Tetris is the last employer of a great deal of computer game consoles. For years I kept my NES around, partially, sure, due to the fact that I believe it is unusually great to take a look at, however primarily due to the fact that it indicated Tetris on the TELEVISION. Equally, I reckon there are a great deal of Game Boys out there that just play Tetris nowadays; I have at least 2 in my home someplace. After that it begins to get a little scary: as the years have actually passed, my DS is mostly still active due to the fact that of Tetris DS, a Nintendo-themed blow-out marked by scrappy creativity. And if we enable Lumines into the fold, then jeepers: the PSP is never ever without the Lumines UMD, and my Vita is generally a stunning device for playing Electronic Symphony, a video game that had the audacity to alter the method the fuse block worked – and I enjoyed it for that.
One day I reckon the Switch will be a maker for Puyo Puyo Tetris, Tetris 99 and Lumines Remastered. It is all a little remarkable truly, like the part in a thriller where the moron who will be eliminated understands simply how far the conspiracy has actually currently spread out. And now here’s Tetris Effect: Connected. Not material with being the last employer of the last generation of consoles with Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s luminescent spin on the most essential computer game ever, now Tetris Effect is showing up in rejigged type at the start of a console cycle. And it’s on Game Pass. What hope is there for any of us?
It’s unified, I reckon, that the last employer of a great deal of computer game consoles now has a mode with a last employer in it. Tetris Effect: Connected is generally Tetris Effect, that cosmic pleasure, with a multiplayer suite included. (You might argue the leaderboards in Tetris Effect were currently a quite enticing multiplayer suite, however believe me, this is even much better.) And the brightest star in the brand-new multiplayer constellation – ill-advised to opt for an example there, however Miz does things to me – is Connected itself. Three versus one, or more typically 3 versus an AI. Monster Hunter Tetris. WOW Raid Boss Tetris. Abel Gance’s Napoleon with the three-part-projection Tetris. Jeepers!
Quickly, however, a really quick refresher in Tetris Effect itself. Tetris Effect is Tetris by method of Lumines – it’s been reconstructed around themed skins that bring the audio and visual aspects into all sort of intergalactic resonances, and it’s likewise obtained Lumines’ technique of differing the speed of play in fascinating methods, so Tetris no longer has that issue of being a video game that simply gets much faster and faster till it’s unplayable. There’s likewise a Zone downturn capability that enables you to keep cleared lines on screen for a couple of woozy seconds so you can construct on them, producing clears of 6, 7, 8 rows simultaneously. The Tetris tower of your hypnagogic dreams. And there’s a lot of interesting experiments that take Tetris and turn it into all sort of other things. It is actually among the best video games of perpetuity and for when I do not feel especially odd typing that.
Anyway! Connected. Connected links you up with two other Tetris players and pits you against an AI boss. Actually it pits you against chains of AI bosses, with different difficulty levels, all built around the zodiac.
What this means is that you and your two allies play separate games of Tetris while the boss also plays their own. The boss’s victories translate into flinging attacks at you that generally mess things around – knocking holes in your lines, or raising the floor, or delivering giant pieces into the well, that kind of thing. Your victories, meanwhile, steadily build a meter that eventually allows you to join up your three games. I am going to say that again in italics, because this is one of those War-Declared moments that newspapers used to live for. You build a meter, right, that eventually allows you to join up your three games. So all of a sudden all three of you are taking turns to drop pieces into a very wide shared game of Tetris and clear as many lines as you can. Panoramic Tetris!
This has been carefully handled. You can see where the other players are going to place their pieces at any time. And you also have to take turns. So two of you might have an eye on the same spot, but if the other person is ahead in the queue you are going to have to move on. The boards you bring into play are gently rearranged, with all the gaps knocked out, but you can still play tactically in waiting for this join-up moment to occur. And then there’s Zone, the slow-down that allows you to stack and stack and stack.
And when this connection happens, well, something astonishing takes place. Collaboration. Wordless, elegant collaboration. Three strangers building a Tetris line together, across space, and with no means of communication beyond the pieces themselves.
