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What's Tetris Like with a Giant Joystick?

Sega's new arcade Tetris game has a giant gimmick.


I didn't think Sega would be able to top Block People in the gimmick department, but the giant joysticks that you use to control Tetris Dekaris proved me wrong. As with the physical blocks that accompany the former, when you see those man-sized joysticks in front of a Tetris Dekaris unit, you'll simply have to give the game a try.

There isn't really too much to the joystick aside from its size. As in a normal game of Tetris, you move your pieces left and right by moving the stick left and right, and push down on the stick to make the pieces fall into place. Buttons on the top of the joystick can be pressed to rotate your pieces around.

So is the joysticks just a cheap method of drawing people to the game? My first impression after a couple of rounds at the weekend Amusement Machine Show is a maybe. In terms of basic control, the novelty of the giant joystick wore off pretty quickly. I actually found myself wishing for a d-pad on my second play of the game. However, playing with such a large controller certainly does feel unique, and Sega makes the most of the controller with some notable rumble, which sends your rival controller shaking during competitive play.

Tetris Dekaris on display at the AM Show.

The "Tetris Dekaris" cabinet refers to the game as being part of the "Deka Controller Series," or "Large Controller Series." This seems to be an indication that other large-sized controller games are on the way in the future.

The "large" theme extends beyond just the controller here, though. Everything about the game is large. The play field is just 6 by 7 blocks, making the blocks a lot larger than you're used to seeing in a Tetris game. The game is also projected onto a large 70 inch default screen. I say projected because the base unit is actually a projector, and can be detached from the default screen and projected onto a large wall. Sega had one such unit set up at the AM Show.

Projected onto a large wall.

The projection possibilities make this seem like a perfect game for tournaments. Sega seems to be focusing on the multiplayer with the game, as each unit includes two joysticks, one pink and one green. During competitive multiplayer, clearing multiple block rows makes your rival's speed increase. Cooperative multiplayer has both players on the same wide (12 by 7) field, although each player is limited to movement over seven columns, including two shared columns. During cooperative play, you can swap pieces with your fellow player by tapping a button on the main arcade cabinet.

Multiplayer Tetris Dekaris.

Solo play includes line attack and score attack modes. The former lets you play as long as you have time left on the clock. Clearing lines adds more time. Even if your blocks reach the top, the play field will clear and you're able to continue play.

Single player Tetris Dekaris.

Aesthetically, the game screams arcade Sega . The wacky vocal music in the background, and the monkeys playing tug-of-war on upcoming pieces at the top of the screen make me want to play this particular game of Tetris in the home, even without the giant controller (although if you do make a home port, Sega, do not hesitate to release some variety of hopelessly unprofitable peripheral).

All this seems to make for a fantastic game of arcade Tetris, made even more attractive thanks to the giant controller. Tetris Dekaris is yet another Sega game that you'll want to try out should it appear in an arcade near you. Here in Japan, that will be some time this Winter.

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