PlayStation Portable

Tetris Review

Tetris Review 150 150 GAMESFWD

Tetris makes its way back to a PlayStation system as part of the PSP minis series. This version from EA features 12 different variants to unlock and play in addition to the classic marathon, many of which are all-new. However, a distinct lack of personality and multiplayer features hold it back compared to recent Tetris games on other platforms.

Control can make or break a Tetris game and thankfully the PSP minis version is tight and responsive. The spin mechanic has been tweaked here to provide a more classic feeling compared to Tetris Splash or Tetris Party, all but eliminating the “infinite spin” that plagued some recent versions of  the seminal puzzle game from Russia.

When you boot Tetris you are greeted with a sleek, modern-looking animated menu. This blue-themed look permeates the game and makes this version of Tetris come off as cold compared to other entries in the series. Aside from some all-new variants to play, Tetris for PSP minis lacks any real identity of its own.

Variants, three of which are unlocked by default, task you with clearing 40 lines after choosing a starting level of speed at which the Tetriminoes will fall. To my surprise, the speed level does not increase as you play a Variant as it does in a standard Marathon session. Your clear time and score are both tracked, but are essentially useless to progress and there are no online leaderboards to share your statistics.

Some of the Variants are unlocked by simply clearing 40 lines in others, but some require more specific tasks like clearing a Variant at level ten or an entire Variant in less than four minutes. The game has a completion meter that appears on the title screen, but it seems irrelevant. By the time I unlocked the final Variant, I had played for about three hours and was at less than 25% completion.

The completion meter goes up as you complete in-game achievements called Feats. Most of these will occur naturally as you play like accumulating 90 minutes of play time, but some are quite tricky such as trying to clear 44 lines in a variant or 12 in a single turn.

As for the Variants themselves, some are ones we’ve seen before like Gravity and Origin, but Tetris for PSP minis also has a number of original ones, most of which are quite good. Highlights for me were Treadmill, Scanner and Split.

Treadmill creates an ever-changing puzzle by moving the entire matrix to the right every time you drop a Tetrimino. Scanner will clear any lines you have made every four turns and reminds me very much of the way Lumines is played. Split only allows you half of the matrix to work with and alternates which side you can play in with each Tetrimino drop.

Other Variants include Laser, Flood, Ledges and Chill. I can’t say there were any bad Variants included and there is certainly no shortage of content to play in Tetris for PSP minis, however enjoyment of this title will hinge on how much you enjoy playing Tetris by yourself and beating your own scores.

There are no ad-hoc or online multiplayer modes and no online leaderboards. For me, this is a real step back compared to the wonderful Tetris Party and will likely affect how much time I end up spending with this version. In all fairness, had this version of Tetris had any online components, it would not be classified as a PSP mini and would have likely cost more than $9.99.

A unique feature found in Tetris for PSP minis is the Pro Trainer. In addition to a Glossary, it contains a Master Replay for each Variant that will show you how to play them at high levels and likely make you question your own Tetris skill.

In addition to the sterile presentation, I was disappointed by the music in Tetris for PSP minis. Yes, there are a number of versions of the “Tetris Theme”, but you are unable to select which version you want playing as you clear lines. There is also no option to use custom music stored on your PSP Go or Memory Stick Pro Duo. I’d really have liked to have seen some unlockable backgrounds and songs to help change up the look and feel of the game once in a while.

In my opinion, Tetris is the greatest puzzle game ever made and this version from EA should, by default, be in any PSP or PSP Go owner’s collection that is a fan of the series. Despite lacking any multiplayer or leader board components, there is plenty content to play and the control is arguably the best a Tetris game has seen in some time.

Had there been some more personality and multiplayer features in this game, I would have scored it higher, but as it stands I feel that the PSP minis version of Tetris is an adequate representation of the game and nothing more.