Last year, Tetris Party hit WiiWare, bringing one of the most addictive, beloved games of all time to Nintendo's system in downloadable form. It was, in a word, fantastic, and most of the problems could be ignored because of the medium. Downloadable games (WiiWare and DSiWare in particular) are given some leeway, since the developers are trying to accomplish less with less, and usually, justifiably, charge less as well. It's easier to justify downloading a game for $5 than going to the store and buying the same product for $60. Because of this, when these same games hit disc form, it's a different ball game. The developers need to bring more to to the table. In the case of Tetris Party Deluxe, Majesco's port of the WiiWare hit... it's sort of a mixed bag.
On the one hand, it is, indeed, Tetris. That alone brings something that can't be taken away. It doesn't screw up the formula, and the music, the art, and the gameplay are all reminiscent of the original, classic title. and should be enough to make most people accept that it is, indeed, an official Tetris game. There are some issues with the placement of the game board, and it feels as though the game could have made better use of the screen's real-estate, but it's still as Tetris as it needs to be. Beyond that, there are also a few modes to teach new players how to play Tetris, as well as an "easy mode" that simplifies the game. For 99.9% of the people who are picking up a Tetris game, knowing how to play isn't an issue, but I'm sure some will appreciate the addition. Beyond this, a number of other game modes take advantage of the game's basic formula have been added, and there are expanded control options for anyone who feels the need to complicate things with a Wii Balance Board or Wheel. While not everyone might want to use the Balance Board to control the game, it's there for those who do.
Still, none of this gets in the way of the true goal of Tetris Party Deluxe: the party aspect. It's a game that's meant to be played with friends, and this is a standout success of the title. While others in the past, most notably the DS version of Tetris released a few years back, have added in multiplayer, Deluxe allows for much more hectic battles, with a number of interesting items to spice up the action. It's fun, and only runs into issues when players have problems seeing the action on screen due to the game's previously mentioned issues. This problem causes eye-strain, especially when trying to figure out what the items picked up do, since the icons aren't really all that varied. Even so, it's still fun, and the ability to play online (and support for the Wii Speak microphone) should be a welcome surprise to fans of the classic game.
And yet, despite the new modes and additions, it still feels as though more could have been done to justify the price. It's easy to buy games over WiiWare. Very easy. At this point, wireless internet is so popular that just about anyone who would want to could jump online and buy Tetris Party without any issue. The visuals really should have been cleaned up for this retail release, and there's no reason so much of the screen should be ignored, squishing the already small game board down even more. The game's fun and all, but, to be honest, there are simply easier to get versions of the product for cheaper, and the changes don't make it worth the trip to the store for the game disc.