Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Multiplayer & Puzzle
Release Date: February 13, 2019 (Worldwide)
In a world where battle royale games seem to be the latest mad craze, one classic game that has survived the test of time is making a big return and joining in on the battle royale craze. The game in question, is none other than Tetris 99!
Almost everybody and their mum have played or at least heard of Tetris. Originally developed by Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov, a Soviet Russian game designer. The first playable version of Tetris was completed in 1984.
Tetris derives its name from the Greek numeral prefix ‘tetra’, meaning four, due to each of the pieces having four segments. The latter part of the word comes from Tennis, which is Pajitnov’s favourite sport.
Tetris or at least some derivation of the game has pretty much been released on every single electronic device from computer systems, video game consoles, mobile phones, graphing calculators and even on the side of buildings.
The general idea of the original game is to stack the game’s pieces known as tetrominoes on top of each other and clear them out with a full row. You get more points if you clear multiple rows at a time and even more if you rack up a combo.
The speed of the tetrominoes starts slowly but gradually increases the longer you play. You have to think quickly and react instantly in order to stay in the game for as long as possible and get the best high score.
Tetris 99 takes the base idea of Tetris and has you play against 98 other players. By clearing rows, you will send garbage to other players in the attempt to fill their screen and cause them to a game over.
Other players will be doing the same to you as well so you have to pick your moments as to when is the ideal time to clear rows and send your opponents packing.
As well as the main objective of staying in the game for as long as possible and keeping your screen relatively clear of tetrominoes, you also have the means to obstruct the progress of other players.
By using the right control stick, you can choose to target other players to send your garbage to. There are four options available: KO’s, Badges, Random and Attackers. Random will select opponents at random to send your garbage to. Attackers will stave off incoming garbage and send some back in the process.
KO’s target players that are on the brink of a game over or at least, as close as possible. Badges targets players that have badges, which allow them to dump more garbage on other players. Taking them out will also increase your badges and your ability to dump more garbage.
More often than not, the first part of each match depends on luck. You could scrape through to the last 50 players remaining without being targeted once. Other times, you can be targeted by half of the board and stand more chance of survival in an arena with a lion, a bear and a crocodile with your hands tied behind your back.
When you make it into the last remaining 50 players, it is time to up your game. You will need quick reflexes and be able to think on the fly. While I have yet to make it as the last one standing, I have managed to score third place and within the top 10 a fair few times.
The principle is simple and with it, the controls are straightforward as well. The Left and Right Directional buttons are used to move the tetrominoes around the screen as they fall. The Down Directional button allows you to hard drop the tetromino in place.
The A, B, Y & X buttons rotate the tetrominoes, giving you more possibilities to find a position to slot them into place. The L and R trigger buttons are used to hold tetrominoes that could be useful later and swap them out when required.
Tetris 99 has a simple yet stylish design. The tetrominoes each have their own specific colour, which they have had since Tetris first used coloured pieces. The visuals are sharp and yet subtle. I do find it lacking somewhat in the background department and I would have liked to have some kind of choice as regards to backgrounds.
When it comes to music, you may have half-expected the iconic Tetris theme to be playing constantly. Well, it is the Tetris theme but not as we know it. It has been given a whole new lease of life and would not feel out of place as heist music in PayDay 2.
The menu themes are also very electro pop-esque. Though not as fast-paced as the main game theme, you do get a sense of feeling that perhaps Daft Punk themselves lend a hand to making the soundtrack
If you are familiar with our reviews, you will know that now comes the part where I talk about my issues of the game. So firstly, I enjoy playing Tetris but not in a hugely competitive setting. The people online cannot see how well you are playing and there is no real way to defend yourself against the onslaught that is to come.
Tetris 99, in its current state, also has only one game mode. While there are not many other ways you can play Tetris, a few extra modes would be nice to add a bit more variety. Even a spectator mode would be handy so you could see how other players play and react.
I also don’t like how quickly things spiral out of control or the constant barrages of garbage being thrown at me. I can react quite well under pressure and am used to being in stressful circumstances. Tetris 99 however somehow manages to get under my skin and reduces my normally quick gamer reflexes to complete mush
Tetris 99 is the battle royale puzzle game you never knew you wanted and wondered why it never came sooner. It is crazy addictive and gives you such a rush when you are thrashing opponents left, right and centre. The game also shows that you don’t need weapons and mad fort building skills to dominate the virtual battlefield in order to reign supreme.
On the other hand, Tetris is still Tetris and you either love it or hate it. It is not everyone’s cup of tea and while it may have the insane potential to make its debut in the professional eSports scene, I feel that it could easily lose popularity and disappear back to where it came from.
THE VERDICT: 7/10
*Tetris 99 Is Free To Download for Subscribers of the Nintendo Switch Online service
Should you wish to check out another of our reviews, you can do so by clicking here.