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Posted on November 14, 2009, 11:32 am

Tetris Worlds is yet another addition to the long line of games bearing the Tetris name. But what made this one stand out is the addition of new gameplay mechanics that stuck in recent Tetris titles. Specifically, it heralds the era of a new Tetris standard to which all games based on Russian programmer Alexey Pajitnov's concept must abide. This standard is called the Tetris Guideline.
Devised by the guys at The Tetris Company, which holds all trademarks and copyrights to the puzzle block-buster, this Guideline defines all aspects and traits to which all new titles must comply with in order to earn the "Authentic Tetris Game" seal.
Tetris Worlds was not the first to be Guideline-compliant, but certainly did fall under major criticism for one particular thing called "Infinity", or "Easy Spin" on the GameCube and Xbox versions of Tetris Worlds. As such, players could keep pressing the rotate buttons or keep moving it left or right to avoid locking of the current piece. Critics say it made the game too easy. GameSpot even went to say that it "broke Tetris." "It helps the beginning player who's trying to figure out what to do. It's a useless feature (for competitive play); it only helps if you're taking the time to think[,]" says Henk Rogers, CEO of Blue Planet Software/The Tetris Company, about the "Infinity" feature.
Aside from this, it also introduced the Super Rotation System (and its many wall kicks), a bag-based randomizer and other details described in the Tetris Guideline.
Also, Tetris Worlds was the first attempt to incorporate a story, as bland as it is, to the Russian brainteaser. The premise they've got going on is that an alien planet populated with block creatures is threatened by a star going foom. They send "representatives" to go play Tetris on another planet, in hope that it'll save their race.
Not exactly Shakespeare, I'll admit, but a bad plot is better than no plot at Tetris Worlds' case, we could make do without one.
This game was made for GBA, PS2, GCN, Xbox and PC. The Xbox version was offered in two flavours: with and without Xbox Live support.

When you start the game, you'll have to choose between "Story" and "Arcade." (The GBA version has a different name for Story and drops Arcade; instead, there is an "Ultra" mode, which challenges players to clear levels, each within 2 minutes.)
Story mode follows the block creatures' story (if any), and lets you play as long as you can/like.
Apart from the GBA version, there is a rank system: if you clear a level within two minutes, you gain a rank. If you take more than 2 minutes, no rank-up for you, but you'll get to try again on the next level.
Some may choose to ignore it, while others may grit their teeth on figuring out how to clear 75 lines within 2 minutes. And that's with tidbits called "Line Clearing Bonuses." Traditionally, Tetris rewards making more than one line at a time, so that 2 lines cleared at the same time is worth more than 2 lines made 1 at a time. Worlds has kept this age-old principle.

In Arcade mode, you can play alone for fun, or with friends and family. But I won't be held responsible if your 67-year-old grandma crushes you with lots of Tetrises (the game's namesake, making 4 lines at once).
It should be noted that the "garbage" you send to other players cannot be used against yourself. As such, if player X makes 3 lines, but one of them was "garbage", the game considers that 2 lines were made, and not 3.

Tetris Worlds comprises of 6 variations of Tetris. Evolving backgrounds await you in each mode, though you'll be busy focusing on the game rather than the stuff around.
Aside from the classic mode, it recycles 2 from earlier titles and introduces 3 "brand-new" twists on Tetris.

Square mode, taken from The New Tetris (N64), challenges the player to make 4x4 squares using those pieces. Such squares with only one type of piece will give you valuable gold squares, while squares made with different pieces will net you a silver one.
The thing is, sometimes, it'll give you a long run of a certain piece. I-pieces runs are nice and all, but a long run of S-pieces will most likely bring your game to a premature end, if you don't have enough room to place 'em all.
The New Tetris rewarded "twist moves", when you wedge a piece by rotating it so that it can't move anymore, by separating each block in the playfield and letting it fall as down as possible. By doing so, it also cancelled all square bonuses. So if you just did a "twist" and there was lots of squares sitting at the bottom, then tough luck, buddy.
Tetris Worlds carried over that trait for Square mode, although its definition of "twist" has changed. Now, to get the same "twist" bonus, one has to use a T-shaped piece and rotate it in small areas so that it makes a line.

Sticky mode, lifted from The Next Tetris (PS1), has players digging through "garbage" lines to reach the bottom row of blocks, and clear it. But the catch is, most of your pieces are made up of different colored blocks that separate upon lock down. If two or more same-colored blocks touch each other, they'll "stick" together, so a bit of planning ahead is required.
If somehow, there are 25 same-colored blocks together, they'll disappear, leaving behind a gaping hole in your playfield.
Sticky does not use "naive gravity," but uses the same algorithm as Cascade mode, which is discussed below.

Cascade mode, one of the 3 new modes, plays the same as ordinary Tetris, with the exception that gravity is turned on. That means that if a piece or part of it has empty space below it, it'll fall through that, until it hits another piece or the floor. This allows for chains to happen, earning more points.

Hot-Line mode, another mode fresh off the oven, challenges the players to make lines, as always, but on specific marked rows. This mode uses Cascade's gravity as well as Sticky's multi-colored piece set. Making a line anywhere else but on the "hot-lines" won't do a thing. So it's good to put a little intentional mess on the bottom rows to reach the "hot-lines." "Hot-lines" are more valuable depending on their height. For the record, the Xbox Live-compatible version has its topmost "hot-line" on the highest row in the playfield, making it extremely valuable, but also extremely dangerous.
After clearing a level in this mode, all blocks separate and fall free, à la Square mode.

Fusion mode, the last of the 3 new-comers, introduces single blocks called Atom blocks. The goal is to connect such Atom blocks to a Fusion block sitting at the very bottom of the playfield, typically at the leftmost or rightmost column. When connected to a Fusion block, Atoms become Fusion blocks.
At the start of a level, the Fusion block is buried into garbage, just like in Sticky, except that neither Atom nor Fusion blocks will disappear in a line clear. Players have to plow through the garbage using the regular Tetris pieces and the Atoms. When a line containing those stubborn Atoms/Fusion blocks is made, Cascade-like gravity happens, allowing for the eventual accumulation of Atoms to clear garbage on their own and working their way to the Fusion Block.

The Soviet Mind Game demonstrates its eternal appeal once again, but this time with a little less brio, for it was the "Easy Spin" feature that gathered negative reviews at first. When the "Online" edition for Xbox was released, it still garnered negative attention, with the little praise being for the online gameplay.
But Tetris is still Tetris, and Worlds has still to be a gem to the likes of the highly-difficult Tetris the GrandMaster series.
This isn't one of the best Tetris games out there, but it's far from being the worst, as it hasn't showed its potential...if any.
Comment by Opius on November 18, 2009, 11:53 pm
They used to have this game on PC and PS2 a few years back. There was a bit of lag, but it's still one of my favorite Tetris games out there! I hope they (Tetris Co.) incorporates the "new" modes into TF or other multiplayer online Tetris game sites!!!!
Comment by XaeL on November 14, 2009, 6:50 pm
u can't review tf sprint, u'l just complain about how crap it is :P
Comment by solo2001 on November 14, 2009, 6:46 pm
i'll review TF sprint one of these days :P
Comment by Boingloing on November 14, 2009, 12:24 pm
I was gonna review this...
Comment by Blink on November 14, 2009, 12:01 pm
well written review GPD, good job!

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