The StarSoldier


Artist touch: It's great to see Tengen pay omage to the game's origin with a picture of a Russian castle plus the pieces near the bottom show you what you are getting in the game. Cover art rating: 7/10
Month it won: Feburary 2006

(Tengen/Mirror Soft, 1988)
Special note: When Tengen Tetris was originally pulled from the market any games that were left were going for nearly 200 bucks.
Introduction and Story:
Here is my second game in the NES Stud or Dud 6 part series! Since February is the month of Valentine's Day I thought I would pick a game that doesn't have any shameless scantily clad girls or guys with big muscles to sell a game so anyone can play it. I'm picking an intense puzzle game that has universal appeal. Tetris is easily one of the biggest video game franchises of all time and I already gave one of these games Game of the Month before (Tetris DX of course) but now I'm going further back in time when this famous game first debuted (and then quickly canceled) on the home console market. This Game of the Month is none other than the banned but still very fun Tengen Tetris!

There is no real story line here in this unique puzzle game from Russia but we all know most these games don't anyway and if they do they usually suck (like in Kirby's Avalanche for the SNES or Super Bust A Move 2 for the Playstation2). The real dirt on this game here is how Tengen Tetris was pulled from the market after it was exposed that Tengen and Mirror Soft actually didn't have the rights to Tetris in the first place. Because of this Nintendo themselves quickly sued Tengen and they force them to stop selling the game and destroy the remaining copies as well. If you can find this game in the wild consider yourself luckier then a virgin a prom night.
Controls and Game Play:
If you are new to this classic game get outside more and know the objective is simple here: you move and rotate up to 7 different falling pieces to make horizontal lines. If you make I complete line then you make them disappear for points. If you can drop the pieces faster then you can score more bonus points but if you can get the big pay off if you are able to eliminate 4 lines at once then you can get what they call the 'Tetris'. Sure that sounds easy but it doesn't take long for the game to speed up and sometimes you don't always get the piece you want either so expect a challenge and a bit of cursing.

The game may be tough but you can't blame the controls if you lose. The game has excellent and simple to master controls as you move around these falling pieces and that's pretty much the whole game right there. Sure, making lines can get repetitive (it even sounds illegal) but you can edit the game so it throws different challenges at you like default block height or you can even play the game with a friend as well (unlike some other games out there). Surprisingly, this game was even designed by the famous Atari creator Ed Logg, maker of mega popular hits like Asteroids, San Francisco Rush, and Centipede.
Graphics and Sounds:
One thing that really separates Tetris (especially Tengen Tetris here) from most of the other NES games out there is all the cool Russian themes here. As soon as you turn on the game you'll see detailed and colourful background Russian mofits plus I love seeing the tiny characters dance at the end of stage. It really adds a lot of personality to the game. Unfortunately, looking at the same old Tetris table all the time with it's boring black background of nothingless does get boring but overall the game's graphics are passable. Sure, the graphics can be cool but it's the 4 different musical tracks that really steal the show. Unlike the lame music found in the other NES Tetris you'll actually want to listen to this stuff.
The Bottomline:
Although this NES game is harder to find then most of the gray junk out there (yet it isn't one of those holy grail either like Stadium Events and Cheetahman II which are harder to find then a fat man's weiner), Tengen Tetris is definitely worth tracking down. Unlike Nintendo's original Tetris effort this game has full two player support and if that wasn't enough both the graphics and sounds are superior as well. Tengen may have broken the law releasing a unlicensed Tetris here but that didn't mean they cut any corners like Nintendo did (C'mon, Super Mario Bros. makes millions for ya but you can't put a two player mode in your Tetris game?!). Tengen Tetris may have basic visuals and repetitive game play but it is still one of the highly addictive games of all time and it easily the best Tetris game you can find on the NES.
*Rare NES game

overall rating: 81/100
Find this game on eBay here!

For 1 or 2 players
sound: 9/10
gameplay: 8/10
replay: 9/10

(Ryan Genno) 2006

See the other Games of the Month