The New Tetris lost all its data

My copy of The New Tetris lost all its data.

The New Tetris is the main incarnation of Tetris on the Nintendo 64. It's a little different from regular Tetris in that you get a relatively small reward for making a Tetris, only one bonus line over the four you get naturally. The main means of gaining points is by combining four blocks to form a perfect 4x4 square, which will then solidify and become gold or silver; this, when you make lines using it, will be worth many additional points: a double gold Tetris (a Tetris which completely removes two entire gold blocks) is worth 85 points instead of the regular 5. Obviously, making golds and silvers is the primary aim of the game.

This is made simpler by the fact that instead of being able to see one piece into the future you can now see all of your next four pieces. While this does make the basic game easier, it also makes it much, much more strategic; your success is much more closely tied to your skill and strategy than blind luck.

The other major change is the introduction of a holding piece: this is an extra block, kept off to the side of the screen, which you can exchange for the block you're currently steering at any time (though obviously you are not allowed to switch back!) This adds another layer of strategy and lets you do things like keep a 4x1 block on hand for when it's needed in the future.

These factors add a huge amount of depth to the basic game of Tetris, and make The New Tetris my favourite version of Tetris, better even than the original Game Boy version. This is despite the slight lack of configuration options, and inept computer opponents.

As a multiplayer game TNT reigns supreme. Being an N64 game it allows for up to four simultaneous players. "Addictive" doesn't begin to describe this game. You have three options, Sprint (best score after three minutes), Ultra (first to 150 lines), and Marathon (last man standing takes all). There are also copious options for Garbage (troublesome blocks given to other players when you pull off high-scoring manoeuvres) including the Directed setting, which enables people to gang up on the best player, or failing that, me. I've been playing TNT for at least three and a half years now. One time I took it on holiday to Yorkshire with some friends from high school - we played it almost 24 hours a day. Over the last term I left my N64 at home and my sister, brother and dad all got addicted, and they play daily after dinner now. It does get boring, but only slowly, and if you're playing against friends, very slowly indeed.

TNT records high scores (though not in multiplayer mode, stupidly) and cumulative total lines. Yeah, cumulative. There are a set of milestones from 2500 up to a whopping 500,000 lines which, when met, unlock a new music track (the music sucks apart from the Tetris theme) and a new backdrop (these are generally quite pretty) to play with. They're called Wonders. Having been played sporadically for about four years my copy of TNT had, alongside some reasonable if unmemorable high scores, over 420,000 lines accumulated. We had unlocked all but the final Wonder and were well on our way to getting the final one unlocked. I thought we would get there within the year.

Then, and I don't know what triggered this, we finished a game and a strange debug message popped up. It read something along the lines of "You have unlocked the secret cheat! Enter your name as 2FAST4U for extreme speed! You must now reset your N64."

We were all puzzled at this (it was during a multiplayer game) but I reset the machine like it said. And when I got back to the main menu, I found all the data had been wiped. Every name, every high score, every Wonder all 420,000 lines, four years' work, all reset to zero.

I guess it could have been worse. It could have been my GoldenEye cartridge. And WWF No Mercy - I hate wrestling games, but this is just to make the point - loses its data almost daily. Even so, such appalling badness is criminal. I'm not happy.

So there you go, buy The New Tetris for N64, it's great, but you may lose all your data.

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