For the holiday season in 2003, Microsoft included two Xbox Live enabled games
with it's system: Star Wars Clone Wars (which will be reviewed soon) and Tetris
Worlds (which is reviewed now). Neither are really impressive games to show off
what the Xbox can do, especially Tetris Worlds. Don't expect fantastic 3D graphics
with intricate lighting or bump mapping. Oh no, it's Tetris, a game that harkens
back to the 80's. It's still simple in it's looks through all the years, but the
gameplay modes offered have been changed, and not exactally for the better.
When Tetris debuted for the PC back in the 80's, it was a simple yet addictive
concept in gaming. Create "lines" by arranging 7 different "tetrimones" into place.
You can score more points by clearing more lines at one shot. The most you could
clear was 4 lines, which is caled a "Tetris". Easy concept, and it worked in many forms,
be it PC, arcade or the Game Boy. Simple, accessable and addictive, that is what Tetris
was. WAS being the key word.
Tetris Worlds has made a mess of what Tetris used to be by adding a "story".
Why does Tetris need a story? It's a frickin' puzzle game! Anyway, each stage offred
in the story mode (which seems to be the only notable mode in the game other than
going online) is a different type of Tetris game. You will do more than just score
lines in this game. There is the classic Tetris mode, but there's also a mode called
Cascade, in which you clear a line, then whatever falls off from what you've cleared
can clear another line in a chain. There's a mode called Hot Line, in which you
score more lines for clearing higher on the board where a colored line sits. Square
is a mode where you create a 4x4 square for extra lines (when you clear lines with
the square). Fusion has you fuse together the same colored piece at the bottom of the
board. Finally, Sticky Tetris is a mix of Cascade Tetris, but the same colored piece
will stick to each other, and when you create a big enough "block" of the same color,
a reaction will occur.
It's nice that there are a variety of games to choose from, but the game's scoring
and progression design prevent it from being fun. You really don't score points in
Tetris like you did in the PC or Nintendo versions. That right there sucks, because
that WAS half the game right there. Instead, the only real score you get is how fast
you clear the stage. Progression in the story mode is confusing. In order to clear
a level, you need to score 5 times the lines of the level number. So, if you are
on level 3, you need to get 15 lines to progress. At least, that's what I think.
A few times I started a new level, the increment was not by five, but more of
a factor of 6. Then there's the timer. You have 2 minutes to meet the line requirement.
But nothing really happens if you go over the time. I guess your rank doesn't go up,
but the game doesn't end. Also, to actually clear the stage, you just have to keep playing
until you think you're finished. I played for at least 20 minutes on one stage, and
I still hadn't cleared the stage. I guess you have to hit a certain rank or something,
but the game or the manual does not make anything clear on how you progress.
On top of the multiplayer mode that's offered here, you can go online and challenge
other people. But I'm not sure why you would want to. If scoring is confusing offline,
I can imagine it's meaningless online. Plus, if you want to paly against other people
online in a game of Tetris, you could do that for free on your computer. I found
one program on download.com that is designed for playing against other people
in Tetris online. So having Xbox Live support isn't a big of a draw as you would think.
A nice inclusion, but why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?
If you were hoping that Tetris Worlds was going to be a glorious graphical
experience on the Xbox, then you'll be disappointed. Of course, if you're buying
Tetris, then you're not expecting much, are you? Tetris Worlds is a pretty plain
looking game. There's slightly animated backgrounds, but thats about as much visual
stimulation as you'll get. It's funny to say this, but the N64 "New Tetris" looked
and sounded a lot better than this. You can't expect much from a Tetris game in
terms of graphics, but even for this game, what's done here is pretty dull.
The sound package is basically standard as well. There's the typical thuds
when the pieces hit the ground and what not, and the music is just "there". Some
decent techno mixed in with music that sounded like it was being pumped out of
a Sega Genesis. You can use your own music via custom soundtracks, so you won't
be annoyed much by the sound.
Tetris Worlds is basically Tetris without the fun. There's no real scoring method
like with what we've seem in the PC or Nintendo editions, the progression is confusing
and the online element is basically a "good that it's there" addition. Really, if you
want to play Tetris online, look to Download.com for a free download of the software.
In fact, if you still have a Dreamcast, there are quite a few homebrew editions
of Tetris that are free to download (check my Links page for the link to where you
can find this), and it's still better than this. I feel as if ever since Nintendo
has let go of the Tetris license, the games have gotten worse and worse. Tetris
Worlds proves that.