|Tetris Evolution (2007)
Available for: Xbox 360
It happens to most game consoles eventually. You know what I’m talking about. The day when the greatest puzzle video game ever to come from Russia rears its head once again and finds its way onto your TV screen. It’s pretty much a guaranteed thing. When all your other game icons and heroes fail you, there’s always one stalwart you can turn to. That’s right, it’s “Tetris,” and it’s finally made its way onto the Xbox 360 in the guise of “Tetris Evolution,” with a price tag half that of other new games for the system. Some may argue, however, that it should have simply been a new Xbox Live Arcade title and nothing more. While that’s not a terrible idea, the fact that it shipped for $29.99 isn’t so bad, either, especially if you’re really into the game.
As you may expect, this is the same old “Tetris” you’ve known forever, with a few new bells and whistles thrown in because, after all, you have to soup up your classic ride before anyone will want to jump in, right? Gone are the days of stacking blocks on a black and white Macintosh monitor while the theme pumps out of a tinny speaker. That’s as archaic as rocking the game on an original GameBoy. No? You betcha. So now we have “Tetris” all tricked out with a handful of tunes, including the original theme, some animated backgrounds and some wacky skins you can strap around your game play area.
But wait, of course there’s a whole lot more! Did I mention the new modes of play in addition to ye olde classic Marathon mode? There’s also Cascade mode, which is probably not actually an “all-new” variation, but we’ll let it slide. There’s also the self-explanatory Race mode; Ultra mode (another timed variation but with the challenge of clearing out a predetermined set of lines); Score mode; Hotline; and Go Low. These last two are slightly interesting, with the former based around clearing rows of blocks on certain pre-mapped lines on the playing field, and the latter rewarding the players with big points for keeping the cleared lines as low as possible.
So yeah, it’s “Tetris” all over gain, more or less. Where this title excels is in its multiplayer play. Up to four gamers can compete either locally or on Xbox Live. This is a bit of a switch from a lot of recent games on the 360, which usually focus on the Live multiplayer experience and not so much the at-home gaming. Still, personal experience playing on Live so far has resulted in much frustration. There seems to be a ton of people who have done nothing in their lives but play “Tetris” and really excel at this game, shutting their opponents down in no time. So you’ve been forewarned if you’re a casual player. The online goons take no prisoners.
The look and sound of “Tetris Evolution” is tasty enough, but honestly, this game doesn’t have a lot propping it up. You wouldn’t really expect a next-gen blowout for a puzzle game this old. At any rate, there’s enough here to warrant the price tag, but at the end of the day it’s still “Tetris,” and if you don’t happen to be a junkie of the title, you might find yourself only playing occasionally. Suffice it to say that the 360 could stand a few more casual/puzzle games of the original variety, that aren’t ports of popular PC titles on XBLA or just rehashes such as this one. Perhaps someone will take notice sometime. Until then, have fun stacking.