The Zen of Tetris Review

Next Tetris, The Info

genre

  • N/A

players

  • 2 - 2

Publisher

  • Atari

Developer

  • N/A

Release Date

  • 01/01/1970
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PS

rating

The Zen of Tetris

If you play Tetris long enough, you get in the zone — and things suddenly

start to make sense. For example, have you ever thought how Tetris, in

a way, is a metaphor for life? Things starts out slow, but as you go on, life

starts to come at you faster, and it all becomes more difficult. Trouble comes

your way in different shapes and sizes, and you have to find a way to make it

all fit together, and then go on to the next task. And all this, my friend,

boils down to one thing: figuring out the best way to score.

A brand new Tetris has been released, hoping to succeed the former

as the almighty king of puzzle games. The Next Tetris retains the overall

look and feel of the classic, and tries to mix it up with new play elements,

like colored blocks and combos. Unfortunately, what you end up with is less

strategy, less fun, and quickly tiring.

Looking

at almost every object-based puzzle game of the past, there have always been

two major constructs: differences in shape and differences in color. A shape

puzzle game would be original Tetris. A color puzzle game would be Columns,

Puyo Puyo, or Puzzle Fighter.

Now let’s look at classic Tetris. The key to the game was clearing

away the lines to allow your openings and mistakes to be filled. If you made

a mistake, and left an opening somewhere, you had to find the quickest way fill

it or leave yourself vulnerable to making more mistakes. The cleaner you played,

the easier it was to create ‘tetrises’, clear lines, and score.

The Next Tetris retains the familiar tetrad shaped pieces, but the

difference is that sometimes the individual blocks are made up of different

colors. When two blocks of the same color touch one another, they bind together,

becoming a larger block. The different colored blocks will also fall sometimes

when you clear lines — if there is an opening and nothing else is holding the

block back, the different color block will keep falling until it lands. You

still rotate the blocks, and clear the board by completing lines. The central

goal isn’t to score points and clear lines, but to clear away enough junk pieces

in order to reach and clear the bottom line.

The different colors and separation of the blocks are supposed to encourage

combos. The problem is that you can’t plan very far ahead. With Puzzle Fighter

or Puyo Puyo, you developed a sense of how to set up your blocks for

combinations. In those games, you didn’t have to worry so much about fitting

the pieces in, because all pieces were uniform. In this game, because you still

have to worry about making complete lines, in addition to fitting pieces together,

and making sure certain same-color pieces don’t connect, what you end up with

is too much.

The

combos that you do pull off are most often accidental. There are times when

letting one block drop into a hole helps, but overall, it takes away from the

original simple, but solid strategy.

Remember how cool it was to work up your pieces, getting that straight block,

and pulling off a tetris? The game would then make a loud noise, and there’d

be abundant joy. Well, there aren’t any points to be scored in the main version

of this game — its been replaced by a ranking system. It takes away from the

importance of completing tetrises; by trying to emphasize the clearing of the

bottom line and combinations, the game play now feels more like a cleaning chore.

The original game has been included, but it’s just bare bones Tetris.

No options or different modes of play can be changed within it. That just shows

a real lack of effort. The original should’ve been treated better.

Aesthetically… its Tetris — How much can you really do? The choices

of colors are a bit drab. The blocks themselves are bright, contrasting heavily

with the dull surroundings. The backgrounds are supposed to be psychedelic,

but are really just a dark blur of colors. The music ranges from low grade re-mixes

of the classic Russian tunes, to bad techno. The game does allow you to play

your own CDs, which you’ll want to do.

Even the two player mode soesn’t have the strength to make it a really competitive

skills game. I really wanted to like this game, having loved the original so

much. But playing it on marathon mode for hours was just tedious. Even when

the speeds were high, I was still able to control the board easily. And then

when things got out of hand, there’d be all these accidental combos to clear

things up. It shouldn’t work that way.

I think there was a lot that could have been tweaked to make this game more

fun. They should’ve left the scoring element in. They should have added point

bonuses for clearing large areas of the same color. They could have even added

some elements of the rare Tengen Tetris for 8 bit Nintendo, like cooperative

play.

Truthfully, The Next Tetris isn’t really the “next” tetris. It’s just

a twist on the familiar game making it less fun to play. Clearing the bottom

line has been done before, but adding the accidental combos and removing a big

chunk of the strategy has hurt the game. If you want multi-player Tetris,

the network based Tetrinet is much more fun, and truer to its Tetris

roots. Then there’s Gameboy Tetris, Window’s Tetris, Tetris

Jr
, Acid Tetris… Life is good and doesn’t always need change.

REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

1.5
Rating
2 player game is better than just clearing junk
Combo strategy not as solid as classic
Weak graphics and music
There are better 2 player puzzle games
Wasted potential