Old School Vs. New School

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Panel de Tetris Pokemon Challenge

Without a doubt, if you are a Nintendo fan, you have played some variation of "Panel De Pon". Most will probably be familiar with it's english name, "Tetris Attack". Originated in Japan in 1996, Panel De Pon is a puzzle game like Tetris, but that's where the similarities end. The goal is to match up sets of matching tiles that rise from the bottom of the screen. It sounds simple, but has caused plenty of flying controllers in its day. The real meat of the game was setting up chains and combos, which would increase your score, and in the case of a two player game, dump tons of "garbage" tiles into his playfield.

In Japan, the game's theme involved flowers and faries (yes, that's where the "Lip's Stick" item from Super Smash Bros. Melee came from) which wasn't so much a problem in Japan, but when NOA decided to bring the game over, a change was needed to appeal to both boys and girls.
And so, Yoshi and characters from the recent Yoshi's Island game replaced the fairies. And in order to generate even more name recognition, Nintendo licenced the "Tetris" name and slapped it on the title screen.

The port was a success and Tetris Attack became very popular among puzzle fanatics and considered one of Nintendo's best puzzle games. Later on, after Pokemon exploded into the scene, Nintendo re-released Panel De Pon again, this time on the N64 and the Gameboy Color.
Interestingly enough, while the GB version of the game (Pokemon Puzzle Challenge) was handled by the same staff (Intelligent Systems) that created Panel De Pon and followed the recent Pokemon Gold and Silver releases, the N64 version (Pokemon Puzzle League) was made by the newly formed NST (Nintendo Software Technologies) here in the States and followed the themes set by the cartoon series. The N64 version was only released in the US, making it the only Pokemon game to not appear in Japan.

Most recently, Nintendo repackaged some of their older puzzle games for the Gamecube, which included Dr. Mario, Yoshi's Cookie, and, unsurprisingly, Panel De Pon. However, this collection is only available in Japan, and despite some large interest, there are no plans to port the game to US systems. However, if it was, you can be sure Panel De Pon would once again be replaced with Yoshi or perhaps even Pikachu.

If you own a variation of "Tetris Attack" be sure to give it a good play through during the holidays. No matter what the theme, one thing doesn't change... it's a damn good game.

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