In addition to the new gameplay features, the entire presentation has been given a conceptual overhaul to reflect more than 20 years of Nintendo games. Knee-jerk Nintendo antagonists may rage against the throwback schmaltz stuffed into the package, but the rest of us will be too busy humming along to the Legend of Zelda overworld music to care. The graphical accoutrements and sounds are lifted wholesale, and when the DS’s top screen is unused in gameplay it displays footage from the classics — while you’re clearing lines on the bottom screen, the top screen shows gameplay from NES titles like Super Mario Bros, Zelda, and Excitebike.
In some ways, Tetris is Tetris is Tetris. Although developers attempt to re-imagine it every few years, usually the result is no more interesting than an edition of A Tale of Two Cities with a new cover. Tetris DS proves a worthy addition to the canon thanks to its portability and robust multiplayer. And single-player is still the best way to pass the time, by far, when you’re dropping a Tetrimino of your own.