Tetris. I mean… What more is there to say? It’s sort of THE video game, isn’t it? Like, my mom doesn’t know a Bomberman from a Bomb-omb, but she knows Tetris. It’s a game we’ve all spent time with, and generally love. I think when we think of what a ‘puzzle game’ is, Tetris is the first game that comes to mind. While I personally prefer match-3 or tile puzzlers, Tetris is likely the one game I’ve spent the most time with. It’s that classic combination of easy to understand, hard to master. From the classic Game Boy pack-in, to flash versions you played at the school library, to the stellar Tetris DS, to the amazing Tetris Effect, it’s a basic game that really just keeps going and improving.
In many ways, Tetris Plus feels like the first proper sequel to the original game. Tetris 2, V-Tetris, and Tetris Attack feel more like spin-offs, side projects, or even renamed games from Japan. There are 19 games between Tetris on the Game Boy to Tetris Plus, and it feels like they finally get it right. It’s got the standard Tetris gameplay but throws in a few more bells and a couple whistles to make it a fantastic package.
Along with the classic Tetris mode, which even gets a few updates of its own, the bulk of the game places a puzzle mechanic into the mix. In Puzzle Mode, you have to get a character, The Professor, to drop to the bottom of the stage from a pre-set arrangement of blocks. The Professor also walks around and climbs on top of blocks, and requires a gap of two spaces to fall. It’s a different twist that really made me think differently about the game. It can often be more than ‘how can I make a line,’ but trying to think a few steps ahead to work with the given geometry. It takes some time to get into the right mindset to understand that the quickest way to your goal isn’t erasing lines, but it’s so satisfying when you hit it. It’s also pretty tough. Even set to easy, at time of writing I’m only on Level 19. I’m not always a fan of ‘the core game with a spin,’ but this one works well.
The game is pretty cheap and easy to find, with options to make your own puzzle stages as well. It’s like Mario Maker, but everything is a block and you can only play Tetris. It’s got a decent challenge, both in Classic and Puzzle modes, and just really feels like an evolution in the series. Other Tetris gems are Tetris DX and Tetris DS, but those are games for another time…
D’Arcy is an educator and gamer from BC, Canada. He’s been gaming his entire life and enjoys both new and retro games. His consoles of choice are Game Boy, PS3, and Switch.You can follow his gaming online @darcyska_gaming