Think you've mastered the game of Tetris? Know how to defeat all your friends? Know exactly where each block should go the second it touches the screen? Well, forget all that and throw it out the window. The Next Tetris is here, and you're going to have to unlearn everything you know. This is the game's most appealing feature, but also its biggest flaw.
Unlike previous incarnations of the Tetris brand, there is a definite end to each stage in The Next Tetris. The game places blocks on your screen at the start of the match and it's your objective to clear them off. This held my attention at first, but after a few minutes I was simply aching to go back to Tetris on the Game Boy Color - it just didn't feel right to only clear boards. Tetris has always been about seeing how long you can last.
Then I discovered how to make use of the new multicolored Next Tetris blocks. Now this was a game.
This is where you'll have a whole new game of Tetris to master - I played the game every single night for about a week, and I still didn't come close to figuring out exactly how to place each block. But the block placements I did come to understand really left me with a feeling of accomplishment. So it's not the old-style Tetris we've known over the years, but The Next Tetris manages to become a fun game in its own right. Kudos to Blue Planet Software for coming up with this new spice for the Tetris formula.
Where The Next Tetris - and basically any Tetris, for that matter - really excels is in its two-player game. The "first one to clear the blocks wins" formula makes for great rivalry and is quite addicting. But here's where I noticed how one really has to relearn Tetris strategies. Instead of attempting to make sure there are no gaps in your lining of blocks (as you've been trained to do from past Tetris games), in the Next Tetris it's OK to have gaps - often, they cause big chain reactions when blocks fall. Also, performing a Tetris (clearing four blocks at one time), the biggest accomplishment in past Tetris versus modes, does nothing more than shake your opponent's screen in this version. These new features definitely take some getting used to.
Tetris has never been about advanced graphics, so when I say that The Next Tetris' graphics look pretty generic it should come as no surprise. There's nothing wrong with how the game looks, but there's nothing really new or extraordinary to be found here. The blocks, which are polygonal so they can stretch and shake, are quite cool though. Aurally, the game does the job as well. The soundtrack is mostly upbeat techno that includes several remixes of past Tetris anthems. My only gripe is that I wish there were more tracks. I'm not sick of the six or so tunes yet, but give me a few more weeks of playing and I'll surely start switching over to my CD player for audio.
I'd recommend this game to anyone looking for a new Tetris fix - it's definitely different enough from the other versions to warrant a purchase. Once you discover the beauty of The Next Tetris' new block system, you'll immediately become hooked. But again, be warned - this is not the old-school Tetris you've gotten used to over the years. I suppose many people will be glad to hear that, though... It's time for something new.