Tetris Review - A classic unfazed by the passage of time

Tetris – A classic unfazed by the passage of time

Last Updated on April 1, 2024

Tetris is a household name and arguably the most well-known puzzle game on the planet. Many regard Tetris as gaming royalty, but is that thanks to rose-tinted nostalgia glasses? In this review, I aim to answer that question.

Revisiting one of the best-selling Game Boy games

I’m reviewing the Game Boy version on the Nintendo Switch Virtual Console, as the Game Boy was my first console.

Tetris Review - A classic unfazed by the passage of time
Screenshot: RetroGamerBase

On the off-chance you’ve not played Tetris, the goal is to make horizontal lines out of the Tetris pieces falling into the playfield. Whenever you make a complete line, it vanishes, freeing up space so you can keep playing.

You can turn pieces as they fall, and the game constantly speeds up, increasing the difficulty. It’s as simple as that, but there are plenty of intuitive choices below the surface. The playing field, for example, is just narrow enough that you can’t stack matching pieces on a row without running out of space. It’s a minor feature, but it means you can’t just neatly stack blocks on the playfield and must devise creative ways to fit them together.

I’ve sunk many hours into Tetris over the years, but I’m an average player at best. I played several sessions for this review, and the most satisfying part was chasing high scores. It’s easy to see improvements in your gameplay, and that feeling of progression was enough to keep me playing for multiple hours.

Another immediately noticeable aspect of the title is how responsive it is. Even when I frantically mash the spin button, Tetris seldom misses an input and never feels unfair because of it. There are also two game types. While most players will have their fill in the regular mode, there’s another where you try to race to clear a set number of lines. I prefer the original, but the alternative mode is great for shorter play sessions.

Tetris then versus now

Screenshot: RetroGamerBase

This may seem like an unnecessary nitpick, but the graphics on the Virtual Console version are pretty dated. The visuals have been updated in later games, and I’d recommend one of those unless you’re a stickler for green and black.

You can speed up the descent of your Tetris pieces by holding down, but I miss how it works in newer versions. In Tetris Effect, for example, you can immediately drop blocks by pressing ‘up.’ It sounds counter-intuitive, but this is a modern addition to the classic that I really appreciate.

The presentation isn’t all bad. The graphics are basic but serviceable, and the soundtrack includes one of the most iconic tunes in video game history. Everyone knows the ‘Tetris’ theme; even the other lesser-known tunes are bangers.

Tetris is an anomaly. It’s so deep there’s a pro circuit, yet simple enough that your grandparents can play it. You can spend years learning the intricacies of Tetris yet still have a great time if you never touch the advanced stuff.

Very few games can boast the accessibility of Tetris. While newer versions have added a few ‘modern’ features, the core gameplay has withstood the test of time for almost four decades. After revisiting the title, it’s not hard to see why.

Tetris is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece, but for every iconic video game, there are several that miss the mark. Check out our list of the worst PlayStation games to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Tetris (Nintendo Game Boy): Tetris is a timeless classic that's both relaxing and furiously addictive. While the Game Boy version is a little dated in its presentation, it remains a game you can comfortably spend months or even years on. Anthony

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About the author

Anthony is a freelance writer and has worked in the industry for four years. He's furiously competitive and is always looking for the next big multiplayer hit. Anthony is a passionate PS1 collector and firmly believes in playing his retro games rather than letting them collect dust on a shelf. He also loves speedrunning and always looks forward to the next GDQ and ESA events.

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