Reviewed by Raymond Almeda
Wetrix is an innovative, well-designed puzzle game that rounds out a
genre niche for the N64. If you enjoy playing Tetrisphere (and a lot of
people do, judging by the sales), then Wetrix may be for you. But if
you'd rather see your 64-bit powerhouse machine doing more than
running cute variations of Tetris, you may want to look elsewhere.
Somewhere deep with the heart of Wetrix lies (what else?) Tetris.
The Father of All Puzzlers is evidenced here in the form of the Wetrix
puzzle pieces, which assume those all-too-familiar Tetris shapes. But
there's a lot more to this game than the simple structure of Tetris,
for better and for worse.
In a nutshell, the goal of Wetrix is to contain water on a three-dimensional
plane. Players are presented with a square piece of territory, upon
which may be stacked various randomly generated Tetris-shaped pieces.
Falling from the sky with the puzzle pieces is water, in large and
small amounts. The challenge is for player to create virtual lakes by
stacking these pieces around the perimeter of the territory. Add to
the mix a variety of oddball event pieces (ie. land-destroying bombs,
water-evaporating fireballs, ice cubes, and mines) and you've got
yourself a puzzle game.
The game ends when a spilled water meter fills to the top, signifying
that too much water has been allowed to escape. Or, alternatively, it
ends when you turn it off to go rip someone's heart out in Mortal Kombat 4.
The graphics, as puzzle games go, are smooth. The N64 is of course
capable of some killer water effects, and the developers have done
a fine job of harnessing that power here. It's welcome to see a
puzzle game that actually leverages the advanced hardware of the
N64 (unlike the seemingly 8-bit Bust-a- Move 2).
The music is also excellent, in many ways reminiscent of the techno
backdrop of Tetrisphere.
But for all of these fine points, Wetrix is nevertheless not for
everyone. Its gameplay lacks the immediate and universal appeal of
a game like Bust-a-Move 2. For all of that game's graphical and audio
faults, no one can deny that BAM is instantly addictive.
The immaculate Tetris is perhaps the most clean and simple puzzle
game. And that simplicity breeds addiction!
Here's the gist: when you screw up in Tetris, you know instantly that
you have screwed up! You don't need any water meters or gauges to tell you so.
But Wetrix, on the other hand, has an air of ambiguity about it. When you
mess up in Wetrix, you don't feel the same sense of panic (and shame)
that you might with Tetris. You simply see the water meter rise a bit.
So Wetrix is more of an acquired taste than its more simplistic
puzzle cousins. But experienced Wetrix players claim that the game
is equally involving.
So if you are unusually passionate about puzzle games, then you will
obviously want to give Wetrix a try. It's an N64 puzzle title of the
highest quality, and it deserves fair recognition as such.
The game is undeniably innovative, but innovation is no substitute for
simple addiction. Puzzle devotees may love Wetrix; the rest of us will
want to stick to Tetrisphere and (dare I say it?) the irrepressibly
simple Bust-a-Move 2.
Overall 7.75 out of 10