No one has found a way to improve on Tetris, but it certainly hasn't been for a lack of trying. Since its rise to popularity on the Game Boy, the classic puzzle game has inspired countless knockoffs, copycats and sequels. But no matter how many newfangled additions they try to graft onto Tetris, nothing can beat the original for sheer addictiveness and replay value. With Tetris Worlds, the foundation of a great game is in place, but it lacks the cohesion necessary to make it anything more than a serviceable collection of disconnected Tetris variants.
The six gameplay variations of Tetris Worlds use the basic concept of Tetris as a starting point and add new objectives and complications. For example, in Square Tetris, the goal is to make squares in addition to clearing lines, and in Sticky Tetris, blocks of the same color fuse together. Unfortunately, the intricacies of each variant isn't made clear, either by the game or the instruction manual, and only through trial and error is it possible to understand exactly how to perform a "t-spin" or an "avalanche." Other aspects, such as the timer, never become clear.
The different games are tied loosely together in the Story mode, which despite its name doesn't have much of a story beyond what's printed in the instruction manual. You simply choose a Mino and then select a world to play in. The Mino you choose doesn't even have any effect. Those hoping for an adventure mode like the one found in Magical Tetris Challenge for the Game Boy will be disappointed by Tetris Worlds' lackluster attempt in this area.
Also missing is the customizability found in many versions of Tetris, such as the ability to change the speed of falling blocks and the initial line height. Given all the different variations and features that Tetris Worlds has to offer, a sort of "create you own Tetris" seems in order. One would expect the Arcade mode to serve this purpose, but it seems designed mostly for multiplayer games, especially since single players are forced to play on a screen with two empty wells.
The six planets' environments serve as attractive backdrops for the familiar assortment of falling blocks, but surprisingly there's little animation. The backgrounds change and transform at the end of a session if you've performed well enough, but a much better visual strategy would have the backgrounds morph during actual gameplay.
One interesting addition that isn't mentioned anywhere in the manual is the fact that you can continue to move and manipulate a piece for a seemingly unlimited amount of time once it reaches the bottom of the well. You can even make a piece float temporarily after it has landed by rapidly pressing the up button. Call it a feature or a bug, but this alteration to the fundamental laws of Tetris has the potential to radically change the way you play. It seems more like cheating than anything else, but luckily these new abilities only come into play if you consciously choose to use them.
In the end, there's nothing included in this package that likely couldn't be found by sifting through the myriad of shareware and freeware Tetris variations that are available. But as an attractive, reasonably priced collection, Tetris Worlds is an adequate choice for hardcore Tetris fans or those who haven't picked up the game in a while.
Graphics: The 3D visuals are disappointing, but certainly adequate for a game of Tetris.
Sound: The soundtrack is a blend of new age and electronic tunes that serve as nice background music.
Enjoyment: Tetris Worlds had the potential to reinvigorate Tetris, but the execution is flawed.
Replay Value: It takes time to understand and become good at the six Tetris variations.
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