N64 Tetris games

by Martin Watts, 14 September 2019

Two players go head to head in The New Tetris - one of four N64 Tetris games.

Do you have an N64? Do you love Tetris? Well then you’ll be happy to hear there are four N64 Tetris games you can enjoy.

Surprisingly, each version of Tetris on the N64 is distinctive in some way.

Whether you want classic line-clearing fun or something a bit more experimental, there’s something for everyone.

Four players go head to head in Tetris 64's multiplayer mode.

Tetris 64

Tetris 64 offers the most traditional block-dropping experience of the four N64 Tetris games. It released exclusively in Japan, although the game is, in fact, presented entirely in English.

The standard mode follows the original game’s ruleset. Up to four players can compete against one another.

A single player game of Tetris 64 - one of four N64 Tetris games

However, this game does have a couple of alternative modes for you to try. It’s also the only title to support the N64 Bio Sensor.

This little-known accessory reads your heart rate. You plug it into the bottom of your controller and then attach the wired clip to your ear.

The N64 Bio Sensor accessory, which measures your heart rate.

It’s used by the game’s Bio Tetris mode, which alters the gameplay based on your heart rate.

It sounds clever. But in reality you’d have to sprint a mile while playing for it to make a noticeable difference.

Tetris 64's Bio Tetris mode, which uses the N64 Bio Sensor accessory to influence the gameplay.

If you want an even more off-the-wall experience then Giga Tetris will be right up your street.

This mode throws massive tetrominoes into the mix, making for some interesting combo possibilities.

The New Tetris

H20 Entertainment’s take on Tetris features slightly tweaked rules and multiplayer for up to four players.

In The New Tetris, you can rotate pieces in places where it traditionally would not have been possible.

The title screen for The New Tetris on Nintendo 64.

Clear a line by doing this and the ones immediately above and below transform into rows of 1 x 1 blocks. These pieces may then fall and slot in, clearing more lines in the process.

You can also place certain tetrominoes in a particular way to create special blocks.

Single-player marathon mode in The New Tetris on N64.

For example, if you stack four 2 x 2 blocks to create a 4 x 4 square, it’ll turn gold. You can then score extra lines when including some or all of the gold square in a line clear.

Other changes include the option to save a piece for later and being able to see the next three upcoming pieces.

A two-player versus game in The New Tetris on N64.

The game keeps track of all the lines cleared/won by human players. By adding to this tally, you can unlock 3D models of famous world landmarks to view.

The New Tetris famously includes a hidden rant by the game’s lead programmer David Pridie.

In this monologue, he harshly – yet hilariously – calls out other colleagues for their supposed lack of work ethic during the game’s development.

A four-player match of The New Tetris on Nintendo 64.

Tetrisphere

Out of all four N64 Tetris games, Tetrisphere is by far the most unusual.

It’s kind of like 3D Tetris, but the gameplay and rules are quite different. Nevertheless, the classic tetromino pieces all make an appearance here.

Instead of clearing lines, the goal is to remove blocks from a sphere by connecting three or more of them together. In most modes, you do this until you reach the centre.

Blocks still fall from above, although you view the sphere from a first-person perspective.

Clearing multiple column pieces in Tetrisphere's Rescue mode.

Ideally, you want to clear as many blocks in a single move as possible. To help you do this, you can move and line-up blocks already on the sphere as the next piece is falling.

It’s a bit out there in terms of premise. But once you get the hang of the gameplay, Tetrisphere quickly becomes a very addictive experience.

Scoring a combo in Tetrisphere for Nintendo 64.

It also features one of the N64’s best soundtracks.

Composed by Neil Voss (who also composed The New Tetris’ music), the thumping techno-style soundtrack really complements the game’s experimental vibe.

To top it all off, you can go head-to-head against a friend or the CPU in multiplayer.

Two players play against one another in Tetrisphere on Nintendo 64.

Magical Tetris Challenge

This colourful edition of Tetris features Disney characters and a new take on the classic block-dropping formula.

Magical Tetris Challenge is a head-to-head battle game. It’s about outplaying your opponent and ensuring your screen doesn’t fill up first.

The vibrant and colourful title screen for Magical Tetris Challenge on Nintendo 64.

You have the usual Tetris blocks at your disposal.

However, clearing lines consecutively sends pentominoes and larger blocks to your opponent. Having access to larger pieces means it’s also possible to clear five lines at once, otherwise known as a Pentris.

Goofy feels the pressure as magical blocks stack up in Magical Tetris Challenge for N64.

If they then clear multiple lines at the same time, those awkward pieces will come back your way.

This results in a back and forth that quickly becomes very chaotic. Matches are considerably quicker than your usual Tetris marathon.

Scoring a double-hit combo in Magical Tetris Challenge on N64.

To make the over-the-top action a bit more manageable, you have a meter that builds up over time.

Once it fills up, a rainbow-coloured wave will spread across your play area and remove any and all blocks above four lines.

Minnie Mouse discovers a magical stone while baking in Magical Tetris Challenge for N64.

Magical Tetris Challenge is certainly the most colourful of the N64 Tetris games. The 2D graphics are beautifully detailed, really capturing the Disney look and feel.

If you’re after an action-packed, two-player puzzle game then this is definitely worth a go.

Which of the N64 Tetris games is your favourite?

Let me know on Twitter or Facebook.