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Nearly every Nintendo console has a version of the classic game Tetris available for it. The Game Boy launched with the original game as a pack-in game, the Nintendo Entertainment System was the battlefield for the whole Tengen's Tetris versus Nintendo's Tetris, and the series mutated into other versions such as Tetris Attack for the Super NES and Tetrisphere for the Nintendo 64. Even the shortlived Virtual Boy had a Tetris variant released for it; two in fact: 3D Tetris, a puzzle game involving blocks and a 3D cube; and V-Tetris, the style of Tetris that most everyone is familar with. Released in 1995 in Japan only by Bulletproof Software, V-Tetris features the familiar endless A game and clear-30-lines B game in addition to a new C game that takes advantage of the Virtual Boy's unique capabilities.

As mentioned above, there are three modes of play in V-Tetris. Game A is an endless barrage of falling tetrads that must be aligned and cleared forever and ever in classic Tetris style. More and more points are awarded for clearing more and more lines, with the clearing of four lines at once being known as a tetris. As you clear more and more lines, the speed at which the tetrads fall increases until, eventually, you are overwhelmed with blocks, you have a panic attack, and the game ends. Game B follows the same formula except that you now must clear a predetermined number of lines (30) before the game levels up. The three classic Tetris background musics are present for Games A and B and you have your choice between them or blessed silence. It's Game C where things get interesting. Not only do you get a new (required) background song, but there's a new mode of play. Instead of a single screen in which to place the tetrads, you can now scroll the pieces left and right once they've been placed. Basically you can rotate the tetrad container with the L and R buttons to create extra space. Pieces that are rotated off the main container and scrolled to the backside where they lay dormant until you return to them (one exception: clearing only one line at a time results in a random tetrad being placed in a random position on the backside container). The strategy lies in not just arranging the tetrads in the main container, but in making effective use of the backside as well. Note that due to the scrolling it's possible to clear more than four lines at a time. In theory it's possible to clear all twenty-two lines at once, although such a thing would be next to impossible to do. As you might expect the more lines you clear at once, the higher your score rises. The game is endless like Game A, meaning that you keep playing until the tetrads fill the container to the top. The game records your high scores for all three modes.

Since this is a Virtual Boy game the graphics are the standard red and black, and there's not much use made of the 3D capabilities. Background graphics around the container are in the typical clowns-and-fish happy style that the Japanese seem to prefer in their puzzle games (see Panel de Pon's happy smiletime fairies versus the Yoshis and other Super Mario Brothers characters present in the Americanization of the game), but these elements do occupy their own layer on the screen. The sounds are what you'd expect from a Tetris game - no more, no less - but once you get sucked into the game you'll barely notice either of these elements. The game's instructions are in Japanese, but there's no language skills needed in the game so if you know how to play Tetris then you'll have no problem playing the game. As for finding your own copy, check with eBay and other online auctions as it's one of the most common Virtual Boy games out there. Interestingly enough, after the Virtual Boy was deemed a failure Bulletproof Software began to import the title to American stores to try and liquidate stock, proving that even in failure a good game knows no boundaries.


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