Tetris
  • Genre:
    • Puzzle
  • Platform:
    • Game Boy
  • Developer:
    • Bullet-Proof Software
  • Publisher:
    • Nintendo
  • Released:
    • JP 06/14/1989
    • US July 1989
    • UK 09/28/1990
Score: 80%

This review was published on 02/09/2015.

Tetris is a puzzle video game developed by Bullet-Proof Software and published by Nintendo for the original Game Boy. It was released in Japan on June 14, 1989, North America in July 1989, and Europe on September 28, 1990. There was also a Game Boy Color version called Tetris DX released in Japan on October 21, 1998, North America on November 18, 1998, and Europe on July 1, 1999. Countless more ports and remakes of Tetris were released for a plethora of other platforms; listing them all here would take forever. Of all the versions out there, the Game Boy version was the most popular, selling over 35 million copies. Nintendo saw the potential in Tetris and decided to bundle it with the Game Boy in North America. This is also the first Game Boy game to be compatible with the Game Link Cable, an accessory that enabled two Game Boys to link together for some multiplayer fun. Designed by a Russian scientist named Alexey Pajitnov in the mid-to-late 1980s, Tetris is perhaps the best puzzle game ever created.

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So what's Tetris actually about? Well, given its reputation, you probably already know what it's about, but I'll explain it anyway. Blocks of various shapes and sizes will fall from the top of the screen and you can move or rotate them as they descend. Once a block hits the bottom, that's it; you're forced to control the next block in line. The objective is to clear blocks by forming horizontal lines. It doesn't matter what color or shape the blocks are, so long as they form a complete line. Any blocks that were above the cleared line will automatically fall downwards once the line disappears, though this will never result in a chain reaction of line clears. If too many blocks fill the screen, then you lose. It's a simple, yet elegant system that somehow never gets old. It's got plenty of depth despite its simplicity. These basic rules allow just about anyone to get into the game, both beginners and experts alike. Back in the Game Boy days, even moms played Tetris! Some were quite good at it, too. When a game can attract even non-gamers, then you know that it's serious business.

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Clearing singular lines is great and all, but there are ways to expedite the process. It's possible to clear multiple lines in a row if the player is a delightful dandy. Accomplishing such a task awards the player with additional points and is just fun to do. This is where the shapes of the blocks truly come into play. There are a finite number of shapes that will appear, and the player must be familiar with all of them to clear multiple lines. Only a maximum of four lines can be cleared at a time. Because of that, the straight line piece is one of the most important ones, as that's the only way of getting four lines cleared at once. Players will need to think and act quickly to fit all the blocks in a way that results in many lines being cleared. There are even a number of strategies that more proficient players may memorize. These advanced mechanics prevent Tetris from going stale despite its repetitive nature, as the game is easy to get into, but hard to master. That's the mark of a good puzzle game.

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There are two game modes in the Game Boy iteration of Tetris called Type-A and Type-B. The first one, Type-A, is the traditional endless mode prevalent in so many other puzzlers. This mode is essentially an endurance test, as it goes on forever and tests your ability to get the highest score possible before losing, and it gets progressively harder. It also keeps track of how many lines you cleared, which is nice. However, Type-B changes up the rules slightly. Type-B tasks you with clearing 25 lines and getting the highest possible score while doing so, but there are other options to make this mode more challenging. Besides the speed settings, you can set it so that the playing field starts with a certain amount of blocks already placed. These blocks have lots of awkward gaps in them, so clearing them isn't easy. The fact that Type-B has an actual goal to it instead of going on endlessly will make it more enjoyable for some people. It's also possible to pick different music, though the primary track is the best. All in all, while there aren't too many modes of play, there are just enough to hit the spot.

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As mentioned earlier, the Game Boy version of this game is compatible with the Link Cable and thus has a two player mode available. In the Game Boy's multiplayer mode, each player will assume the role of one of the Mario brothers; player one is Mario and player two is Luigi. The two players will go toe-to-toe in a competitive Tetris match. Both players will have to clear lines of falling blocks just like they would in the regular game, and whoever clears 30 lines first wins. There are other, much faster ways to win, though. The other primary method to win is to make the opponent lose by filling their screen with blocks. This is accomplished by clearing many lines at once. The more lines cleared at once, the more blocks get sent to the opponent. The overall victor is decided by whoever wins five matches first. Tetris is already a good time on its own, and it's substantially more fun with a friend.

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Tetris is one of the most significant video games of all time and it has attained legendary status as a puzzler. This is the quintessential definition of a puzzle game, being very easy for beginners to get into while still managing to entertain experts. Also, the music is incredibly catchy, which is a very good thing for a puzzle game. Out of all the versions out there, the Game Boy release of Tetris is considered to be the best one by many. Even Alexey Pajitnov considers it his favorite version, and he's the freaking creator. Like Pac-Man before it, Tetris is a historic game that will be remembered for generations to come.

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