I have always felt that puzzle games are amongst the most internal of games – abstract worlds of wordless actions, games that really foster the creation of private language (when Tetris Effect tutorials refer to the game’s matrix, for example, there’s an X-Factor record scratch in my head every time because it will always be the well to me). These are games that feature things which there is simply no language for at all. And yet Tetris Connected joins up three strangers and it all works. There is a kind of communication inherent in simply knowing how the game is played, in knowing it innately. It turns out I know Tetris well enough to understand what a stranger is planning on doing with one of those awkward Z bricks. It flattens me that this works as well as it does.
All this, and your lines cleared as a team finally zap into the boss’s game. Victory can be swift and devastating. Even better, at the weekend I gather that another human player can play as the boss, so victories can be swift and devastating and personal.
I should probably talk about the other modes. Multiplayer stuff is available in ranked, friend, and local varieties, and there’s lots of levelling up and avatar unlocking to be done. Because this is Mizuguchi, there is a sort of intergalactic framework to all of this that involves black holes and a pyramid at the centre of the universe. I am on board with this even though I try not to think about it too much. That said, just googling around today to write this, Tetris Effect has lead me to discover the Zone of Avoidance, so Miz continues to deliver for me on multiple fronts. (Also, playing this in the early days of a console launch, Xbox Live has been a little wobbly. I have had the odd connection issue, but it’s hard to know what to blame that on precisely and I am tempted to believe it will calm down.)
Outside of Connected, there are three more modes, all two-player: Zone Battle, Score Attack, and Classic Score Attack. They are simple but great. Zone Battle is one versus one but you fling your cleared lines at the other player to mess them up. Given that you can trigger Zone play in this game, it means the whole thing is fast and aggressive.
Seriously, it is a knackering game mode, but very beautiful. I always lose, and swiftly, yet I am stunned into cheerfulness just by being close to such brilliant play. Zone Battle is for the show-boaters, the Ulimatris Masters. It reminds me a bit of watching fifteen minutes of flamenco dancing in Spain once, fifteen minutes that involved four costume changes and a guitarist who was dripping with sweat by the end of it, while the wooden floor was reduced to kindling. It was so vibrant, so much a combination of music and dancing and passion and energy, that it was both hypnotic and exhausting to watch. This is Zone Battle. It’s glorious but deadly.
Score Attack is much more for people like me. It’s not for the fighter pilots and flamenco dancers out there, but for the diligent Tetris plodders. I plod my way to victory pretty handily here sometimes. The idea is that it’s one versus one again but you can’t influence the other board. I play my game and you play yours and whoever has the highest score wins. No Zone, I think, but you can still hold pieces and do hard and soft drops and all that sweet jazz. It’s a very refined way to pass the afternoon – I can imagine Captain Hastings really getting into it. What I especially like – beyond that it is a primer on remembering the hidden importance of the Combo system – is that when one player has crashed out and the other has won (you can see whether you are behind or ahead on points at any moment) there is this sort of decision revolving around politeness to consider. Tetris etiquette. Tetriquette. Do you keep playing regardless, or do you bow and tower your game to a swift conclusion so that everyone can get on with their lives with a little dignity? It is a fascinating problem for a game to throw out there.
Finally Classic Score Attack is the same deal but with original Tetris rules. No hold, no hard or soft drops, no indicator of where a piece is going to land other than the indication that your own Tetris smarts provide. This mode is not just a reminder of how good Tetris has always been, even when unadorned, but it’s likewise a reminder of what the Tetris Effect difference is: every action has a sound, and every sound builds into an organic kind of performance. For some reason I hear this most clearly now in this mode, when the game is at its simplest, riffing on NES visuals and the original soundtrack, riffing, reworking, remixing.
It’s almost unfair, really, to take a game that was already so fearsome and sort of find a bunch of ways to make it even more interesting and dynamic and maddening and beautiful. Whenever I think of Tetris Effect – and Tetris Effect: Connected, which once again, I should reiterate, contains the original video game as well as the multiplayer stuff – I think of Laniakea, which serves as a map to the campaign screen and is also the supercluster that is home to the Milky Way, the Great Attractor, and so numerous other billions of glittering wonders and fancies. Load up Tetris Effect and it constantly reveals you where we live. And in playing it, it continues to reveal us a little something about who we are.