Created by Electronic Arts / Rated 4+ / 1 Player / iPhone + iPod Touch / 9.7 MB / $9.99
Review written by Ray Hargreaves

TetrisI think it’s pretty safe to say that everyone understands the fundamental concepts of Tetris. So the more important thing to discuss is what EA has done to adapt this classic game to the iPhone and iPod Touch and whether or not it’s worth your ten dollars.

The mere thought of playing Tetris without pressing buttons is certainly a scary one, and everything rides on whether or not EA can make the touch controls work properly enough. I was very skeptical going in, especially since the NintendoDS version of Tetris required pressing physical buttons, despite the obvious possibly of using its own touch-screen. Thankfully, the touch-screen controls are pulled off surprisingly well and almost manage to make this version of Tetris more enjoyable. Almost.

It only took me a minute or two to become comfortable with the controls, and then I was no longer “trying” to play Tetris – I just was. It’s quite simple, really: the important thing to understand is that you do not need to touch the Tetrimino piece itself. Touching anywhere on the screen not only allows you to keep from blocking your view, but also makes gameplay a lot less frustrating in general. To rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise, simply tap anywhere to the right or left of your piece respectively. Finally, you can lower your piece by dragging it, or flicking downward quickly to slam it.

TetrisThere is one major flaw to all of this, however. Since turning your piece requires tapping, and moving it requires dragging, it’s impossible to both move and rotate your piece at the same time. This isn’t immediately obvious, but when the force of gravity starts to get insane, it’s impossible to turn and drop a vertical piece down the right side if you’re in danger. It just goes to show that when it gets down to crunch time, nothing competes against button-input.

Aside from your general “Marathon,” EA has also included a new “Magic” mode. Your mission is to clear the required number of lines to advance to the next level, and along your journey you’ll earn a number of items to help out in tight situations. For example, you can pop your locked-down blocks like Bubble Wrap, use a Magic Crayon to replace your current falling piece with one you draw, or shake your device to sift stray blocks to the bottom. Personally, I tend to stay away from using these items, as I prefer to win ‘legitimately’ without having to shake my iPhone violently.

Visually, the game looks great. It’s crisp, clean, well-animated, and has some nice little effects going for it. On top of that, the music is a delightful light-dance style reminiscent of Elebits for the Wii. Unfortunately, each song is only one minute in length and immediately fades into the next song. So once you’ve played four minutes, you’ve heard it all. Why couldn’t they at least keep the music looped until you hit the next level? It’s really sad to see such great music used so improperly, and the lack of the classic “Type A” song during gameplay is sorely missing.

TetrisThe one last gripe I have is the main menu – it’s absolutely the worst possible interface for a touch screen. Each menu item is enclosed in a very thin horizontal bar, making it difficult to touch any of them with certainty. On top of that, the menu itself is comprised of seven buttons, but only six of them are viewable. Yeah, you actually have to scroll a tiny smidgen to see the final button. There is easily enough room to place them all within the screen’s boundaries, but it appears they made a template that they were too lazy to change. I’m also not very pleased that the “More Games” button (which directs you to an advertisement) is shamelessly placed towards the top of the menu.

Menu screens aside though, this is a fairly solid Tetris title that pulls off touch-screen controls surprisingly well. With a couple more modes, a different timing of the music, and the addition of a multiplayer mode, this would have been an absolute knock-out. Unfortunately, $10 is a little steep for the price, but if nothing’s better to you than playing Tetris on the go, then this will probably be worth every penny.

Stars
Reviewer’s Completion: Marathon 142063 / Magic 658999
Version Reviewed: 1.0.70

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