Tetris Evolution Review

It’s perhaps the greatest game ever created. Well, Tetris itself is, at least. A timeless classic, dropping those four-block shapes can consume hours and hours despite being simple enough to play on any cell phone or modern calculator. But when it comes to a game console such as the Xbox 360 — which has a perfect platform for Tetris in the Xbox Live Arcade — is a retail version of the game really warranted?

The short answer: No. While all of the extra modes, customization and gloss are fine additions, it doesn’t do anything to change the dynamic of how you play. No matter the mode, it’s always the same game of Tetris, only with a slightly varied goal that I oftentimes found myself being completely unaware of. Tetris DS, on the other hand, had clearly different modes where you solved a puzzle or used the touchscreen to move Tetriminos (the fancy name for the game’s pieces) horizontally to clear the screen. You still had the basic game of Tetris, but there were other modes that clearly gave you something different to do.

There are a total of eight different single player modes in Tetris Evolution. Marathon; the traditional game of Tetris. Ultra; race against the clock. Cascade; cause cascades to occur (where you have a block fall and cause other lines to clear). Race; clear a certain number of lines as quickly as you can. Score; reach a certain score as quickly as possible. Hotline; earn a high score by clearing specific lines. Go Low; points are based on the position of the highest placed block. Eraser; clear a certain number as lines as quickly as possible.

Usually, I would never describe each mode that a game features. But your potential enjoyment of Evolution is based upon how much enjoyment you can find in the slight variations that those modes showcase. Personally, I hard drop each piece almost as soon as it appears, so time was never wasted — meaning that Ultra and Marathon never actually felt different as I played them. But if you’re the type that prefers to sit and contemplate the best position to drop a piece, then maybe you’ll find that there’s enough of a change in pace in the different modes to warrant spending a lot of time with them.

What Evolution does have going for it, however, is the fact that this is Tetris. It’s the absolute best "What’s your high score?" game ever created; combine that with leaderboards and you have a fairly potent time-waster on your hands. Multiplayer can be good for a hoot, but I rarely found myself in close games against opponents on Live. I would always win by a landslide, or my opponents would dominate me. That’s likely due to the fact that the community of people playing isn’t particularly large, so this could change for the better given time.

Up to four players can play on one console or over Xbox Live. Ranked matches on Live are comprised of only a Marathon variation, called Marathon Versus, where the object is to essentially outlast your opponent. On the other hand, player matches can be customized to your heart’s content, allowing you to play any of the aforementioned modes (plus co-op). But playing Tetris online over Xbox Live lacks the same pressure and fun that a game in-person has. Playing against someone near you allows you to see the tension building, allows you to give him or her a little kick or hand gesture as a distraction and finally, when it’s over, allows you to jump from your seat in victory and taunt the loser until your voice tires or you get a black eye. Games over Live lack that personal quality that really makes multiplayer Tetris worth playing.

A lot of the game’s fluff comes in the form of fancy backgrounds, icons, music and skins which ultimately equate to jack once you’ve begun playing. The music will definitely get turned off; the mixture of trance and rock music is really unappealing. And again, maybe it’s just the way I play — getting pieces down as quickly as possible — but who stares at the background or anything other than the pieces while playing Tetris? Sure, it’s nice to exercise your peripheral vision with crazy hallucinogenic visions of God only knows what, but it’s so utterly worthless beyond that slight bit of stimulation.

With a price of $30, it’s just too much to ask for Tetris when there are so many other alternatives — not to mention the fact that many of them are free. And while you can fill up a piece of paper with all of the different options and modes Evolution contains, all of it is essentially useless, and anything but an evolution.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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