Tetris Attack is a Super Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy puzzle game featuring the Yoshi franchise as a theme by altering graphics and audio of the Japanese game Panel de Pon. Despite its name, Tetris Attack has no relation to the Tetris series, and follow-ups were named Puzzle League in the west starting with Pokémon Puzzle League.
The title of the game is very misleading in that the gameplay has little to do with Tetris. Instead, square panels rise from the bottom (called the "stack") and the job of the player is to line up three or more matching panels either horizontally or vertically as the stack rises.
The player controls the panels using a rectangular cursor on the screen which the player uses to switch the selected panels back and forth. Extra points are given for combinations of more than three. If the stack touches the top of the playing field while rising, the game is over.
Single player mode
In Endless mode, players play to try to achieve the best possible score before they get a game over. Players can choose the difficulty level (Easy, Normal, Hard) and the speed level (lv. 1-99) to start out. However, the longer they manage to stay alive, the faster the stack will start to rise. If the player manages to reach a score of 99,999, the credits sequence will play.
The Time Trial mode is also similar to the Endless mode, except players are given a time limit of two minutes, and the objective is to score as many points as possible before time is up.
This mode is just like the Endless mode (see above), except players must clear all the panels above the "clear line" that is drawn in the stack. The line is not visible at the beginning of the game, and is only visible when players have cleared enough panels for the stack to rise enough. If the stack touches the top before all the panels above the "clear line" are removed, the players will lose. There is no time limit in this game mode.
There is a total of 30 rounds (not counting the "special stage" and "last stage"), with five rounds per level.
The "special stage" and "last stage" involve defeating Bowser with combos and chains before the stack reaches the very top. While the "special stage" is only a bonus stage to test the players' skills, the "last stage" can be repeated if they lose.
In the puzzle mode, players are given a number of panels on the screen, and they must clear all of them with only a limited number of switches by the cursor. Players play ten rounds with up to six different characters. Also, at the end of each round, players are given a password, which they can use to come back to their game at a later time. There is no time limit for this game mode.
On a side note, there are some even more difficult puzzles that players can play with if they have the proper password.
Single player VS is a game where players can battle the computer in a fight to free the players' allies from a spell cast by Kamek. One by one, the players and Yoshi must break the spell over each of their allies by battling and defeating them. The key to doing that is to dump garbage blocks, which resemble the ceiling from Wario's Woods, on their stack. There are special panels called Shock Panels. When three or more of these align, this creates a Shock Block, a special garbage block, which makes clearing garbage blocks more difficult. Each battle gets successively more difficult, and as the players progress and free their allies, they can use them in battle as well.
Inside Mt. Wickedness, the players will face off against Hookbill the Koopa and Naval Piranha on all the skill levels. On the "Normal" and "Hard" skill levels, Kamek will be the next opponent. And on the "Hard" skill level, the players will face Bowser as the final opponent.
There is also a "Super Hard" skill level, which will heavily test the players' skills. All opponents fought on the "Hard" skill level will be in this skill level.
While Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, and Toad do not make a direct appearance in this game, Yoshi fights against Bowser and rescues his friends in the game's single-player versus mode, and he explains the gameplay to the player in the tutorials. A multitude of other characters from Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island appear in the game as well, some as allies and some as enemies. The following characters are:
The following characters can only be used in the VS game modes. There is an exception in the Game Boy version of the Puzzle game mode.
Note: All rival characters can only be used in the 2P Mode. There is an exception in the Game Boy version of the Puzzle game mode, however.
Below are a list of secrets that can be found. None of them stay unlocked, however.
Super Game Boy
When the Game Boy version is played on a Super Game Boy, certain button codes, if "1P" is selected at the title screen, trigger six secret borders, which are based on the background designs used for Yoshi's and his pals' stages in the SNES version. The borders and their corresponding codes are as follows:
The player can return to the title screen at any time to choose another border. Pressing just on the title screen will make the border the default star border again, while pressing the button will keep the current border.
The SNES version of the game does feature an "Options" menu, which enables the player to change the language settings, listen to sound effects and background music, and even view data about the characters.
There is also a "CPU Switch" feature, in which player 1 and/or player 2 will be controlled by a CPU player. However, this feature cannot be used to view game endings in the single player game modes; if attempted, the player will get a message stating that the CPU Switch must be turned off to view the ending.
Panel de Pon
Originally, Tetris Attack was Panel de Pon, released for the Super Famicom on October 27, 1995, starring a young fairy known as Lip. However, the game did not initially release in other countries as-is. For the international releases, Nintendo changed all the characters to Yoshi characters and enemies and renamed it.
References in other Nintendo games
In the Super Smash Bros. series, Lip's Stick, an item used by Lip, is an item throughout the series. Kirby's Stone move can turn him into many objects, including a garbage block from Panel de Pon. Panel de Pon music also appears in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The fairy Lip herself appears as an important character in Captain Rainbow. She also appears as a spirit and Mii Swordfighter costume in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
The Japanese version of Tetris Attack was released on the Satellaview as a Yoshi title instead of using the Tetris name license. Like Tetris Attack, there was an option in the menus to play the game with the characters and story dialogue in English, but the menus would stay in Japanese. The Game Boy version was also released in Japan as a standard cartridge.
Pokémon Puzzle Challenge, released for Game Boy Color in 2000, has a secret "Panel de Pon GB" mode accessible on a Game Boy or Super Game Boy, and contains many leftovers indicating it was a full game before being rebranded. Pokémon Puzzle Challenge was also tentatively titled Pokémon Attack, based on the name Tetris Attack.
Nintendo developed a sequel to the original game on Nintendo 64, known as Panel de Pon 64, but it was canceled and believed to have been retooled as Pokémon Puzzle League for the international market in 2000. The Panel de Pon sequel was later ported to Nintendo GameCube along with Dr. Mario and Yoshi no Cookie as part of Nintendo Puzzle Collection in 2003, which was planned to have a release outside of Japan.
Planet Puzzle League was released for Nintendo DS in 2007. This iteration has no mascot branding. Lip makes an appearance in an unlockable Super Famicom stage theme in the Japanese version, Panel de Pon DS, which was dummied out of international versions. A simplified DSiWare edition called Puzzle League Express was released in 2009.
The original game was released on the Wii's Virtual Console on November 27, 2007, on the Wii U's Virtual Console on May 29, 2013, and on the New Nintendo 3DS's Virtual Console on August 9, 2016, once again solely in Japan.
Panel de Pon is also one of the 21 games included in the Nintendo Classic Mini: Super Famicom exclusive to Japan. It was also released in Japan and for the first time overseas in the Americas, Europe, and Australia for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System - Nintendo Switch Online application on May 20, 2020.
Names in other languages
After the Japanese release of Panel de Pon, Yasuhiro Minagawa, the head of PR at Nintendo of Japan, announced that Rare was requested to release it overseas with the original fairies replaced by Killer Instinct characters and sound effects. This plan for the western localization was ultimately rejected, but the game was later greenlit with a Mario theme.
Names in other languages