One of the newer game apps on Facebook, currently growing in popularity, is “Tetris Battle.” Although the game has long been popular, and usually gives you the option to compete one-on-one, this is a different experience.
Wait, I’m a Newbie!
OK, if you’ve never played Alexey Pajitnov’s brilliantly simple (but endlessly challenging) puzzle game before, you may want to play a more basic version before trying these Facebook editions, due to their challenge level. Nonetheless, the basic rules are:
1. You score points by making rows of pieces on “The Matrix,” which is the grid on which the game takes place.
2. If you make more than one row at a time, you score more points.
3. Making four rows at a time is called a “Tetris,” which in a normal game would be worth the most points.
4. As in most variations of Tetris, Tetris Battle and Tetris Friends feature the classic “Tetriminoes,” which are the various shapes that fall from the top of the screen. There are seven, usually referred to as the “I” (a.k.a. “stick”); “J” (a.k.a. “Gamma”); “L” (a.k.a. “gun”); “O” (a.k.a. “square” or “block”); “S” (a.k.a. “inverted N” or “S-zigzag”); “Z” (a.k.a. “Z-zigzag” or “snake”); and “T,” which is a row of blocks with one added below the center, according to “Tetris is Hard, Even to Approximate,” by Erik D. Demaine, et. al.
Play the Slots
Once you add the Tetris Battle app to your Facebook profile, you can play the Daily Bonus, which is essentially a slot machine. However, the difference between Tetris and Vegas is that these slots aren’t out to steal your money; each time, you have a good chance of winning Tetris coins, Tetris cash, or “Energy,” which enables you to continue playing for free.
This is important, because if your energy runs out, the game forces you to task your friends for Energy, or literally pay cash to gain more (which is a bit more like Vegas). On Mondays, you only play one slot; on Tuesdays, two, and so on.
What Are My Options?
If you opt to play “Sprint” mode, your objective is to clear 40 lines faster than your opponents. In a sense, this mode is easier for beginners, because you only compete against three other players, and they don’t have the ability to drop pieces on you in the middle of play.
So, essentially, Sprint mode is just basic Tetris, the main difference being that there are no levels. The winner, as stated above, is whoever clears 40 lines first. Whenever a player finishes, a whistle blows, and her time is listed above the picture of her Matrix.
As in all Tetris Battle modes, finishing a competition in Sprint can earn you Stars, which help you advance in rank. Conversely, finishing in a lower spot will cause you to lose Stars. On the plus side, even if you place lower, you still gain Experience Points (XP), which influence who you play against in each game.
Battle Mode 2 Player
Tetris “Battle” mode, which some might argue is more popular, means that you compete head-to-head against at least one other player for two minutes.
In 2 Player (2P) mode, you and a single opponent try to overpower one another by dropping pieces on each other. The more lines you clear at once, naturally, the more you’ll send to your opponent. Be warned: clearing only a single line does not send it to your opponent! Clearing four lines at once, on the other hand, is called a “Tetris,” according to Tetris Friends, where you can play all of the variations available on Facebook, and more.
Battle Mode 6 Player
6P mode is similar to 2P mode, except that you’re now playing against five other opponents, and at any moment, one or more of them could pile on the blocks!
At your right, you’ll see the other players’ games in progress. There are cross hairs which focus on a new player’s board every second or so; when you complete two or more lines at once, these are sent to whichever unfortunate opponent is targeted.
When time runs out, the winner is determined by several factors:
1. KO’s: If you manage to force an opponent to the top of his screen by dropping blocks, then you will earn a “KO,” which is the #1 determining factor in wins. Nonetheless, if several players KO someone, then there are other factors that have weight.
2. # of lines sent: If you send more lines than your opponents, this definitely helps your ranking.
3. Height: The “height” the shapes reach on your Matrix is the final factor. The lower the stack, the more points you earn toward winning.
NOTE: Because your ranking at the end of the game determines how many stars you earn, if you beat your opponents in all three of the above categories, you will earn three stars (“overpowering the opponent”).
When you first begin Tetris Battle, one of the options says, “Bombs: On.” This means that when your opponents send you lines, you can then return the favor by setting off “bombs” embedded within the lines.
The bombs appear as small, flashing “nuclear energy” symbols (which will be quite obvious when playing). Hit one of these with a Tetrimino, and it will explode, sending the entire line back to your opponent.
On the Map
For advanced players who want an extra layer of challenge, you can set a “Map” on your Matrix beforehand, meaning there will be blocks preset at the start of the game. Personally, I don’t recommend this, as it can become very frustrating, particularly when playing against expert opponents. Of course, they too will have the same obstacle in their Matrix. If you’re up to it, go for it!
Tetris Friends: Almost Every Option Open?
At Tetris Friends, you can find every variation of Tetris Battle and more. Some of these other games are also available for play on Facebook. Here are a few examples:
Another variation on the original Tetris game, the objective in Tetris Marathon is simply to rack up points, as per the instructions at the beginning. Whenever you complete more than one line, a female voice says “Double,” “Triple,” or “Tetris!” Of course, you have the option to turn this voice off if it annoys you.
While not available on Facebook, Tetris Arena is very similar to Tetris Battle, in that it allows you to play against five other players (whether strangers or people on your Friends list). Like in Tetris Battle, Arena ranks the winners by the number of lines cleared, KO’s achieved, and height of the blocks.
A throwback to the ’89 Nintendo Game Boy version of Tetris, “Tetris 1989” is ideal for those who like their game simple, without any of the modern bells and whistles. The game is black-and-white, and even uses analog-like sound effects; it’s sure to give a sense of nostalgia to playing Tetris.
Similar to Tetris Marathon, Survival is a single-player endurance game. Once again, you’re trying to rack up points; at left, a meter tracks how many lines you need to complete in order to advance a level. And yes, the female narrator is back again.
While hopefully easier than managing a business, Tetris, like most puzzle games, requires a fair bit of strategy. Knowing all of the above rules is helpful, but here are a few other tips:
Hard Drop vs. Soft Drop
Two of the most basic techniques to master in Tetris are the “hard drop” and the “soft drop.” The “hard drop,” at least in Tetris Battle and most of its variants, is accomplished by pressing the Spacebar. All this means is that the shape will instantly drop to the bottom of the Matrix (or the top of the block stack).
The “soft drop,” on the other hand, is accomplished using the down arrow on your keyboard; this still makes the shape fall faster, but not instantly. It’s often better to use the soft drop when your Matrix is piled high with blocks, should you make a mistake.
However, when in the midst of competition (e.g. “Tetris Battle”), it’s best to master the hard drop to build up speed. Once you have the hang of both, alternate between them as you see fit.
One of the more difficult moves to learn is the “T-Spin,” achieve using the “T” block. Although hard to explain without a visual example, the T-Spin is used to fill T-shaped gaps in your blocks that cannot be filled by simply dropping the piece inside.
What you must do is wait for a T-block, then drop it partway down the gap of blocks until it reaches T-shaped area, at which point you need to rotate it continuously until it fits “to a T” (no pun intended). To see what I’m referring to, watch this video clip: Tetris 101: How to T-Spin.
Keep an Eye Out
Because you can watch your opponents’ games in Tetris Battle, it’s important to notice when one or more begin to reach the top of their Matrix. If you have a stack of blocks ready to send over, and you see an opponent struggling, then that’s your best chance to launch it!
The only drawback to this approach is that waiting around for an opponent to have his Matrix overfilled can leave you vulnerable to attack from other players. So keep this in mind.
Ready to Play?
Once you have the hang of the rules and strategy, you’ll probably find a favorite among the many variants of the game. So join in…just don’t let your boss catch you.