Tetris could easily be called the patriarch of all puzzle games. It's safe to say that nearly every puzzle game released since its 1989 debut has, in some way, tried to emulate aspects of the Russian mindbender. Some have been able to take the "shapes in a pit" concept pioneered by Tetris in an entirely new direction, sometimes creating a more compelling game. Crave, the current proprietor of the Tetris namesake, has released The Next Tetris On-Line Edition, imbuing the Tetris formula with the current console buzzword - online play.
Next Tetris operates slightly different from traditional Tetris, adding a color-coding mechanic to the mix. Basically, some of the shapes that come down the pipe are made up of different colored squares, and, when the shapes touch down, gravity kicks in; if there is empty space underneath the shapes, the different colored blocks slide down, filling the gap. It's a novel idea, but instead of making players take on new strategies, it tends to encourage a barrage of sloppy bricklaying.
The Next Tetris On-Line Edition presents two flavors of Tetris - Classic Tetris and Next Tetris. Classic Tetris is fairly straightforward, and it lets you jump right into a single-player marathon game of regular old Tetris. The Next Tetris side offers a single-player, a two-player, a marathon, and, of course, an online mode. This smattering of modes offers little variety, as the single- and two-player modes are identical. The offline modes could have been forgiven if there were a strong online component, but this is not the case. In fact, the online play is identical to an offline two-player game with the addition of a global-ranking system - a system that is, for all intents and purposes, useless, since as of this writing it was near impossible to actually find anyone to compete against. This is not to say a community won't form, but with the all-around lackluster nature of the game, it's highly improbable.
The game attempts to add some visual flair to the mix with an animated background, but there is only one background, and watching the same drab gray quasi-mechanical 3D shapes in motion gets old fast. Adding insult to injury, the game suffers from occasional slowdown. The game's sound is stripped down, though what sound it does have is downright offensive: Sound consists of bad techno remixes of the classic Tetris themes with a handful of original grating electronic tracks thrown in for good measure.
Crave is guilty of cashing in with The Next Tetris On-Line Edition in the worst way - they've taken an existing game, The Next Tetris, added a laughable online component, and are peddling it as an entirely new game. The game itself isn't terrible, but unless you are absolutely aching to exercise the online capabilities of your Dreamcast, there is really no reason to pick up this game.