Console yourself: Console review

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Tetrisphere

(Nintendo) N64

Anyone with a pulse knows about Tetris. This pocket- sized puzzler came out of nowhere to become one of the biggest-selling games of all time, with 35 million copies sold worldwide since 1989. Well, times change, and Tetris has been reborn for the new millennium as on the N64.

The objective of the game may have altered slightly, but the basic premise remains the same - blast your way to the core of giant spheres constructed from hundreds of Tetris pieces by matching up the pieces on the sphere with identically shaped firing pieces. Once you make a match, all the connecting pieces of that shape will explode, taking you a step closer to the centre. If you don't reach the core within a certain time-limit, the whole sphere will explode. As if that wasn't enough to worry about, the speed of the game increases the closer you get to the core. Put simply, it's Tetris in 3D. There are four different types of game, plus a two- player option which lets you play against either a human or computer opponent.

has a very fresh feel to it. It looks and sounds like an ambient techno video, the kind you might stick on after a night out clubbing. However, in the gameplay stakes, it lags a long way behind its predecessor. It was the simplicity of Tetris's gameplay which made it so fiendishly addictive, but has neither of those qualities. The complexity of the gameplay has been increased without any real benefit in terms of depth.

This is a bold attempt to revitalise an all-time classic. Shame it didn't quite come off.

On release, pounds 39.99

Actua Ice Hockey

(Gremlin) PlayStation

Following on from the enormous success of Actua Soccer 2 comes Actua Ice Hockey, another in Gremlin's Actua Sports series.

You have the opportunity to compete in a full Olympic programme, to create your own custom competition or just have a knockabout in practice - the choice is yours. There are 20 international teams to pick from, and, for those who actually know something about the sport, there's an array of tactical options which allow you to dictate your team's style of play.

Actua Ice Hockey has everything you've come to expect from an Actua Sports game; slick gameplay, responsive controls and, of course, Gremlin's trademark motion-captured animation. It may not be as playable as Actua Soccer 2, but this has more to do with the nature of the sport it's trying to simulate than any failings within the game itself. At times, the size of the puck, combined with the incredible speed of play, makes it hard to discern exactly what's going on and the size of the goals makes it extremely difficult to score.

However, there are two elements really lacking from this game. The first is gratuitous violence; for no ice hockey game is complete without regular breaks in the play for bouts of fisticuffs with the opposition. However, even more serious is the omission of a two-player mode, which seriously shortens the lifespan of the game.

Despite its shortcomings, Actua Ice Hockey is still a very solid product. Well worth checking out.

On release, pounds 44.99

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