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Tetris Worlds

Review By:  Jared Black

Developer:   Blue Planet
Publisher:   THQ
# of Players:   1-4
Genre:   Puzzle
ESRB:   Everyone
Online:   No
Accessories:   Hard Drive (soundtracks), Memory Unit
Date Posted:  

8-27-02

In the video game realm, perhaps no other franchise is as much of a sure thing (save for Final Fantasy) sales-wise as the Tetris franchise. What almost single-handedly started the original Game Boy towards massive sales has made an appearance on every single console since (including the NUON platform), and met with good sales each time. Itís really hard to screw up a game of Tetris, but this is about as close as anyoneís gotten.

Strangely, this versionís major problem was also found in the Game Boy Advance version (link)Öand yet for some reason it didnít bother me there. I noticed it, but didnít even feel it was worth mentioning. The problem: once reaching the bottom of the playing field a piece can be spun around infinitely. Not only can it be spun around, but also in most cases it can actually scale back up the playing field over adjacent pieces with enough spinning. In other words, all of the challenge (what really draws a player into Tetris in the first place) is effectively removed from the game. Place a piece in a bad spot? No problem, just realize it before you the piece settles and start spinning it wildly until you get it to where it really should go.

One could argue that this isnít really a problem at all; after all, if the player doesnít like it then they donít have to do it. The problem is that the temptation is simply too great. We all want to be winners, and to have that kind of thing available to use within the parameters of the game makes it all too easy to take advantage of. Additionally, it can be taken advantage of accidentally if the player attempts to make a last minute turn before a piece is placed. A simple switch to turn this off wouldíve been sufficient, but as it stands now itís flawed.

Tetris Worlds has all of the game modes any Tetris nut would want. These include: normal Tetris, Sticky Tetris (same colors stick together), Fusion (a special block needs to be cleared), Hot-Line (specific lines are the target), Square (create 4x4 block squares and clear lines with them), and Cascade (pieces fall when not supported from below). These are playable in both a story mode and an arcade mode.

The graphics are, umm, unnecessary. Much like the GBA version, the background "worlds" are often pretty distracting and detract from the Tetris experience. As your performance changes, elements in the background change and morph as well. They arenít quite as "in your face" as the portable version, but theyíre annoying none the less. There's a lot of wasted space on lackluster "worlds" that could be used to make things easier to see or display additional important information.

The nature of Tetris means that the sound effects are going to be minimal, so naturally a kickiní soundtrack is needed to fill the void. The New Tetris and Tetrisphere both did it right, while this game does it completely wrong. Tetris Worlds tries to largely imitate the techno sound of those two games, but almost every track in the game feels uninspired and trite. The quality of each track is actually decent, but the same beats are repeated so often that it grows tiring very quickly. Even the freeware game Acid Tetris is worlds (pun unfortunately intended) beyond this effort in the soundtrack department. Luckily the Xbox version of Tetris Worlds does allow for custom soundtracks, and being able to listen to your favorite tunes while zoning out to an intense game of Tetris is pretty satisfying. Thatís still no excuse for what the game was shipped with though.

Highs:

  • This version offers up more variations of Tetris than most other versions.
  • All Xbox puzzle games should support custom soundtracks.

Lows:

  • The "endless spinning" addition to gameplay is really a huge subtraction.
  • The worlds are uninteresting to look at, and distract the player from the game at hand.
  • The soundtrack is lame.

Final Verdict: 

If you donít mind having almost all of the fun sucked out of Tetris, then this is your game. It takes a lot of effort to make a Tetris title that's overall slightly below average (a score of 5), but here we are.

Overall Score: 4.4

Additional Images:

 


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