Game Description: Tetris Worlds features 3D graphics and six variations of classic Tetris gameplay. Hours will seem like minutes when you start playing this productivity killer. The Tetris variations include the all-new Hotline Tetris, Cascade Tetris, and Fusion Tetris. The multiplayer mode lets up to four players challenge each other to see who can clear levels the fastest.
With practically every influential console titles origins in Japan and an equal amount of groundbreaking PC titles cranked out across the seas in America, I find it a bit surprising that one of the worlds best video games, Tetris, came from Russia. Still, despite its surprising point of origin, why look the horse in the mouth? Any way you slice it, Tetris easily ranks among the worlds best titles. Looking at it objectively, few games can match its accessibility; almost anyone able to pick it up and play within seconds. Its also as addictive as anything thats ever come off of a cartel jungle plantation, and it is very likely the worlds most popular and widespread game in terms of sales. Not counting bootleg or illegal versions, Tetris has sold over 60 million copies worldwide on every electronic system imaginable: Home consoles, handhelds, PCs, cellular phones, PDAs the list goes on and on. If it runs on electricity, it probably has a version of Tetris.
With such a widespread, historic and obviously successful game, some readers may be wondering why there would be a need to review it. To be honest, I thought the same thing myself until I played the latest version, Tetris Worlds. After spending time with it, I was so impressed with the different modes and variety of play available that I felt it was worth putting in the spotlight. Otherwise, something so ubiquitous probably wouldnt garner much attention, and that would be a shame.
For the three people on Earth who dont know what Tetris is, let me explain. Basically, its a puzzle game that features a rectangular-shaped playing area. Puzzle pieces of various shapes falling from the top. They soon start piling up at the bottom, and the object is to arrange these pieces into orderly rows filling the playfield from side to side. When such a line is made, it is removed from the board thereby giving players more space with which to create more lines. If the blocks reach the top of the screen, the game is over. Score is awarded for each line assembled, with bigger points for multiple lines cleared at once. Initially, it seems like theres nothing to it, but its depth is disguised by the elegance of design.
Since the main reason for this review is to highlight the variety of play formulas, Ill go into detail and list them here:
Classic Tetris- Of course, the game could not be called "Tetris" without featuring the classic original mode created back in 1985. There are a few small tweaks to the formula such as the ability to put one piece on "hold" to make way for another, but otherwise this is the real deal.
Sticky Tetris- in this mode, the goal is to clear the bottom row by eliminating a few lines of garbage blocking your way. Some of the falling blocks are multicolored, and divisible into smaller pieces. Upon landing, the blocks can fragment and can be used to fill in gaps that are too small for the whole piece to fit. The catch is that if a part of the block lands next to a similar color, it will "stick" in place where it is and create an unexpected obstruction.
Hotline Tetris- In this mode, there are several colored stripes at different heights on the playing field. Blocks eliminated must be exactly at the same height as these stripes in order to be counted towards your goal. Bold risktaking can sometimes pay off because the higher stripes credit you with more lines completed, naturally. This is definitely not the mode for the faint of heart.
Square Tetris- My vote for "most difficult mode" was split between this mode and Cascade. In Square Tetris, players must create perfect squares out of the various pieces. (I bet you didnt see that coming.) Needless to say, its pretty hard to do with the oddly-shaped pieces while still clearing lines at the same time. To make things even tougher, if you remove half of a piece by clearing a line, the remaining half does not count towards making a square.
Cascade Tetris- This was the other toughie. The "cascade" in the title refers to the chain-combo effect achieved by clearing one line and having the pieces above it clear another one as they fall down. For some reason, I found it quite difficult to strategically leave gaps in the stack of blocks after years of practice filling them. It feels similar to rival puzzler Puyo Pop on the Game Boy Advance (also marketed domestically on the SNES as Kirbys Avalanche), but the psychological effect of using Tetris blocks was oddly disconcerting.
Fusion Tetris- Last, but not least, Fusion was my favorite of the new additions. In this mode, a small piece called the "Fusion" block sits at the bottom of the playfield underneath several lines of rubbish. Your goal is to get special pieces called "Atom" blocks to physically touch the Fusion piece. When enough of them are chained together, an explosion caused by the critical mass clears the entire board. The challenge here is to quickly clear a path to the Fusion block before too many other pieces block your way.
In addition to this wide variety of different flavors, theres a story mode to challenge the skills of players who like goal-oriented games. Behind a wonky Sci-Fi pretense of using Tetris boards as interplanetary transport devices, you must meet specific achievement goals under very tight time limits. Do so, and you are rewarded with cutscenes depicting cubic aliens terraforming distant planets where the story mode takes place. Its a cute little novelty that adds a bit of character to an otherwise personality-free game, and the challenges are no joke.
In fact, I thought I was a good Tetris player until I got my rump handed to me several times over by these challenges. They start feeling impossibly hard once you hit level eight or nine, and there are fifteen for each mode. It doesnt interfere with the package as a whole because these story tasks arent required to enjoy the gameplay, but the anal-retentive side of me would have liked to polish them off. I gave up hope of this after a few days and resigned myself to enjoying the arcade mode. I dont need that kind of stress in my life.
