As you may, or may not have gathered, Tetris, originated in deepest Russia, the land of Stolichnaya, shot putters, and Doctor Zhivago. Fortunately for us, Tetris has now appeared on this side of the great divide, no doubt dropped off by Gorbachev after his last visit to Harrods! And what a cracker it's turned out to be.
Getting down to the nitty gritty, I can assure you that Tetris will have you hooked from the moment you pick up your joystick. The game is simplicity itself - in fact it seems so simple that I'm surprised no-one has thought of it before.
You are required to slide a number of different shaped blocks together, to form lines across the bottom of the screen. The blocks drop from the top of the play area, slowly at first, giving you a few seconds to turn and position each block as accurately as you can, to form the solid line. If this is accomplished (and it isn't always that easy!) the line vanishes, leaving a little more room in the playing area to position more blocks. And so on.
Failing to fit shapes together in some kind of order can create a kind of block traffic jam, giving you less and less room to manoeuvre new shapes. If the pile reaches the top of the screen the game finishes. On the other hand, if you become skillo at the game, the speed at which the shapes fall increases, until the drop rate becomes so fast that if you blink you miss two or three blocks!
Points are awarded for placing blocks, and a nice bonus can be earned for completing a solid line. Line making should be your main aim, as the space it creates leaves more room for all the other shapes yet to drop.
Some of the shapes are simple to slot into place, while others, mainly the crooked ones, are an absolute pain. This is where the 'rotate' option comes in very useful. Spin a shape in mid-flight until you can easily slot it into the pile of blocks at the bottom of the screen. If you are quick enough a shape can even be shoved under an odd section to fill a gap, but make a mistake and the shape is stuck there for good. It takes rapid reactions and a very good eye even to beat the first difficulty level, so be warned!
As a package Tetris is well smart. The front end is pleasing and easy to use. The nifty scrolling top score message and graphical effects are also a visual treat, as are all the effects used throughout the game. It has the feel of a highly polished program, and it shows. For every level within the game, a different graphical background is displayed, all of which helps to lend the game a generous helping of style, and bumps up the addictiveness mark even further. Aurally the 128K version can boast a wonderful sound track and even the humble 48K has a suitably jaunty little number.
A cracker then, and if there is any justice in the world it'll be topping the charts by the time you read this. Tetris will appeal to shoot 'em up fans because of the need for quick reactions, and it'll also attract strategy/adventure buffs thanx to the large quantities of brain power you need to solve it. In fact this game is one of the very few inoffensive, non-sexist, non-violent computer games that will appeal to the whole family, from Grandma down to the pet hamster. So I urge everyone to check out Tetris as soon as humanly possible, or miss out on one of the most original, addictive and playable computer games for quite a long while.
If all that is not encouragement enough to purchase your copy (and I don't see why it shouldn't be) then Mirrorsoft has instigated the 1988 Tetris Players All-Comers Championship. The top ten scorers at Tetris will be invited to the National Final in London for a chance to battle it out for the Tetris crown. First prize -a holiday for two in (wait for it) Russia. I kid you not! Of course if you are silly enough not to buy your own copy of the game, you too will be whisked off to the USSR - for two weeks hard labour in a Siberian salt mine. Nuff said!
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