Review: Tetris (PSP minis)

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Everyone knows Tetris. Everyone loves Tetris. Alexey Pajitnov’s masterpiece of a puzzle game has addicted literally millions and millions of players over the past 25 years on virtually every single video game device known to man. And now it’s surely going to do the same on yet another platform: the PSP!

Released last week in conjunction with the launch of the PSPgo as one of the debut PSP minis titles, EA’s new PSP Tetris captures everything we all know and love about the classic puzzle game and dresses it up with a shiny new coat of “futuristic” paint and a wealth of side content you may not have expected from a diminutive downloadable game.

Tetris for PSP is classic Tetris through and through. Flipping Tetrominoes around with the face buttons and fitting them together into horizontal lines to clear them away and keep the screen from filling up controls as well and is as hypnotically addictive on the PSP as it’s ever been. I’m not a huge fan of the remixed Tetris theme song – it’s plenty catchy, sure, but they didn’t need to mess with what was already the catchiest video game tune of all time – but the other new sound effects, such as the chimes that ring when you clear a line, and the flashy new graphics modernize the game to compare favorably with other PSP puzzles like Lumines.

What’s more, EA packed in a bunch of different play modes, or “variants” as they are called, to beef the experience up and offer a change of pace from the usual “marathon” play. Altogether there are 12 different variants to unlock, each putting a twist on the basic falling-block formula. Playing in the Treadmill mode, for example, sees the play screen shift one space to the right every time you place a block. Then there are other variants like Flood, in which you have to clear lines while the screen periodically fills up with blocks from the bottom; Scanner, in which you need to prepare as many lines as possible before a scanner activates to clear them away; and Flashlight, in which the game screen is blacked out except for the cone of light that shines down from each falling block.

Each of these variants has 15 levels of difficulty to master as well, and the game itself features a built in reward system by which you earn various trophy-like “Feats” for performing certain bonus objectives, such as clearing 1,000 total lines, pulling off 100 total Tetrises, clearing 12 lines in one turn, and so on. Everything you do in the game is also stat-tracked, and on the main menu there’s a meter constantly keeping you aware of your current completion percentage. Thus you always feel like you are working towards a greater goal, not just piling a bunch of blocks together for the fun of it. For Tetris newbies, the game even provides a glossary of key terms in addition to a collection of “master replays” showing the play strategies of top Tetris players in each of the different variants.

At $9.99, Tetris may seem a tad pricey for a 25-year-old game that’s been milked over and over again – it is in fact the most expensive PSP minis game – but trust me, it is probably the most robust re-release of the game in recent years and, even if you already own it on other platforms, is totally worth buying again.

Be it the original version Alexey Pajitnov created so many years ago, the more recognized NES version, or this new PSP minis installment, Tetris still is and will always be the king of all puzzle games!

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Pros:
+ Same great Tetris gameplay
+ 12 variants jazz things up
+ Sparkly new graphics
+ Surprisingly deep stat-tracking and reward system

Cons:
– I want the classic Tetris theme song, not a remix!

Game Info:
Platform: PSP via PSN download
Publisher: EA
Developer: Artificial Mind & Movement
Release Date: 10/1/09
Genre: Puzzle
ESRB Rating: Everyone
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!