Reviews - Updated on April 10, 2022

Relevant for platform: NSW

So we joked – now there is a royal battle in Tetris. When Tetris Effect was announced, many in the comments under the trailer asked if the game would have such a popular multiplayer mode today. The developers from the Arika studio, apparently, saw these reviews and decided to make PUBG with figures falling into a glass. The funny thing is that the result really works and actually looks like a royal battle. And getting out of Tetris 99 is just as difficult as, for example, out of fresh Apex Legends.

Another battle with construction

Probably, you should immediately say about the main drawback of the game – it does not explain anything at all. You can spend time in it like in a regular Tetris, carefully folding the pieces and erasing the lines, but it is unlikely that you will be able to get to the top 10 by this method, and even more so to win. Although at first I managed to perform with dignity, not understanding anything about the gameplay, Tetris 99 becomes many times more interesting if you understand the mechanics – fans of the creation of Alexei Pajitnov have already painted everything in detail.

So, you start the search for opponents, a lobby of 99 participants gathers in 20 seconds, and the match begins. Your glass is located in the very center of the screen, and opponents’ glasses are visible to the left and right of it. Multi-colored figures fall, you unfold them, move them, drop them, but suddenly strange colorless lines begin to appear below with one hole in each of them.

This is due to the fact that other players attack you – they throw the lines they erased into your glass. You do the same: if two lines are destroyed, you pass one to the enemy, if four – then four, plus bonuses for combos and all sorts of tricks like T-spin. Obviously, with a full glass, you are out of the game, and the enemy, whose lines killed you, is credited with the kill.

You can aim at any opponent using the left stick or by tapping the screen in handheld mode. For obvious reasons, there is not always enough time to look out for the most vulnerable target, and the right stick will come in handy in this case – with its help you instantly select the category of players. You can focus on near-dead enemies, whose glass is almost full, or on random opponents. If you choose “Counterattack”, your lines will be distributed among all the players attacking you – this is the only option in which you throw garbage to several participants, and not one.

Tetris 99 game review

The yellow KO icons are the players you have killed.

Kills (it’s strange to use this word in a Tetris review, but what can you do) strengthen you and your attacks – for all the “kills” you gradually collect badges that affect the number of lines sent. If suddenly you are so lucky that you knock out one opponent after another and score four icons, you will start throwing exactly twice as many lines into the enemy cups – four instead of two and eight instead of four. One badge gives only a 25% increase, but even this can be important in the final fights, when there are very few opponents.

All this sounds like a real battle royale: you need to look for weak opponents and kill them for the sake of “loot”, defend yourself from attackers, choose the right targets. The squares to the left of the glass warn of an impending attack: at first they are yellow, after a couple of seconds they turn red, and soon after that they start flashing. This is their most dangerous state – as soon as you make a move, other people’s lines will come out below. However, if you erase the lines in your glass during the same move, the squares will be destroyed along with them. It is always nice to have a stick in reserve, hold it to the last and use it for self-defense at the most opportune moment.

There’s nowhere to hide

For speed, aggression and accuracy in Tetris 99 reward more willingly than for slowness. It’s like Fortnite – you can sit until the end of the match in the bushes and wait until you are left with someone together, but the last player probably knows how to build entire castles in a second, has collected a bunch of shields and first-aid kits, and shoots well from a sniper rifle. So here – if you do not prepare for attacks and do not attack anyone (and here you can even hunt for people with the most badges and select them), then in the end you simply will not be able to fight off anyone.Tetris 99 game review

Getting out of this situation is difficult, but possible.

Somehow, miraculously, it all works perfectly. The royal battle does not seem far-fetched and somehow screwed to the classic game – in Tetris 99, the familiar mechanics that have not changed for many years have acquired bells and whistles, acquired non-standard multiplayer, but did not become overloaded. They say about Apex Legends that this is a “piano” for those who do not like this genre, but Tetris 99 is more suitable for this characteristic. No need to shoot, look for weapons, run from one corner to another – you just need to play Tetris. And at the same time – read the advice of professionals who already come up with effective tactics and give recommendations.

The game is the complete opposite of Tetris Effect, in which I sat for another hundred hours after the review. There is no multiplayer, but there is a luxurious design and a fantastic soundtrack that plunges you into a trance at each new level. Hardcore modes are also there, but they are placed in a separate menu. In the “plot” you go down to the seabed and watch jellyfish, fly in the clouds, walk with camels in the desert and look at the balloons rising into the sky.

Tetris 99 has none of that. Visually, this is the most common Tetris, in which the figures are painted in different colors for convenience, and special effects are almost completely absent. The Arika studio became famous among Tetris fans with the Tetris: The Grand Master series, which became so difficult even for professionals that only a couple of years ago the title of “grandmaster” was received by the first person living outside of Japan. These games were distinguished by pleasant controls, a clean and understandable interface, and excellent sound design – all this was preserved in the new project. Even the “Korobushka”, which sounds normal at first, and in the middle of the match speeds up twice, does not get bored for a very long time.

Tetris 99 game review

The two yellow squares in the left column will soon turn red and turn into lines.

If you forget about the lack of training and try to find some other shortcomings, then it will be difficult to do so. Even if they are, they are not so much related to the game, but to the battle royale genre as a whole. For example, there are situations when, among dozens of participants, several players choose you as their target and fill up with garbage. And unsuccessful figures fall to you, which you can’t even fold normally. However, this happens in any royal battle – you fell, did not find a cannon, another half a dozen people landed nearby, you died. We immediately launched a search and a minute later started the next match.

You can complain about the complete absence of any content other than the main mode, even if Tetris 99 is free. However, dataminers have already found descriptions of other upcoming modes in the files, including “Team battle” (battle of two large squads), battles with bots and a marathon of up to 200 erased lines or to infinity. Not only that, in the future, Nintendo plans to hold temporary events with some kind of rewards, which will surely become an extra reason to launch the game.

What can be a big downside is the need to subscribe to Nintendo’s online service. The company said it was going to give the audience more reasons to pay money for multiplayer – ancient NES games obviously weren’t enough, but such surprises could inspire a membership purchase. But the lack of an alternative is still upsetting – if there is a desire to play in the future, you will have to subscribe and give money every time.

The downed member’s badges are transferred to the killer, boosting their attack.

***

And you will want to return to Tetris 99 – not so much because of the battle royale brilliantly integrated into the usual Tetris, but because of the convenient, exciting and addictive gameplay. Need to quickly kill time and complete a couple of matches – please. If you want to sit out all evening – it’s easy, the night will come faster than you come to your senses. It is sad that the game does not tell anything about the main mechanics and you have to figure everything out yourself or consult with the masters on Reddit. But as soon as you figure it out, you begin to regret that no one came up with all this before.

Pros: classic Tetris with mechanics from the royal battles was not such a crazy idea; not devoid of depth gameplay; quick matches and almost instant search for players; convenient control and nice interface.

Cons: complete lack of training; requires a Nintendo Switch Online subscription.

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