Published May 26, 2006
Two defining video games from the 1980s are back for the Nintendo DS handheld. "New Super Mario Bros." and "Tetris DS" are updated versions of classic games aimed at giving 21st century players a fresh dose of retro, old-school goodness.
Both remakes prove you don't need fancy 3D graphics or a costly high-definition display for a fun time.
"Tetris DS" (Rated E, $34.99) takes the same block-stacking premise of the original, but without the Russian theme.
The presentation this time includes a cast of characters from other enduring Nintendo franchises such as Donkey Kong, Samus and Link.
Tetris purists will find the bonus game modes mostly a distraction, but several styles were quite fun and proved even more frantic than the normal version.
I was particularly fixated with "Push Mode," where you battle against another player to push back their blocks to their danger line.
Though it was fun, standard mode remains the stuff of addictive legend. Hour after hour, I arranged various shapes of blocks in neat stacks with increasing rapidity.
My eyes burning and my thumbs pulsing with pain, I eventually gave up when the stream of falling pieces became a torrent.
If you're like me, a good part of your childhood was spent hammering away at the controls of a Nintendo Entertainment System console playing the familiar tune of "Super Mario Bros."
Nintendo has done a great job of reviving this enduring franchise for a new generation with the aptly, if predictably, named "New Super Mario Bros." (Rated E, $34.99).
The premise of this side-scrolling action game hasn't changed — at all. Princess Peach has been kidnapped, and Mario's job is to rescue her from the nefarious Bowser Jr. by conquering a series of psychedelic landscapes filled with magic coins, angry turtles and hungry house plants.
The revision adds vibrant, colorful graphics but isn't encumbered with totally new gameplay features.
Mario's got a few new moves that let him climb walls. And there are new power-up mushrooms that turn the pudgy plumber into a gargantuan Mega Mario who can smash through obstacles with ease.
Micro mushrooms have the opposite effect, shrinking Mario to a tiny blip who's able to enter special pipes and secret paths that are otherwise off-limits.
Though the levels are all new, "New Super Mario" smartly sticks to what made the original so great in the first place: a challenging, fun game you can pick up and play for five minutes or a few hours.
Both titles also take advantage of the DS' built in local-area and long-range wireless capabilities for multiplayer gaming.
Some might accuse Nintendo of overextending its franchises or taking the lazy way out by reintroducing old games instead of coming up with something totally new.
But there's a level of care and an attention to detail in these remakes that should offer gamers of all stripes enjoyable trips down memory lane.
Three stars of out four for both games.