Wow. It is hard for me to believe that gamers have been playing the game of Tetris for 30 years. We have been, though, and in a ton of different forms. I challenge you to name a system or device that hasn’t run Alexey Pajitnov’s puzzler in the past three decades. If you can name it, there has been a port for the device, including graphic calculators and the simplest of cellular phones. Guiness World Records recognizes the game as being the most ported video game of all time, gracing more than 65 different platforms officially.
I have argued to people before how Tetris could be the definition of the perfect video game. It is an extremely simple and incredibly effective concept that promotes nearly endless replay value. How else can you explain the amount of times that it has been ported to a new generation or device? It wouldn’t happen if there wasn't a demand for it, and after 30 years the demand is still there. Here we are in 2015 and we have yet another version of the game in the form of Tetris Ultimate.
In the latest version, the core gameplay experience hasn’t changed; then again, how can it, really? You have your traditional gameplay area and tetrimonoes continuously fall from the sky. You can move and rotate them in either direction as they descend to the floor. Your goal, of course, is to make a solid, horizontal line which clears the blocks from the screen. It is a simple formula that has fueled one of the industry’s most timeless games. It all feels fine here and nothing is done in an attempt to mix things up that hasn’t already been done before, such as having the option to hold a piece back and use it whenever you choose.
There are a variety of customization options in terms of the gameplay that will allow players to tailor their experience to their liking. Things such as the hold option (setting a piece aside for later use) that I mentioned, and being able to spin a piece endlessly at the bottom of the screen, can be toggled on or off. This may not sound like much but it really changes things for Tetris fanatics. I, for one, am not a fan of either feature and feel that they really altered the game’s formula when they were introduced, so I go for the purest form of the game. It’s nice being able to change things around a bit so easily to make it more akin to the classic game I grew up on.
Just as the core gameplay has made the transition to this version, so have the standard modes of the franchise. The solo options consist of everything that we see in a traditional Tetris title: marathon (play up to level difficulty level 15), endless, Sprint (clear 40 lines as quickly as possible), and Ultra (three-minute time limit). A majority of these are locked when you first start the game, so you have to play through the various modes in order to open up the experience. It is all simple, standard-order stuff and it all plays exactly as you would expect. There are really no complaints to be had in the performance here.
On the multiplayer end of things, however, there are some steps taken to introduce new concepts to the world of Tetris. Multiplayer options are available in both competitive and cooperative flavors, both online and off. I am just going to say it up front: online play isn’t enjoyable in the slightest. The lag is more often than not unbearable, and the experience is bad enough to turn you off of the game as a whole. Every once in awhile you will land a decent game that performs well enough to be enjoyable, but it is a test of your patience to get through the repeated horrible games to get to one. Your best bet is to stick to local play with your friends and family if you want to play with others.
Multiplayer can be a lot of fun with a good group of friends. There are plenty of game modes available that range from standard, straight forward Tetris to including powerups that help you inhibit your opponents and fill their grids with garbage. The cooperative modes make things even more interesting as your grids overlap a bit and there is a small, shared portion of the field. These aren’t drastic alterations to the formula and are a ton of fun when things run smoothly, which is primarily offline.
There are mainly two issues to be had with the game. First off, it does very little to alter the Tetris formula. I was not expecting any groundbreaking gameplay alterations, but the package comes across about as vanilla as a Tetris game can come. The only area that does make an attempt to do something different is the multiplayer and it is basically broken in its online functionality. The game supports DLC according to the main menu, so there could be additional modes and options coming, but unless they fix the online portion of the game, such additions wouldn’t really warrant a purchase. Unless they want to offer a new music pack, because the background music of the game is bland and doesn’t fit in with the experience.
In the end, it is a generally solid Tetris port and really nothing more. We’ve played this a million times before (ok, just 65 according to Guinness) and have seen far better packages bearing the franchise name. If you want to have access to the game to bide your time playing solo, then it is a decent $10 to spend, but beyond that, save your money. However, if they can ever work out the kinks that hinder the online multiplayer, then it could be a lot more enjoyable.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Guess who's back!!! If you have been here before, you know the basics: lifelong gamer, father, and of course, former certified news monkey. I still consider myself all of those things, just maybe not in the grand scale that I once did. I’ve been blogging on the industry for more than decade now, in some form or another. It wasn't until I landed here at Gaming Nexus that I really dove in head first. Now, writing about games has become what I do for fun (and sometimes work) and something I intend on doing until the day I die (in some form or another).
I'm a huge fan of just about everything you can interact with using a controller, no matter how old or new, good or bad. If you put it in front of me, I will play it (at least once).