Release Date: August 11, 1996
Platform Played On: SNES
2018 Placement: #5 (-1)
What It Is:
A match-3-ish competitive puzzle game released many years before Bejeweled, Tetris Attack is a game where you have to switch around and match shapes to clear out your area which then sends large blocks to your opponent’s side to mess with them. The larger the combo when you match, the bigger the headache for your opponent. Released in Japan as Panel de Pon with fairy characters, the game was renamed Tetris Attack and redone with characters from Yoshi’s Island for Western audiences (despite the game not being similar to Tetris at all aside from the timed puzzle nature). I personally like the revision – the Yoshi’s Island characters gave the game much more personality to me.
It’s a pretty straightforward type of game – there’s a campaign mode where you fight each character before making your way through Bowser’s henchmen before taking on the big turtle himself. But the real fun from the game comes from the local play and demolishing your friends over and over no matter how hard they try to beat you.
Why It’s Important To Me:
This was one of the first (if not the first) head-to-head multiplayer games that I enjoyed playing against my friends. Generally, I’m not a huge competition-based gamer as is evidenced by most of my top 100 list being solo games or games where you play co-op/working with your friends. But I was a Tetris Attack savant when I was younger. I was unbeatable. Friends tried and most gave up eventually and wouldn’t play with me anymore because it was not fun for them. And that’s okay. I still loved the game.
There is also, of course, the music. God, the music in this game is just incredible. Probably top 10 favorite soundtracks if I’m being honest with myself – yes it holds up against stuff like Persona 5 and Final Fantasy 7, I’m that serious about it. I think my #1 favorite track is the ice world theme for Bumpty. Then there’s Gargantuan Blargg’s theme in the lava world. And the theme for the main Bowser minions is also rockin’. Then of course every stage theme has a frantic escalation when your blocks reach critical mass where the music cranks up to 11. My personal favorite is the change from Poochy’s regular theme to his critical theme – it goes from this nice, peaceful, chill vibe to holy shit my world is burning. It’s fantastic.
My Strongest Memory:
So aside from all the good times I had smushing my friends into paste while playing this game, there was one particular memory of mine that has never left my brain. One day, me and my friend were playing a versus match on the Bowser stage and the Koopa King’s music was playing. Another friend of ours arrived and as he entered the room, he heard the music playing and immediately said “What IS this, field day at the old folks’ home?”
Me and my friend burst out laughing and I have not been able to remove that description of the music from my brain no matter how hard I’ve tried. It became a minor inside joke whenever this game was played and while it’s likely faded from all my other friends’ minds at this point, this memory and the game are forever intertwined to me. I literally cannot think about Tetris Attack without reflexively thinking about field day at the old folks’ home.
Why It’s #6:
So games #4-#6 of my top 100 are basically in an ever-rotating order. At any given time any of these three could be #6 or #4. The dice rolled on this one being #6 because it’s been the longest since I’ve played it. Tetris Attack is my favorite puzzle game and my favorite competitive multiplayer game – partly because I was so good at it and mostly because of the music. Yes, the original Tetris also has legendary music but to a young me this game’s themes were on another level. It also helped that I loved Super Mario World 2 as well so all the random enemies getting extra characterization in this game didn’t hurt. I will never not preach the good word of Panel de Tetris Attack.