Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tetraminos Review (XONE)

Tetris is one of those all time classic games beloved by all because it is a perfectly executed and simple puzzle formula.  No fluff.  No bells and whistles.  Just a handful of shapes, a well to drop them into, and a high score to chase.  I love Tetris, which is why I blind bought Tetraminos on Xbox One, thinking it was yet another Tetris game I could get all of the achievements in.  I was wrong.  It isn’t actually “Tetris”, and that is a problem.

Game Details 

  • Publisher: Big Ben Interactive
  • Developer: Sanuk Games
  • ESRB Rating: “E” for Everyone
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Pros: Looks and sounds okay
  • Cons: It’s fake Tetris
  • MSRP: $10

Tetris is actually a protected brand and license, so when you can’t get the license, but want to make a “Tetris” game, you have to fudge the details a bit.  Tetraminos is the result of all that Tetris fudging.  In addition to the classic 4-block shapes in Tetris, Tetraminos also adds shapes with one, two, three, and five blocks in them.  Insanity!  These new shapes throw a wrench into the traditional Tetris gameplay and can breathe new life into the classic puzzle game experience.  If you know that going in, Tetraminos can be enjoyable.  But if you want real traditional Tetris, that is where the disappointment sets in.

That disappointment is magnified by the fact the game, somehow, doesn’t even play that well despite being the simplest concept in gaming history.  The physics in the game are strangely inconsistent as pieces will sometimes be very “sticky” and plant themselves immediately when they touch another block, while other times you can move them around at will for seemingly forever.  Having consistent rules in a puzzle game like this is absolutely vital, but Tetraminos is anything but consistent.

I do like that the game is more of a pure experience where you can’t infinite spin or keep blocks in reserve, which have become mainstays of modern Tetris games.  You get one shot to drop the block the game gives you, and that’s it, which I like.  On the other hand, the game doesn’t have different colors for each shape, which makes playing quickly by being able to glance up at the next piece coming so you can play your placement ahead of time more difficult.  You used to be able to easily identify shapes by color but not here, and that really affects gameplay more than you’d expect.

Presentation is incredibly simple with just one background and one set of simple colors for the pieces.  The menus also have the distinct look of being an unfinished Photoshop draft they just used anyway.  Even worse, the music in the game is totally forgettable, which is a far cry from the catchy tracks you expect in Tetris.  Then again, though, this isn’t Tetris.

All in all, Tetraminos is just a lame Tetris clone die-hard fans of the classic can easily ignore.  If you love Tetris, you will feel only disappointment with Tetraminos.  On the other hand, if you aren’t a die-hard and just want a new puzzle game and don’t have 30-years of pre-conceived notions about the genre burned into your brain, you might just enjoy it.  You’re probably better off skipping it for Ubisoft’s Tetris Ultimate instead, though.

See Tetraminos on Xbox.com

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