Brick By Brick –
Now over 30 years old, Tetris is still fun to play today.
Tetris Party, an exclusive WiiWare downloadable title released in 2008, and its boxed retail alternative Tetris Party Deluxe (Wii and DS) were the best Tetris titles in years, outfitted with tons of new game types, multiplayer options, and online play. Unfortunately, all online support for original Wii and DS titles have long been shut down so gamers have to look elsewhere to get their Tetris multiplayer fix. Here is where Tetris Ultimate fits in. While not as robust as Tetris Party, this Ubisoft published version of this time-tested puzzle favorite is still entertaining, well put together, and thoughtful.
Instead of including creative game types, like Tetris Party’s Race Mode, Wii Balance Board control, or double wide screened co-op option, Tetris Ultimate still has plenty of reasons to keep coming back with several game types designed for newbies as well as long time pros.
Marathon, Endless and Battle modes are basically the game types everyone has always played and are still just as fun. But modes like Ultra, which has the goal of earning as many points in a three minute round, and Sprint, which has players clearing 40 lines as fast as possible, are built with the handheld environment in mind. The Master mode that drops pieces instantly, Rotation Lock mode that doesn’t allow pieces to be rotated, and Invisible mode are designed for long time players who need a new challenge after mastering Tetris over the years. Battle Ultimate also introduces new power-ups to multiplayer matches and provides some extra spice on this tried-but-true game format. The good news is this version of Tetris does not force awkward touch screen controls into the mix.
It is also important to highlight the clean UI and accurate play control. The main menu system is easily navigated with every option you might want to tweak available. For example, don’t want to mistakenly push up on the d-pad to make pieces instantly drop; no problem, turn it off. Think ghosting is unfair, then toggle that switch. Even the tutorial does a quality job of teaching the player everything from basic moves to advanced slide maneuvers and combos. Moving the pieces with the d-pad is also solid and accurate; if a piece gets jammed into a bad position it is your own fault. It is a little unfortunately that the 3DS Circle Pad isn’t a control option but understandable given the type of play control that Tetris demands. Controlling the falling pieces with the d-pad, again, is incredibly accurate and just feels oh so right.
My one major complaint with this new edition of this 30 year old puzzle game is the soundtrack. After all, what would a Tetris game be without the famous Tetris theme to hum along to? It is too bad this remixed version tries too hard to be something it is not and is nowhere near as enjoyable as the original. On the other hand, the sound effects, like when a piece moves or a line clears, actually makes the play control feel more accurate and firm. The 3D effects don’t really do much but they don’t have to. The solid-colored outer space-ish theme gets the job done visually and Miis are supported but is nowhere near as charming as Nintendo’s Tetris DS.
It is just a bummer that more people were not playing online as I was only able to find a few basic Battle matches against one other person by the time of this review. While I was unable to test out the 8-player online matches, the 1v1 matches ran smoothly without any hiccups or lag; getting into a match was also very quick. Hopefully more players will start playing online because wasting the opportunity to play 8-player multiplayer Tetris is a terrible thing not to take advantage of. Also, the game keeps track of pretty much all stats for bragging rights and to acknowledge how much time has been spent playing this addicting game. It is just another reason to keep coming back for more.
Tetris Ultimate, while not as robust as the WiiWare version of Tetris Party despite having a similar look and feel, is still a solid game that any Tetris fan will enjoy. The soundtrack will probably disappoint but the gameplay will undoubtedly entertain.
Tetris Ultimate will be available for Xbox One, PS4, PC, and Vita in late 2014 or early 2015.
Not As Good As: Tetris Party
Reminds Me Of: Tetris DS (the Nintendo version with classic Nintendo characters/themes)
Also Try: 4-player Puyo Pop (GBA)
By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com