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by THQ

People have been trying to improve upon Tetris since its debut on the original Game Boy almost 15 years ago. Unfortunately, those who have attempted to improve upon the original have failed to realize that one cannot improve upon perfection. The original Tetris wanted for nothing. There was no need for color, 3D rendering or surround sound. The game was built with the system’s limitations in mind. The appeal of the game was universal. I haven’t yet met a person who could put Tetris down after clearing only a few levels. This is a game that you play until your fingers hurt. The question is what can the current generation of consoles add to the Tetris experience? The answer is not much. Sure there are some flashy graphics when you hit a Tetris, and the backgrounds are moderately interesting, but frills have never made a game better. Frills just make a game more frilly.

I wouldn’t have minded this game so much if it had just been a straightforward Tetris games with a little color and flash. There was nothing about the game that needed to be changed. Changing the rules in Tetris is akin to allowing chess pawns more freedom of movement. It undermines the strategy and makes a compelling and complex game seem prosaic. Tetris Worlds has a hold box that allows you to hold a particular piece for later placement in the game. It also gives you a silhouette of the current falling piece at the bottom of the screen that shows you exactly where your piece will land and how it will fit. Both the hold box and the falling silhouette can be turned off. However, there is one addition to the game that cannot be altered. I call it the infinite spin. As long as you are spinning a piece it will never lock into place and you will be allowed to move it from side to side. This one little change in the structure of the game just makes it too easy.

The game’s graphics are somewhat pretty, which isn’t always a good thing. In fact, there were times during my play where the effects were so flamboyant that they actually distracted me from my current falling piece. A game like Tetris didn’t need anything more than the falling blocks. There are six different worlds with animated backgrounds.

To add a little bit of variety to the mix, Tetris includes a number of variations of Tetris. These are mildly entertaining modes of play, but you will always return to the original. Hot line Tetris has you clearing rows higher and higher on the board for bonuses. There’s a cascade version of the game that incorporates gravity into the mix when you clear a level. Tetris also allows for up to four player simultaneous play.

I am of the ilk that Tetris is a game that should be included with every console or handheld system we purchase. A simple version of the game should just be built into the system’s onboard memory for those times when we tire of the latest first person shooter. So, I have to admit that I resent having to buy essentially the same game again and again.

My sister bought a little LCD Tetris game for her key chain a few years ago for about 6 bucks. It was a simple black and white screen a little bigger than my thumb. There was one mode of gameplay, and it was more than enough. Tetris Worlds is the least entertaining version of Tetris that I have played. It was less entertaining than on my PC and less entertaining than on a game boy. I even had more fun playing Tetris on my roommate’s graphing calculator back in college. So, if you have another version of Tetris lying around the house, you would do well to avoid the current incarnation.

Jason Frank   (08/30/2002)


Ups: It's Tetris!

Downs: It's Tetris... again.

Platform: Gamecube