Besides the ego-deflating difficulty curve of the story mode, something else worth mentioning is the terrible music. Im assuming that the developers chose audio that would fit with the sci-fi theme, but the selections here so new-age and spaced-out that it was hard to get into a good puzzle groove. Surprisingly, nowhere on the disc are the classic Russia-themed tunes that tend to be associated with the game, and I was definitely not down with the current selections. Id recommend having your own CDs or a radio on while you play.
Besides those two minor hiccups, Tetris Worlds is a comprehensive disc that provides an above-average amount of block-dropping entertainment. Most of the new interpretations of Alexei Pajitnovs masterpiece are well-done and different enough to add an appreciable amount of substance, and its my firm belief that every gamer worthy of the title needs to own at least one copy of his landmark creation. If you dont already have one, Tetris Worlds is an excellent version of an outstanding game.
Disclaimer: This review is based on the PlayStation 2 version of the game.
Worst. Tetris. Ever.
Well, the worst I've played, at least. Sure, it's still Tetris, so how bad can it be? Stripped to its core, it offers the blocks-keep-falling mania we all know so well, but it's such an over-licensed game that every new version seems to try to do something different. Tetris Worlds is no exception.
So, in essence, a review of any new Tetris must be a comparative review of what's been changed, rather than a review of the original game itself. Excluding the new game modes, which I'll touch on below, the remainder of the changes appear as several pieces of minutiae, inconsequential on their own, but adding up in sufficient quantity to destroy the game.
The playing field has a grid delineating the squares, and there's no way to disable it. The pieces are bright neon colors as they fall, but turn dark, nearly blending in with the gray background when finally placed. The low contrast is disappointing, as color is important in many of the alternate play modes, such as Sticky Tetris. Optional functions include previewing the next pieces, and a piece "ghost," or shadow of where it will be when placed. The former lets the player see the next six pieces—far too many!—and the coloration of the ghost was distracting enough that I didn't pay attention to much else. In all cases, pieces fall through at least two extra buffer rows before entering the playing field proper.
Yes, as Brad states, the music selection is poor and the Story mode is absurd. In contrast to Brad, I observed the cube avatar as just a nod to the popular style of borrowing settings or characters from fighting games. Rather than providing any sort of personality, though, I saw the avatars as completely generic and superfluous creatures, used mainly as attempted filler for the lack of new quality content.
Brad did a fine job of describing the new modes of play in Tetris Worlds in his main review, but I'm at odds with his claim that these modes alone are enough to give the game new life. The cubic avatars may not be all that was borrowed: most of the alternate game modes, such as Cascade and Square, seem to be the impure spawn of Tetris and other newer puzzle games, Puyo Puyo and Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo respectively, in this case. By attempting to mash so many puzzle game ideas together, the resultant stew is akin to Friday leftovers in any mess hall: it has a week's worth of ingredients, but still leaves a bad taste.
Multiplayer is where Tetris Worlds disappoints the most. It has the same game modes available, but only two types of competition, neither of which are described in the manual. "Knock-Out" stops the game every time one player completes a level, leaving "Race" with a smoother flow. It's a shame that the playing field for each player gets cleared as often as it does. Even worse is that there's only minimal interaction between players. It feels more like playing Tetris in parallel rather than competitively. There's no sense of urgency at all; it's actually boring.
The greatest disaster has to be the piece randomization. Every Tetris player surely knows the agony of waiting for a straight, long, and narrow piece to complete four lines, and Tetris Worlds doesn't fail there. Rather, it adds another agony: that of too many repeating pieces. In one game, I counted no less than 25 left-handed "S" pieces in a row, and it was not a freak occurrence. Brad's mention of the difficulty of the timed challenges remains true. With problems like this, is it any wonder it's difficult to clear 40 or more lines in the meager time limit allowed?
The distracting backgrounds, wide range of poor settings, and complete absence of anything really new make me wonder why anyone bothered to make Tetris Worlds. I suppose my question can be easily answered with common rhetoric, though. Tetris is such a classic game that a version should be available for every platform, and this is the first for the current generation of consoles. But even that won't stop me from asking: how can a Tetris game actually be this bad?
Disclaimer: This review is based on the GameCube version of the game.
Parents have absolutely nothing to fear. If there is a game that is safer and less offensive to play than Tetris, Id like someone to send me an email and let me know what it is.
Gamers in general would be wise to add this game to their library if they dont already own a copy of Tetris. Besides the new additions to the classic formula, up to four players can join in on some block-dropping battles. The screen starts getting a bit small with just two people, but just having the option is great.
Puzzle fans already know what Tetris is all about, and most likely already own at least one (if not more) versions of the phenomenon. Still, Tetris Worlds is worth looking into if you cant get enough of the game and are looking for new ways to play it.
Hearing-Impaired gamers might have a bit of trouble with Tetris Worlds. The challenge goals in story mode are spoken aloud without any text to clearly say what those goals are. You can figure it out by looking at some of the games peripheral information, but I dont see why Blue Planet couldnt have added a few simple lines of text to make the game equally accessible. Besides that one issue, the game has no other significant auditory information or cues.