The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Tetris and touchscreen devices aren’t a natural fit. The necessity of tight controls and quick reactions seem to be at odds with a touch-only interface, but Tetris Blitz simplifies and streamlines the experience and makes it playable. Unfortunately, its antagonistic attempts at pilfering the player’s wallet made me want to stop playing early on.
The good news is the game part of Tetris Blitz is fun. It is played in two-minute rounds as you attempt to break your high score using the muscle memory Tetris abilities you have presumably built up over the years. You don’t directly control the tetrominoes as they fall; when a new piece starts creeping down the well, a number of white silhouettes appear on the top of the previously fallen pieces dictating where the piece could go. Tapping one of these silhouettes places the piece in that position, and the next piece starts to fall.
This is the easiest version of Tetris available, since Blitz automatically selects the best positions for piece placement, but your goal is different than in previous Tetris games. You’re not trying to survive; you’re trying to delete as many lines as you can in two minutes. If your Tetris pieces reach the top of the well within the two-minute time frame, the top four lines are automatically deleted to allow you to keep playing. It leads to pieces dropping very fast, and lots of quick decisions. I quickly grew to appreciate the structure, though it seemed a little cheap at first.
Those are the good things about Tetris Blitz. Everything else feels like you’re dealing with a used car salesmen who is far too excited to find out what it will take to get you in a car today. The whole scheme revolves around coins, which you earn as you play and use to buy power ups. Of course, you can also buy coins with real money, and that’s where Blitz focuses its harassment.
You can easily (and accidentally) place items in your inventory that you cannot afford. If you buy three laser-beams that delete random lines, and use them over the course of three games, the laser-beams stay equipped even if you can’t afford them anymore. When this happens, the game gives you a pop-up alert reminding you that you need more coins, and the only way to make the pop-up go away is to enter the store. There’s no “close this window” option. It’s like when the exit to the museum forces you to walk through the gift shop. If you want to move forward, you have to at least look at the merchandise.
A special store is also available to purchase things like a GoDaddy.com account, or sign up for Netflix through the Blitz app and get free coins. The game constantly reminds you of new power-ups you can buy, and that if you link the game to Facebook, you also get free coins. The buttons to make these pop-ups go away are very tiny and difficult to press, and I saw at least one between every game, but seeing multiples back–to-back is not uncommon.
Tetris Blitz is played two minutes at a time, but bypassing the pop-ups to get to the core game feels like it takes just as long. Not having to pay for the game up front sounds like a great bargain, but when you are bombarded the way you are in Blitz, it makes it feel like you’re getting ripped off, even if you haven’t spent a dime.
Email the author Kyle Hilliard, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.