Sunday, 24 March 2019

Tetris (Game Boy review)

Developer: Bullet-Proof Software
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: 1989

Tetris is a puzzle game that was a pack-in for the handheld in Europe and North America.


Seven different shaped blocks fall individually from above and your job is to complete horizontal lines in order to remove them from the playfield; if the blocks reach the top it's game over. They can be moved left and right, dropped faster using Down on the d-pad, or rotated using the A and B buttons. A-Type mode is a high score endurance where the speed steadily increases. The gameplay is the ultimate blend of reflexes meets problem solving, and it's incredibly addictive trying to beat your previous best. Its simplistic mechanics make it intuitive for newcomers, but there's nuance for experts too. For example, removing single lines might be an efficient process, but the real high scores are gained by clearing four lines at once by stacking up blocks around the missing piece; the risk-reward here creates lots of tension due to you gambling on receiving the straight block you need, and it's oh-so-satisfying when you do! The pacing is superb, as it gives you ample time on Level 0 to learn the mechanics, while building to a rapid fire assault around Level 10. The controls are spot-on and it's great how both buttons rotate the pieces in opposing directions depending on which way you need them. B-Type mode tasks you with clearing 25 lines which is ideal quick-play for a handheld. I like how (given the shorter play time of each attempt) different strategies can be employed to focus on surviving rather than organising a perfect playfield! Another brilliant idea is how your score isn't displayed until the end as it keeps you guessing. However, the drawback in both modes is the lack of a battery to save your scores.

Tetris is a defining title on Nintendo's Game Boy handheld that's infinitely playable thanks to its charming simplicity, addictive gameplay and entertaining mode variations. It's a timeless classic that gets everything right and it's easy to recommend to anyone with even a passing interest in video games.



Random trivia: The in-game Type A music is different depending on whether you have a 1.0 or 1.1 ROM on your cartridge.

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