iPhone App Review: Tetris Blitz

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Tetris has been around for years, and pretty much everyone reading this will have played a version of it on one platform or another, so is there really any point in giving yet another edition a try? Absolutely, as not only is Tetris Blitz a slightly revamped version of the classic game, but it’s a freemium title, something which is always worthy of investigation, if only to warn eager players to be careful if the mechanic is used too aggressively. As it turns out, Tetris Blitz is a bit of a surprise, so let’s get into the game.

The idea of the game remains the same. Stack different shaped blocks, which fall randomly from the top of the screen, together to create solid horizontal lines, which then disappear and give you points. But this is Tetris Blitz, and like Bejeweled Blitz, there are a few changes to make it more modern. First, there is a two minute time limit on each game, turning it into a rapid play, high score challenge, rather than one based on staying “alive” for as long as possible.

Next, there’s no more twiddling the blocks around to make them fit, as the app automatically provides suggestions on where you can fit them, and you simply tap the space you prefer. You can hit the Cycle button to run through the options, but 99 percent of the time the space you want is in the first selection. While this is necessary in a game which only lasts two minutes (fiddling about with the shapes would take up half that time otherwise), it does remove almost all of the thought which goes into playing Tetris.

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Then there are power-ups. These are chosen before you start the game, and pop up in blocks as you play. They range from lasers which clear three lines for you, magnets which drag blocks into free spaces, and the addition of five seconds to your timer. There are also bonuses which are used at the end of the game to multiply your score. The final major alteration to the game is Frenzy mode, which is activated by forming as many lines as possible, where lines are worth double and more multipliers can be added by “cascading” blocks. This is where blocks in free air fall into the space below, potentially making new lines.

Cascade is an unusual feature, as to use it effectively requires forgetting how to play Tetris, since it works best when you leave blocks floating about. In original Tetris, this caused all sorts of problems, and veteran players will find it a hard habit to break. The power-ups are essential if you want to rack up a decent score, with those used at the end of the game being the best.

Electronic Arts gives you a few of these to try out, but then requires you to spend large amounts of in-game coins to get more. Coins are earned by playing the game, but in such tiny amounts you’ll have to play for months to earn enough to pay for the major power-ups. EA is generous enough at first, and 150,000-plus coins can be had for nothing if you’re prepared to sign-in with Facebook and jump through a few hoops. Other power-ups aren’t as expensive, and this amount of coins will see you play for sometime before running out.

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However, when you need more, you’ll need to pay real money. 50,000 costs £1.50, and the sky is the limit, with the top options costing at least £60. Tetris Blitz is ad-driven too, and if you want to get rid of them, you’ll need to hand over £3.50. EA doesn’t make the mistake of stuffing the in-app purchases down your throat every second, but they are there, and they do limit Tetris Blitz’s long-term appeal.

Silly coins aside, Tetris Blitz is a decent little game which doesn’t require much skill of thought to play for two minutes. However, if you’re expecting a true Tetris experience, this isn’t it, as the “real” game requires plenty of thought and skill to play well. Blitz is surprising because even though it has dumbed down an intelligent game, it’s still a fun play in short bursts. Our recommendation? Download it, do everything it asks you to do for free coins, then play until they run out; but as it’s an empty Tetris experience, we’ll bet you’ll be bored of it long before that happens.

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