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by THQ

49032_s01-01-01.jpg (6870 bytes)What is a Game Boy system without Tetris? The puzzle game has become emblematic of portable gaming, and is well-known for its highly addictive play. Tetris is one of the biggest selling games of all-time, and it has been copied, customized, and evolved into a whole range of games. Titles such as Dr. Mario, Fortress, Yoshi’s Cookies, and a bunch of others have all borrowed the basic concept of arranging falling blocks. Tetris is a game known by both the habitual gamer and the complete novice. It’s a staple of the gaming universe, and along those lines THQ has released Tetris Worlds, which brings the simple puzzle game to intergalactic proportions.

Tetris Worlds is, for the most part, a collection of almost every kind of Tetris and Tetris-like game that has come before. Of course, the original Tetris is featured, which everyone should be familiar with. You place blocks of different shapes as they fall from the top of the screen, trying to create full lines across the "Matrix", the area where you place your blocks. This mode should be very familiar to anyone who has played Tetris before. Sticky Tetris is a slightly different version where blocks of the same color fuse together. You can clear blocks by either creating solid horizontal lines, or by fusing 25 blocks of the same color together.

49032_s02-02.jpg (7597 bytes)In Fusion Tetris, you must connect the falling Atom Blocks to the Fusion Block buried beneath the Garbage – the mess of blocks existant when you begin the game. When a line with a Fusion Block is cleared, Gravity is turned on, and remaining block pieces will fall to lower levels in the Matrix. In Hotline, you are given a number of "Hotlines", which identify different horizontal lines in the Matrix. Your job is to clear a line of blocks along each of the Hotlines to progress to the next level. Square Tetris asks you to clear lines, as in the original version. However, in Square Tetris you can also form squares of blocks, either mixed or pure depending on color, and you receive a bonus when you clear lines containing all or part of these squares. Cascade Tetris is the final version of the game, and one of the best. This plays like normal Tetris, except Gravity is always on, which causes blocks to fall down into empty areas when lines below them are cleared. As the blocks fall, they may fill in other lines, causing a Cascade. You are awarded bonus points for getting a high number of Cascades.

Some of these modes, such as Fusion and Hotline, are unique to Tetris Worlds, which is great. All of them provide different play experiences that require different strategies to win. My favorites are actually the modes that have become almost as classic as the original version, Cascade and Sticky Tetris. You can play any of these game modes against a friend using the GBA Link cable, but you each need a copy of Tetris Worlds. On the one hand, the lack of a single cart multi-boot setup is disappointing – you can always talk somebody into playing Tetris with you. On the other hand, there’s a good chance that GBA fanatics will buy a copy of Tetris Worlds. If you’re a fan of Tetris, there’s no reason not to. But it’s still a disappointment that THQ couldn’t even throw us a bone – how about just original mode multiplayer with a single cartridge?

To round out the game, and take advantage of the GBA’s muscle, Tetris Worlds features animated backgrounds and vivid colors. These graphic extras do nothing to change the game itself, but provide a bit of eyecandy. Sometimes, especially when first playing the game, I found myself distracted by the odd things happening behind the Matrix, but after some hardcore Tetris action, I could see nothing but falling blocks, even after I shut my eyes.

Is Tetris still the best, most addictive puzzle game out there? I don’t know. The biggest competition for the title is probably Chu Chu Rocket Advance, which is just as addictive, as infinitely replayable, and horribly cute. While both titles are puzzle games, they also play very differently, and therefore don’t compete so much. Are people bored with Tetris? I don’t know that, either. I do know that if you hand just about anyone the game, they’ll play it until you make them stop. And I imagine that there will be a lot of copies sold this holiday season.

Make no mistake, Tetris is back for the GBA, and THQ has done a bang-up job with it. If you are a fan of puzzle games, or just a Tetris junkie, then go immediately to your local videogame retailer and grab a copy. Tetris Worlds is a beautiful version of a gaming classic, enhanced and beefed-up for the current market.

Shawn Rider   (11/03/2001)


Ups: Tetris in all its incarnations; some nice new elements; great background anims.

Downs: Multiplayer requires both to have cartdridge.

Game Boy Advance