Gamestyle Archive intro: another attempt to bring Tetris to a new generation with mixed results according to Alex Carroll.
Published: September 2001
The human brain can simultaneously deal with 7 things at once. Pajitnov, whether he was aware of this or not, invented a game that famously had 7 different falling shapes – the original version quickly got snapped up by Nintendo and essentially became the greatest Gameboy game ever, with the possible exception of a couple of games staring Mario and Link. The concept was so simple yet so perfectly devised that you couldn’t help becoming hopelessly addicted to the little grey falling blocks – desperate to play for longer and score higher on every attempt – even away from the game you found yourself trying to fit everyday objects into each other, such was the way the game got into your brain.
Fast forward, then, to the current generation of super consoles, and THQ have decided it’s time to play the game once again. However, some things are generally left well alone, and despite some extra game modes and a rather convoluted ‘story’ mode, Tetris Worlds doesn’t even come close to capturing the magic of the classic Tetris gameplay. Sure, there’s some lovely graphics, and the special effects found throughout the Story mode, especially when you get a Tetris, are quite gorgeous – but the positive aspects don’t go much further. The main fundamental issue here is that both the Story mode and the Arcade mode are based around 2 minute sections – you need to achieve a set amount of lines before that 2 minute timer is up. Fail to do this and you’ll have to try again on the same level, assuming you do still manage to get those lines without the blocks filling up the well. If you do get all the lines you need then the well will be cleared and you’ll get another 2 minutes to get another set of lines.
This, then, isn’t how Tetris used to be played – the inclusion of the timers is a wholely negative aspect because the standard gameplay rules go straight out of the window. No longer are you planning ahead, all you have to do is get the required number of lines in the time period and then the entire thing is cleared, with just a small increase in the speed the blocks fall at, and it’s the same in multiplayer mode too – race to get the lines without any interaction between the two wells. Whoever thought this would be a good idea should have been stopped at the drawing board – it ruins the game, there’s little more to say about it.
Where THQ have tried to add playable new features are the variations of the Tetris theme – there’s Square Tetris (where you try to get square 4×4 blocks of pieces together); Cascade Tetris (where fallen blocks still retain gravity when you remove lines below them); Sticky Tetris (where you need to clear the bottom line of blocks); Hot-Line Tetris (clear lines at indicated heights) and Fusion Tetris (which involves connecting falling blocks to the ‘fusion’ block at the bottom of the well). All these modes are playable in Arcade mode and each level of the Story mode is based around one of them, with each having 15 levels of difficulty. To be perfectly honest, they do provide a little variety – which is the obvious intention – but we’d have been happier with ‘Standard Tetris’, something fundamentally missing here.
The presentation is also a little sloppy – the menus are funtional to say the least, tricky to navigate and hardly what you’d call user-friendly. The worst of all, though, is the sound, or more specifically, the music (as the actual sound effects are fine) – you’ve never heard such banal, repetitive and pathetically edited ‘music’ on a videogame for some time, the way it suddenly switches from one track to another seemingly mid-song is quite astonishing. The manual lists the guilty parties who made the music as Syzgy and one Ken Inaoka – probably best to well avoid any of their future productions. It’s a shame, really, all this, because at it’s heart beats a potentially brilliant game – the graphics engine is slick, solid and impressive, the control is spot on and some of the features (you can swap pieces around, there’s a configurable ‘next blocks’ list, there’s a brief history of the game, and 4 players can play at once) deserve special mention – but Tetris Worlds lacks that single most addictive and most playable quality – being able to keep (and therefore aim to beat) high scores. Without such an obvious feature, though, and with the forced 2 minute runs, we can only really recommend this one to those desperate for some next-generation Tetris.
Gamestyle Score: 4/10