Iíve played every version of Tetris since the original CGA (thatís 3 colors for you youngsters) version from Spectrum Holobyte back in the 80ís. Itís always interesting to see how this game has evolved and all the various spins developers have managed to put on the falling-block puzzle game in the past 28 years. EA released an earlier version of Tetris back in 2010, which was basically nothing more than the iPhone version with native graphics support for the iPad, but with the release of Tetris HD, we finally get the best and most feature-rich Tetris game on any system to date.
I always thought of Tetris as one of those casual games, but EA has priced this sucker at $6.99 for its debut launch, putting it clearly in the premium game catalog, at least when it comes to cost. On top of that, they introduce a whole new in-game currency that begs you to spend more money on virtual T-Coins used to purchase unlockable content like new planets and abilities. After dropping $7 on the game itís a bit presumptuous to ask you to drop another $2 to $30 on coin packs, or even worse, subscribe to the T-Club for $3 a month or $30 a year. Do people really play that much Tetris? The good news is that you donít have to spend another dime on the game after the initial purchase since you will be earning your own coins while you play the game, admittedly at a much slower rate than buying them in bulk, but nonetheless, you will have access to everything the game has to offer if you put in the work.
Tetris HD offers familiar and classic modes as well as some refreshing new concepts. Marathon mode has you playing an ever-increasing speed challenge until the screen fills up with blocks, but One-Touch does something a bit unique. In this mode, as each new piece is about to fall you will be presented with several end destinations for that piece. You can simply touch the ghost image of the destination you want or tap cycle for new destination options and orientations. This is a great mode for people who donít like to move and rotate their own pieces and actually plays out a lot faster than traditional Tetris.
Galaxy mode is the big new draw to Tetris HD and the one that utilizes the new T-Coin system. This mode is divided into planets, each with multiple challenges that require you to solve the puzzles using the fewest Tetriminos. These levels start with a jumbled mix of preexisting blocks, and you must fit your falling pieces into this Swiss cheese structure to clear things down to ďground levelĒ. To assist you are a unique set of power-ups like the Anvil that can smash through layers, Fragment, that will turn any shape into individual squares that slip in to fill gaps, or Best Fit, which swaps the next block with one thatís a better overall fit.
You start each level with a certain amount of T-Coins and will earn more when you finish levels. Coins are used to unlock new planets and puzzles, and there is also a cost associated with each use of those Galaxy mode power-ups. Again, you can easily get by without spending any additional cash, but if your iTunes bank is greater than your patience you can always buy your way to success.
Tetris HD is a great visual upgrade with fun sounds and music and some cool new gameplay ideas like Galaxy and One-Touch, but in the end it is still just a Tetris game and $7 is a pretty high price for a game approaching its 30th anniversary no matter what improvements you make. EA could probably generate a lot more in-game sales and goodwill if they dropped this to $1.99. Only the most loyal of Tetris fans should probably consider this, at least until it goes on sale.