bound to be something for everyone within the rest of the modes available.