Review by Retro

Reviewed: 05/05/01 | Updated: 03/19/03

Tetris = definition of addicting

When the Game Boy's Tetris (the original version of the classic) first showed its face to the world in 1989, it sent a shockwave throughout the globe and almost every gaming soul was instantly hooked on it. I remember playing it for the first time while it was on display at the local Wal-Mart and I couldn't believe what happened. I fell in love with the game right away. It wasn't because the blocks were good looking; it was the fact that guiding shapely blocks around a boxed-in area and making rows disappear was just that damn addicting. This was puzzling because I had never been that big of a fan of puzzle games, and I'm still not.

First off, there are four different species of blocky shapes that fall down from the top of the screen. Each of the four varieties consists of four blocks that are arranged together to form a certain shape such as a straight line, a perfectly square box, three segments in a straight line with one block jutting out on one side, and some that have two pairs of blocks put together with one pair being slightly higher or lower than the other. With all of the shapes except for the square boxes, you can press A or B on your Game Boy to force them to rotate around to a different position.

Before you even think about changing the block's shape, you must first choose exactly where you want to place it on the playing field below. When both hemispheres of your brain come together as one and decide precisely where to put a piece, you just have to move it left or right, and then wait for it to fall in place or press down if you're feeling a bit impatient.

The point in selecting the shapes' destinies as to where they're going to live on the portable screen is not to produce works of art. Instead, your goal is to form solid rows out of the various free-falling pieces. Upon forming a complete row, the series of blocks that make up the row will disappear from the screen altogether. If there's even one blank space encompassing a row, it won't disappear until you fill in that pesky little bald spot. You can make anywhere from one to four entire lines disappear at a time. If you make four lines (the maximum) disappear at once, then you just got yourself a tetris. The idea of annihilating lines of blocks is to make room for more blocks that are yet to come. As soon as even a tiny hair of a block touches the top of the screen, your game will be over.

There are two different kinds of engaging games to choose from in Tetris. In the first game, you can start at any level 0-9 and work your way up. For every ten complete rows that you create, you will be promoted to the next level. For instance, once you make ten lines, you will go from level 0 to level 1, at twenty lines you go to level 2, and so on. As you progress through the levels, the force of gravity gets stronger and stronger, making the shapes fall like a 5000-pound bomb. Once your game is over (it will end eventually :-þ), you can put in your name if you earned a score that's worthy of praise.

The second game is a lot different, but just as challenging. In this type of game, you get to select which level you start on (in other words, at what speed the blocks will fall), whether it's as low as 0 or as high as 9, and your duty is to put together 25 lines. You can also opt to have anywhere from one to five rows of scattered blocks on the screen when you start, or you can choose not to have any. If you're good enough to build 25 lines, the game will end and you will be able to put in your name on the honorable high score list while you catch a breather.

Not only can you choose from two different types of games in Tetris, you can also choose from three different musical tunes that will play while you're trying to assemble a record high score for yourself. If you think music would break your concentration or if you don't like the music, you can make it where you won't even hear a single note play. Also, if you have a friend that also has a Game Boy, you can always play a competitive two-player game.

Since the regular Game Boy is just black and white, don't try to force your eyes to see any vibrant colorful graphics. Just because they're not in color doesn't mean that they can't be good, however. The title screen is composed of extraordinary graphics for the time with the tops of buildings inhabiting the night sky while the moon and stars shine down on them. The game's layout and the blocks look basic, but they get the job done without being hard on the eyes. The sound effects are also what you'd call basic, but they're not bad in any sense. I especially like the sound it makes when you get a tetris; now that's what I call a classic sound! There are three different tunes to choose from and I like all three of them, especially the first one, because it adds even more adrenaline to the gameplay's atmosphere.

Controlling the various shapes is very easy to master. All you have to do is move the blocks left and right with the directional pad, press A or B to rotate them, and then either let them fall on their own or press down to make them fall faster. As with most video games, you can also press Start to pause the game at any time. Is that easy enough?

I don't know what it is about Tetris, but it is a textbook example of a game that can be overly addicting. Even if you're not much of a puzzle video game fan (I don't dig the genre that much), give Tetris a fair chance if you haven't already. You'll see why it was a major smash as soon as it premiered on displays and why it's still praised these days as being the king of puzzle titles. How many other games do you know of that have spawned as many sequels as Tetris?

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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