I picked up Planet Puzzle Leauge again, after misplacing the DS during the move and a far-too-long dallaince with WoW. It's still, if you like arranging blocks, a fantastic, mind-blowing version of one of the best games ever. There's a few little annoyances in the version, but I feel petty whining about a game that gives me WiFi play and vocie chat against my friends, automatic movie recoridng and sharing, and a dozen different modes that are all fun. But, seriously, I would buy the game again if you inclued the original Tetris Attack music
But as much as I love it, I think I'm done with it as a VS game. After years of holding out, I'm prepared to concede that Puzzle Fighter is a far better vs puzzle game, and will even hear arguments about the brutally fast Magical Drop or Battle Balls.
The downfall of TA/PPL comes after I've spent enough time playing with the stylus and exploring the Time Attack modes. The stylus makes anyone a better player, flat out. There hasn't been a control-change in a game since the addition of mouselook. I still suck on a regular basis, but the ratio of "doh, why didn't I see that?!?" to "stupid fingers" is now about 80/20, whereas it was almost the reverse on the SNES (yes, Tiv, even with the keyboard). So, I'm better now than I've ever been. I'm not super great (and I don't play with crazy Exploding Lift), but I average about 16-20K in a 2 min score run, which means one x12 or x13, and a few x9s.
Score Attack is basically "the break" of TA/PPL VS. You flatten out the board, push it up to the top, then take a few seconds to finesse things into place and start the break. If you fuck up and kill your chain after x5 or x6, just level it off and push back up. It's 2 minutes of clean breaks and it's fun as hell. Becuase of the time crunch, breaking little 3s or x2s activley hurts you, taking away blocks which could have been used elsewhere and burning precious seconds with their explosion.
After that, you've both got blocks of cheese on your screens and you move into Garbage Attack - another 2:00 timed mode in PPL. Here, while you want to keep chaining if you can, block and break managment are far more important. For decent players, it's pretty easy to send x4 or x5 bricks over on a regular basis, along with trash breaks. This is enough to keep the screen full indefinatley. If one player is clearly better than the other, they'll plow through the trash and get to do another clean break, piling another huge block of cheese on top of the stack. But if you can keep breaking the cheese as it falls, keep moving the critic break into place before squish time expires, you can stay alive.
This is the game we played for hours at Merrill, the apartment vortex, the wedge, the Pi Hole (Oh, I still remember when Foust recognized that it took some skill to set up chains from falling cheese), and the Alex/Judi/Lisa house on Holden. ( . .shit. I just remembered that house was the same one that Nikki/Stevie/Zulema and I lived in. Buut without the Li-tchen. Anyway. .. ) Drop your blocks, stay alive. These were the games that could strecth for 10+ minute rounds.
To borrow a phrase from descriptions of Euro board games, this is the point where I think it breaks into multiplayer solitare. The extent of your influence over the other person is almost nil. The game is now chicken, or sme sort of stress test, all about who fails first. Once I've filled your screen with cheese, there's not much I can do but keep it filled (and layer a sandwich in, if the ! blocks show up) to make it harder for you. This is bad, and has killed some of my excitment for the game.
As a result, I've been playing a lot more Street Fighter. :) More on that later.