I’m sure Tetris needs no introduction, but here goes. Tetris is a puzzle game whereby different shaped blocks (of which there are seven different types) fall down the screen. When the blocks create a line they disappear and earn you points. If you leave gaps then your blocks build up and eventually it’s game over. The more lines you clear the faster the bricks will fall as you level up.
Tetris has been around since the 80’s and has been on almost every console and operating system imaginable. So what can be done to make the 360 incarnation different? Surely it’s just the same old Tetris? Perhaps, but there are some interesting additions.
There are a variety of games modes. The original mode is called “Marathon” where you progress through levels as you get more lines and as cope with the increasing speed – nothing new here. Another mode is called “Cascade” where blocks fall through gaps which cause other lines to clear and earn you bonuses. Generally you should be able to achieve a much higher score in this mode as it speeds up less than “Marathon” mode. Another addition is the “Race” mode. In this game type you must clear the target number of lines as quickly as possible. In addition to the above there is also a “Hotline” and “Go Low” game type. In “Hotline” you can earn points by clearing specific lines on the Matrix. This sounds a little confusing at first but is actually a lot of fun. Lastly, in “Go Low” points are given based upon where the highest block is when you clear a row. The lower you can keep your blocks to the ground the higher the score you get for clearing the row. All of the game types are actually very good and will keep you entertained for a fair amount of time. They all have the same addictive quality of the original.
There have been some slight game play changes. You can now hold a piece if you don’t want to use it which can help to get higher combos (as was seen in the Nintendo DS version). There is also a ghost image of the block to help accurate placement. Lastly, pressing up on the analogue stick will send your brick straight to the ground – this can really help to speed up the game and is an essential trick in multi-player if you want to really destroy your opponent!
The single player mode is all very well and good but surely you can’t have a 360 game with no multi-player and online play? Of course not, and this is where the game really excels. All of the game types can be played both at home with friends and online. There is an online matchmaking mode which tries to pit you against opponents of a similar skill level. Unfortunately when I tried matchmaking I got put against someone of a much higher rank than me which was fairly frustrating as a game could be over within a minute or so – perhaps this is to do with how many people are online at the time. The live play works seamlessly and I’ve never experienced any lag or any random dropouts.
Graphically the game doesn’t excel but then it doesn’t need to. The colours are good and viewing with high definition is a nice experience. However, due to the bright colours and the amount of concentration required you have to take regular breaks or your eyes really do begin to hurt. Whilst you are playing there are nice backgrounds, although these can put you off somewhat when something is moving in the corner of your eye and you are trying to concentrate. As far as sound goes it has the original Tetris theme slightly slowed down with more of a modern feel. This music is likely to play in your head all day after hearing it a few times, so be warned! In the options menu the backgrounds and sound effects can all be altered slightly if they are getting too annoying or they are not quite to your taste.
The most frustrating aspect of the game is the controls. When pushing up on the analogue stick your block will hit the ground straight away. However, during fast play you can accidentally press up very easily and mess up your whole game in a matter of seconds.
This game should keep you entertained for a good few hours and if you were a fan of the original (who wasn’t?) then this certainly won’t disappoint. There is a total of 1000 gamer points to be had over 40 different achievements – they’re not easy either. Getting the full 1000 will take some serious time and skill.
Even though I have thoroughly enjoyed the game I can’t help but think that this should have been an Xbox Live arcade game. Yes this is a budget title but I’m sure it would have sold much better if it had been a live arcade game. There may have been reasons for it to be on a disc, file size limits perhaps, but it really is very disappointing as I feel it won’t get the full exposure it perhaps deserves.
There is nothing too groundbreaking here but that is not what Tetris is about. If you are a fan of the original then you should buy this. The multiplayer is excellent with friends around and live is a good second choice. Tetris is a game you will always find yourself coming back to, it doesn’t age one bit. Once you have gotten yourself used to the controls then you are left with a true gem.
Originally Written By: Joe