Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars
Tetris – the very name evokes a smiling sort of nostalgia, the familiar scent of Russian music awakened in every true gamer’s consciousness. It is one of the classics among classics, a video game so genre-defining and culturally significant that decades later it still fosters familiar discussions.
The original hit on Game Boy was a killer app for the portable system from Nintendo, proving to be a smash success with millions of units sold and millions of players engaging in the falling-block adventure on planes, trains, buses, and their own homes. For the NES, there were actually two versions: The mainstream, stamp-approved title in the familiar gray cartridge; and the rebellious, more Soviet-tinged Tengen title in the differently styled cart. Since the differences between the two are ultimately minor, this review applies to each.Gameplay
The play is gloriously simple and ruthlessly efficient: As blocks fall from the top of the screen into the playing field, you can shift them left and right with the directional pad, along with holding the down button to drop them faster. Then, the A and B buttons can be used to rotate the pieces, with each designating a different direction.
The goal is to form horizontal lines by fitting the pieces together without gaps. Once one of these lines is formed, it is cleared for play, leaving more room for more pieces. If the pieces ever stack up to the top, the player loses and, hopefully, has registered a high score.
The challenge is that the pieces fall at an increasing rate of speed, making even skilled manipulation and fitting more difficult. This simple, timeless task has both enthralled and frustrated countless gamers around the world, and still stands as a pitch-perfect standard for other games, especially in the puzzle genre, to follow.
Although you would think a simple puzzle game would not need sharp appearances, Tetris actually has decent looks. Different levels use different color schemes for the pieces, and the entire experience definitely has a distinct feel to it. The environment is appropriately inviting without being altogether distracting.
One of the famous institutions of Tetris is its soundtrack, featuring lofty cadences with a thoroughly Eastern European feel, which is already quite an accomplishment for an 8-bit puzzler. The tracks certainly have an earworm quality to them, since players can vividly recall the melodies even decades later. Also, the game features a secondary track: A sped-up version of the music plays when you reach a certain height in the playfield. Otherwise, the sound effects themselves are basic but perfect, executing in brisk, crisp fashion.
Creativity and Innovation
Tetris redefined the “puzzle game” genre. That feat, alone, should well summarize its influence and place in history. Although it was revolutionary at the time, its basic falling-block formula has now been repeated and imitated hundreds of times for both its sequel successors and shameless copycats.
Overall, the video game Tetris is perfect. It provides hours upon hours of replay value, it is competitive, it was developed tightly and well, even its minor details are without flaw. Often put at or near the top of many “greatest games of all times” list, Tetris is one of those rare titles that thoroughly deserves the highest rating of five stars out of five.