TETRIS has been around about as long as I’ve been around. It’s initial release date was in 1984 (I arrived two years later). When I was three years old TETRIS was bundled with the Game Boy and it is still one of the most popular games around (in many updated forms). I spent many car rides and road trips playing Tetris on my Game Boy.
TETRIS was definitely one of the first games I ever played, and to this day I own and continue to play several versions of Tetris. I think it may be my most purchased game. Here’s a list of all of the versions of Tetris I have owned and continue to own today:
TETRIS (Game Boy)
The original Tetris (Game Boy) was my first Tetris experience (possibly my first gaming experience). I was three years old when it was released, so I’m pretty sure it first belonged to my older sister (like my other first Nintendo consoles, NES and SNES). I still own my original copy of Tetris from my childhood, even though I didn’t have a working Game Boy to play it on for a few years.
In high school, I ended up indefinitely “borrowing” a Pokémon-themed Game Boy Color from my friend’s little brother. To be fair there was a drawer that had three or more Game Boy’s in it, so I felt it was ok to take one (and never give it back). I remember taking the Game Boy Color to school to play Tetris in class, instead of the Snake game on my Nokia phone, like everyone else.
TETRIS 2 (NES)
When I found my Tetris 2 (NES) cartridge recently, I had zero recollection of the actual gameplay and what made it a sequel. I’m pretty sure that means I didn’t enjoy it very much. I had to look up a YouTube video of Tetris 2 gameplay since I haven’t found my updated NES system in my house.
The problem with Tetris 2 is that it strayed too far from the original. The blocks (aka Tetrominos) were the same, except each one was multicolored. The grid started off with a few colorful blocks and the point was to match three of the same color in the row, instead of filling a whole row to clear the board.
The reason why Tetris has managed to stay relevant for so many years is that it’s such a simple game. Anyone can pick up Tetris and figure out what to do. That surely wasn’t the case with Tetris 2. The most popular newer iterations of Tetris don’t change the rules, but instead add a new look or some new mechanics like the games below.
EA TETRIS (iPhone)
EA released an iPhone and Android version of Tetris over 10 years ago, and I became very obsessed with it. I ended up having to delete the game from my iPhone a few times over the years. You can read more about my obsession with iPhone Tetris here: Addiction (Ferdi’s Learnings).
This version of Tetris translated smartphone gestures perfectly. Of course, when the tetriminos started falling too fast you would make stupid mistakes, but that’s the case in any version of Tetris.
I recently tried redownloading this version but it seems EA has lost their Tetris license, or for some reason it has been taken down. I’m not a big fan of the replacement version. The EA version introduced a new “bank” mechanic where you could save a piece for later. This came in handy helping me clear four lines at once (aka a “Tetris”) many times.
I gave the new version a try but it has a sort of HQ/Candy Crush feel. It has daily money giveaways and a Tetris Royale mode. I just want to play Tetris marathon on my own and not worry about all of these other modes.
Puyo Puyo Tetris (Nintendo Switch)
When I first heard Puyo Puyo Tetris was coming to Switch I was excited because I love Tetris but never had experienced Puyo Puyo. I still don’t really understand Puyo Puyo. I know how it works and how to get rid of pieces on the board, I just don’t think I’m doing it the most effective way. (It’s sort of like Tetris 2, but not).
There are two things I really enjoyed about this game, though. One, you can play against others with both players playing a different puzzle game. I can put my Tetris skills up against someone else’s Puyo Puyo skills. Second, there are modes that mix the two games together. Although it gets very confusing at times, it’s neat to see a mix of the two games at once.
I know that Puyo Puyo Tetris II was released late last year, but I am not yet done with Part 1. I recently jumped back in and may just stick with the adventure mode.
EDIT: I jumped back into the adventure mode in this game and even though it’s either Tetris or Puyo Puyo or some mix of both, they still managed to create a bunch of different challenges throughout the levels in adventure mode. Also, this version of Tetris also has the “hold” space where you can save a tetromino for later, and I always try to bank a bar in there.
TETRIS 99 (Nintendo Switch)
Tetris 99 is one of the least violent versions of the Battle Royale trend that is so popular right now. You do still attack other players, by tossing your cleared Tetrominos to their boards.
Battle Royale Tetris is a good way to finally find out how good you are at Tetris. I always thought of myself as a pretty decent Tetris player, but I now know that I am somewhere in the middle. I have never won a Tetris 99 match, but I have come in the top 10 (possibly top 5). This version taught me the value of T-spins (when you land a T-piece in a space and adjust it until it fits. This is how you get bonus points and land bigger attacks on your opponents.
TETRIS EFFECT (PS4/PSVR)
I have never played Tetris Effect in Virtual Reality, but it is one of the few games I would love to try on a PSVR headset. It is definitely the most beautifully designed version of Tetris yet.
It’s also the most rewarding. Since this game has a journey mode that’s broken into levels it gives you a feeling of progression. Each level requires a certain amount of cleared lines until you move onto the next level featuring a different style and music. The speed and difficulty from your previous level moves on to the next one (as long as you don’t lose), but the change of scenery and sounds makes it feel like a brand new experience.
The music reacts to what you do. Sounds are added to the beat as you spin and land your pieces. The music and design in each leel starts off simple. Colors are added and the music gets louder and more complicated once you reach a certain point. It sometimes gets a bit distracting, but is well worth it.
EDIT: I played this game recently and learned that the speed of the game actually moves from slow to fast and then back to slow again in certain levels, depending on the music. I think that is genius and something I hadn’t ever seen in Tetris before this. The final level of journey mode did this a few times and it totally blew my mind.
I love that I have so many versions of Tetris to play. I can take a quick break on my Game Boy with the original game. I can battle a friend in Puyo Puyo Tetris, or a bunch of strangers in Tetris 99. And I have Tetris Effect to chill out to with some tunes.
Although Tetris is one of the most simple games (to understand and learn) it can also be a very hard game once things start getting out of hand. Tetris also teaches us a valuable life lesson — No matter how much you mess up, you can always find a way to fix it. However, you may just end up making everything worse and worse until you’ve piled all of your problems on top of each other and run out of space.