Tetris Plus+ – D’arcy Briggs

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

July 2021-Tetris Plus (1997)

Oh Hello!

Ian here to announce this month’s game! It seems like I’ll be filling this role each month in the future. Thrilled to be here! 

Ahem…In July you will be playing Tetris Plus. I’ve never done so and therefore cannot explain what makes it plussier than regular Tetris, but Yokoi Dad Rick V. has given me assurance this one is a swell time. A quick Google search tells me it has an extra mode in which players must eliminate lines to help guide a professor to the bottom of the level. I have a feeling any high score chasing on social media among the Yokoi Kids will revolve around this mode, but feel free to play however you like.
It was picked by Jack who had this to say about it:
The year is 1996, and the venerable Game Boy is awash with Tetris sequels attempting to cash in on Alexey Pajitnov’s magnum opus. The Nintendo-developed Tetris 2 failed to capture the same lightning in a bottle as the original, and both Tetris Attack and Tetris Blast were just reskins of unrelated puzzle games. Then along came Tetris Plus, arguably the first worthy successor to The Game Boy’s most famous pack-in title.

A port of the Natsume developed arcade game of the same name, Tetris Plus takes the elements that made the original Game Boy Tetris great and adds a little charm and personality for good measure. The main event of Tetris Plus is puzzle mode, starring “The Professor,” a squat archaeologist with subpar climbing skills and a tenuous grasp on self-preservation. Dr. Jones this man is not. Each screen in this mode presents you with a different pattern of bricks that must be cleared for the Prof. to escape the steadily falling spiked ceiling and reach safety at the bottom of the screen. The Professor will attempt to descend to the lowest point on a given stack, but will also climb closer to his death if he is boxed in by a falling block. This is easily the game’s most challenging and frustrating mechanic, and will make The Professor the bane of many players’ existence. Puzzles are split into four worlds of twenty levels each with the final world unlocked after completing the first four. The game includes a battery-backed save feature that will save your high scores and allow you to pick up the adventure where you left off.

Traditional Tetris gameplay is represented here by classic mode and, while the gameplay will be familiar to anyone acquainted with the original, subtle refinements make the play experience far smoother. Though it lacks modern Tetris staples like the hard drop and tetromino swapping, the core experience is still solid. Sadly missing is the traditional Tetris tune Korobeiniki (also known as Type A) but in its place are a number of original compositions that are catchy enough but don’t distract from the gameplay. 

Overall, Tetris Plus provides a captivating and unique experience that is a welcome addition to the Game Boy library. It will always live in the shadow of its famous older brother, but it is a bright spot in puzzle game history that should not be forgotten.
As always any contributions can come in whatever form you desire, whether you want to make Tetris fanfiction, write a song, cosplay as the professor… anything that you can make thematic. Have fun and get stacking!  

When he’s not dodging spiked ceilings, Jack likes to mod consoles in his spare time and he has yet to mangle a Gameboy beyond repair. Follow him on Twitter @GameboyCruller for occasional bits of amusement.


Tetris – EpicLuca Reviews.

  Really, I have no idea what in the world to say about Tetris, except that the NES version was one of the first two games I ever played, and I feel spoiled from all of the modern games after going back and playing this with none of the helpful additions that the later games have. – Luca

You can check out more of EpicLuca’s stuff over at Gamebreaker Studios where they also did a Tetris score attack.