Tetris players need not be couch potatoes
Tetris is about to get up off the couch. But that is not to say that the Barcalounger-bound can't still enjoy it.
The new "Tetris Party" game produced by Honolulu-based Tetris Online Inc.
will take advantage of the Wii's introduction of physical activity to video gaming, by interacting with players using the Wii Balance Board or the point-and-shoot features of the hand-held Wii controller.
A player will be able to control the Tetriminos, or falling shapes, by using the Balance Board, though Casey Pelkey, vice president of marketing, could not divulge too much information on that yet.
When "lots of laughter" comes from the test room upstairs, "it's almost always when they're playing on the Wii Balance Board," he said from his office at Harbor Court.
Tetris is one of the most, well-known electronic puzzle games in the world and using it via the board "adds variety," he said.
"It is a classic game that so many people have been exposed to," but the company was "looking for a way to change the formula a little bit," not to change the core of the game, but to add new ways to play, such as use of the touch-pad for the Nintendo DS version.
Beginners using the board can work their way up to standard Tetris, but again, the regular controller can also be used.
"Tetris Party," to be released in the fall, has several modes of play including single-player, duel mode and multiplayer modes, both local and online.
The game will not be released on disc to retail stores, rather, it will be available only as an online download.
Players can use Wii points for the download, or can use points purchased online or at stores. "They have a pretty flexible system," Pelkey said.
The former Nintendo of America employee came to work for Tetris Online about a year ago, recruited by company President Minoru Arakawa. Arakawa established the U.S. presence of the Japan-based company in 1980 and is NOA's retired president.
The chairman of Tetris Online is Henk Rogers, who owns the rights to Tetris and whose companies have produced or licensed several versions of the game for different platforms.
Pelkey described Tetris Online's role in "Tetris Party" as being like the producer of a movie that oversaw its development by another company -- in this case, Japan-based Hudson Soft.
"One-hundred percent was truly developed in Japan, managed directly from Hawaii. Our producers are here, our testers are here," he said.
The price and a firm launch date will be set once the game receives final approval from Nintendo.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: email@example.com