what is there to say about tetris that hasn’t already been said? even though i’ve become a big fan of such successors as puyo puyo and panel de pon in more recent years, the original tetris is every bit as great almost 20 years since it appeared on the original game boy. although its descendants have become full of such added bells ‘n whistles as chains and items, the original is so beautifully pure, elegant, and classic. like my recent revisit of the classic game galaga i had a great time revisiting tetris and just being reminded of how perfect it is and enjoying how much the gameplay still holds up.
in terms of specific thoughts, this time around i was really struck with how tetris provides such different aspects of gameplay within such a simple framework. previously i’d been mostly focused on the satisfaction that you get in neatly fitting pieces together, much like the satisfaction one gets when filling in a sudoku grid. this time i found myself noticing how there are other emotional triggers as well. at the center is the constant feeling of gambling, where you’re constantly having to decide if you can afford to wait for the long piece to get a much higher score by clearing four lines at once. there’s also the strategy involved in always keeping a backup plan in case the piece you’re waiting for just isn’t coming. i also found myself personifying the pieces in a way i hadn’t really thought of much before, with the “s” and “z” shapes soon taking on the roles as my nemeses, and the “t” and the “i” pieces becoming my saviors.
another thing i noticed more this time around was how different the gameplay becomes when you’re focused on high scores versus when you’re focused on just surviving (e.g. at the later speedier levels and in the “game b”, garbage-clear mode), and i was also surprised at how much getting a great score in the game is based on the luck of the pieces that you get. this seems particularly apparent to me in the most difficult “game b” mode, level 9 height 5. i’d be fairly surprised if there are tetris masters who can beat that level every single time. but i also felt this way in the regular mode, b/c you only have a finite amount of time to score the maximum number of points you can before you hit level 20, where you have to be pretty fleet of finger to stay alive.
as a completist it will def. be interesting to me to see the variations, sometimes minute, in other versions of the game (e.g. size of the well, the differences in the frequencies of each particular piece, the speed the pieces drop), but it’ll be tough for anything to even come close to challenging the place the classic original game boy version holds in my, and i’m sure many others’, little gaming heart. (awww.)
tons of tetr-links:
– the entry at wikipedia has a lot of interesting info, including the controversy over the copyright, the “tetris effect”, and some info on the mathematical probabilities of being unable to win at tetris
– list of tetris variants, which includes another of the creator’s games, hatris, which in this video just looks wretched.
– tetris doesn’t really need a FAQ, but here’s one from IGN that includes info on the scoring system. the FAQ doesn’t seem completely accurate, though, w/ regard to the diff. endings you get in endless mode. there’s a comment on this youtube video that mentions there are diff. rockets for 100-150k, 150-200k, and 200k+ points, and i’m pretty sure s/he’s correct.
– tetris mastery video clips to make you feel inadequate at racketboy.com, including some guy’s video of game b level 9 height 5 in the hard (i.e. heart) mode. that guy’s skills will amaze you. the same guy also has a great half hour-long video getting the maximum number of points (999,999). yes, my choice in heroes is unbelievably dorky.
– great tetris comic you’ve prob. already seen at perry bible fellowship