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Tetris Ultimate

Tetris Ultimate Brings Some New Tweaks To Battle
by Jeff Cork on Jun 11, 2014 at 09:50 AM
Platform PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation Vita, 3DS, PC
Publisher Ubisoft
Developer SoMA Play Inc.
Rating Everyone

This year marks Tetris’ 30th anniversary, which is an impressive milestone for a game that remains relevant. Ubisoft is marking the event with the release of Tetris Ultimate, a downloadable game for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Vita. I played some head-to-head matches in the new Battle Ultimate mode, which adds some crazy power-ups to the core Tetris gameplay.

Battle Ultimate is basically competitive Tetris, only you’ll occasionally get a falling block marked by one of several power-up icons. Destroy the block, and the associated power-up with activate. Here’s what you’re up against:

Hip to Be Square: If you destroy this mustache-emblazoned block, your opponents’ next four tetrominoes will be in the square-shaped configuration. This can be good or bad news for them, depending on how their well is shaping up.

Carousel: This merry-go-round is particularly unnerving. If you get hit with this, your rows will slowly shift to the left for 13 seconds. If you’re not paying close attention, it’s easy to drop your blocks in the wrong spot, or for previously advantageous openings to temporarily disappear as your well of blocks is rotated at the bottom.

Buzzsaw: This is the only defensive power-up in your arsenal. Clear it, and three rows will be shaved from your well. Not bad!

Let it Rain: Do you like to be the worst person possible? You’ll love the Let it Rain power-up. This one drops garbage blocks into your opponents’ side for a brief period of time, fouling up their plans. It’s fun to watch, but not fun when it happens to you.

Haunted Well: In an homage to Tetris: The Grand Master, this one makes your opponents’ side of blocks invisible until they drop four blocks. All the while, a spooky ghost wails.

I played several rounds of the game, and I liked how the power-ups added some variety to the matches. Like a lot of people, I’ve been playing Tetris for decades now, and it’s great to see something different added. Purist should know that Battle Ultimate is just one of several modes, so they won’t have to worry about mustaches taking over their revered game.

Marathon offers a vanilla Tetris experience, with the goal of hitting the 15th level. Battle is like Battle Ultimate, only without the power-ups. Sprint challenges players to destroy 40 rows as soon as they can. Ultra is a points-based game, with the goal of hitting the largest possible score in three minutes. Endless is essentially marathon mode with a different name.

Players can also tweak the game to their liking, too. Options include obvious changes, including showing the next block (up to the next four), eliminating the hard drops, and turning off the ghost block that helps players visualize where their tetromino will land. Then you can dig deeper, tweaking the speed of drops and turns, and even how blocks are chosen, from the modern “random seven” concept that adds a little bit of fairness to block selection or true random drops.

These options allow players to recreate their favorite Tetris versions from over the years. I spoke with game designer Florence Vaillant, and she said that the team went back and even set up the old Game Boy rules. 

Look for Tetris Ultimate this fall. 

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Tetris Ultimatecover

Tetris Ultimate

PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation Vita, 3DS, PC
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