Thursday Appdate: Tetris Blitz

Thu, May 30, 2013

Arcade, Casual, iPad, iPhone, Mobile, Puzzle, Social

One could start this examination with a brief look back at the ubiquity of Tetris, but anecdotal experiments are much more fun: start humming Korobeiniki right now, wherever you are. See how many people either join in, or ask why you’re humming the Tetris music. Bonus points for you, by the way, if you knew the music even was a Russian folk song outside of the game; ever since 1989, this has simply been “The Tetris music.” Tetris Blitz, a new fast-paced mobile adaptation by EA, comes with a techno remix of the song, which alone is worth the free download of this week’s Editor’s Choice from the Apple App Store.

Beyond that, of course, is another re-invention of Tetris, a process that has been attempted a hundred times over. This, thankfully, is one of the more successful ones, delivering a twist on Tetris that feels as frenzied and rapid-fire as the “blitz” name suggests, while still retaining much of the original clever spatial puzzling that makes Tetris a classic. In Tetris Blitz, the focus is not on long-term survival, but on clearing as many lines as possible in a two-minute window. There is no desperate movement or rotation; a series of silhouettes give you a choice of where your next piece can be placed, and a single tap drops it there instantly. The key difference here is that, unlike Tetris and its eponymous four-line maximum result, the player is now hunting for combos in the form of cascades. When part of a piece is used up in a line, the remainder no longer stays fixed in its vertical position, but instead falls as far as the field will allow, potentially filling a gap in a new line. Score enough of these, and the game enters its frenzy mode, where individual blocks don’t even stick together, shuffling downward into a neverending score explosion of finished lines.

A short timer helps jumpstart Tetris Blitz into the late-game excitement of the original puzzle, where space was short and speed was of the essence. You’re never in danger of losing at Tetris Blitz, but the urge to outdo your previous score — and those of your friends — keeps you scrambling to drop pieces and hit combos, and the driving music compels you onward until the last second. There’s an array of powerups, as well, which can trigger special moves to clear additional lines, and these can be had for in-game coins, either earned slowly through play or purchased for real money.

As one of the more original takes on Tetris in recent memory, this app is notable enough to try for yourself. Me, I’m going to keep playing it for the music.

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