Since its original release more than 20 years ago, Tetris has graced dozens of consoles with its ubiquitous block dropping. While each release puts a new spin on Alexey Pajitnov's classic, the best Tetris games remain faithful to the formula that was already nearly perfect at its inception. When Tetris Party launched on WiiWare almost two years ago, it kept these basics intact and introduced some interesting twists. Tetris Party Deluxe fleshes out some of these ideas and is a fun version of Tetris in its own right, but it doesn't really add enough sparkle to make the more expensive retail version a better value than its downloadable predecessor.
In addition to the standard Marathon and Sprint modes, which involve clearing as many lines as quickly as you can, Tetris Party Deluxe offers a nice variety of new mechanics that slow down the traditionally frenetic pace. In Field Climber, the player creates footholds with the tetriminos (that is, the falling blocks) to allow a climber to ascend to the top of the screen. The little guy can only move up one block at a time, and there are checkpoints to reach on each level, so Field Climber requires a more methodical approach. Shadow mode, in which you must complete a puzzle that appears as a shadow in the background, is also more cerebral than most Tetris varieties. This mode uses shapes that are different from the traditional tetriminos and allows you to skip a limited number of blocks you can't find a place for, challenging you to use your Tetris skills in creative new ways.
If you'd rather stick with speed, there are a few new modes to accommodate you as well. In the returning Bombliss mode, bomb blocks destroy neighboring pieces, and bomb pieces destroy nearby tetriminos when cleared. In Master mode, the game is sped up so that blocks drop instantly, and you'll need lightning-fast reflexes to survive longer than a minute or two. While these modes remain largely faithful to the original Tetris mechanics, Stage Racer is an interesting departure. Instead of clearing lines, you'll navigate a single tetrimino through a course to the goal 400 lines below. The time it takes you to reach the goal is your score, making Stage Racer more of a racing game than a new style of Tetris. Trying to beat your own times is surprisingly addictive.
Finally, Tetris Party Deluxe also offers Wii Balance Board support. Although this mode is played on a smaller grid and with blocks different from conventional Tetris, the goals are the same. Leaning left or right moves the block, while leaning forward or backward drops the tetrimino into place. A quick squat rotates the pieces. The controls aren't as precise as they need to be for a proper Tetris game; as a result, the balance board offers more of an amusing diversion than a valuable addition to the franchise.