Sunday, January 22, 2006

Old Game Revisited Tetris & Dr Mario

Many years have passed since I last played Dr Mario so I thought I might gain some new appreciation for the game if I played it again. I remember not liking it and it's only appeal being Mario. And indeed this is it's only appeal because as a puzzle game it doesn't have the cognitive depth to keep the player interested. The audio is bland and the puzzle element itself leaves much to be desired as later in the game you have very little room to move Pisces no-matter how good you are. Plus the player is forced to dump blocks in the hope that the next one they need will come soon. This dumping element makes most of the levels feel like a last ditch attempt at beating it as there is no way to avoid the dumping (or maybe that's just me).

I have played many games of Tetris and many Tertis like clones, but I have never liked any of those clones. Not on mobile phones, CD Players, Flash, Java or calculator version can compare to the original.

A limited number of four block shapes that fit into satisfying places in the puzzle environment. To get a piece in the right place is nice, but then to have the line flash, disappear, the blocks above fall down, have a nice ding sound play and have bonus points added is a satisfying event.

The Russian music is very methodic putting the player into a relaxed state. All other sounds in the game are posative pitched bell like sounds. Research has shown that these pitched bell reward sounds are satisfying to the human brain and even moving a falling shape from left to right in Tetris results in this sound.

Levels are conveyed by changing colour scheme and the difficulty is controlled by the game speed. Wither a player has been playing the game for two seconds or five hours the gameplay, rules and cognitive decisions made on the players part are the same.

The reason why people play Tetris is because every action results in a reward sound making Tetris a very satisfying and relaxing game to play. Also within it's simple gameplay there is required planning for future moves so a player's mind is always busy.

Even if you loose in Tetris there is a sense that you could have done better if you had just planned your moves better. In reality the game moves to a speed that is just slightly faster than you can operate at, so you make just enough clumsy mistakes to loose.