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A.P.I Review: The Next Tetris
Developer: Atari/Blue Planet Software OPTIONS: S.SHOT
No.1   No.2   No.3
Distributor: Hasbro 1-2 Player
Game Type: Puzzle Memory Card
Review Date: July 1999 Dual Shock/Analog Compatible

Setting the Scene

Created way back in 1985 in Russia, Tetris (in one form or another) has become one of the biggest sellers in the history of videogames. Unless you have lived your life in complete seclusion for the past 10-year or so, you are surely familiar with the game and it's multiple variations since introduction.

The game consists of seven shapes that are each composed of 4 square blocks. The premise is simple, maneuver these randomly falling shapes into a line or row. Once the row is complete it disintegrates. Clear the screen of all the rows and you are the winner and get to proceed to the next level where the shapes begin to fall ever faster. It's this simplicity, but depth in strategy that makes Tetris so unbelievably additive and nerve-racking.

The game has seen many variations in the past years, from straight Tetris style clones to the more creative games such as Tecmo's Stacker's or Capcom's brilliantly conceived Super Turbo Puzzle Fighter 2. The Next Tetris attempts to take the classic Tetris style game and add a few ingenious twists while still keeping the basic premise of the game intact. Read on to find out if they have succeeded or failed miserably.

Sound & Vision

The music has a nice upbeat futuristic techno tempo that you can tap you feet to. It keeps things moving and can be considered a bit "perky" at times. A nice feature on Next Tetris is the fact that you have the ability to pop in your own music CD to listen to while playing the game. I rather enjoyed placing my little Tetris blocks to the tunes of Pantera or Aerosmith…it gave things a nice little edge. You can also adjust the volume from the shoulder buttons, which I thought was a great idea.

The sound effects are rather nice and play their part well within the structure of the game. Nice little unexpected explosions occur when blocks of the same color blow-up or a nice cluster of rows are evaporated.

The graphics are rather simple as one would expect from a Tetris style game, but the developers have taken an extra step to liven things up by adding a good deal of special effects, animation and a background that consists of a moving collage of colors.

When a series of blocks are successfully removed from a row, they quite literally explode outwards from the television and give the illusion of coming straight for the gamer. Nice effect!


Never one to pass up a new Tetris game, I was looking forward to the release of Hasbro's The Next Tetris. From first glance it appeared to retain the integrity of the original, but added enough subtle improvements to makes things fresh and interesting again.

Upon starting up the game you are presented with the option to play the Classic version of Tetris, which is basically a bare bones version of the original game or jump into The Next Tetris. Once you jump into The Next Tetris screen you see an onscreen cylinder containing various options that rotates up or down to allow for your selections.

The game alloys one or two players to participate and you can also choose from marathon games, practice mode and set-up options. From set-up you can choose to insert your own music CD, save or delete players and game data, configure the music, sound effects and voices and turn the vibration feature on or off.

The game keeps tab by a process called Rank. In the one player mode you start off the game in the 2nd rank with a row of garbage that needs to be cleared off to win the round. Clear off 3 rounds to move up to the next rank. Each rank gets progressively more difficult because of two simple little things; more garbage lines are added to the bottom of the heap and the pieces fall ever more rapidly.

The Next Tetris takes these basic elements and adds the following twists…

Some shapes are multi-colored. The four blocks that make up a shape will now be distinctive and where the colors differ, those blocks can be sheared or jettisoned from the original shape. Strategically placing these pieces can lead to benefits such as cascading.

Cascading occurs when pieces drop from above a completed row and "cascade" into the rows below. Careful placement of pieces can often result in cascades of 4 rows or more. In single player mode it can really help you to reduce your times to clearing a board, in two-player mode a large cascade can be devastating to your opponent (more on this in a bit).

Blocks now "wobble". Besides the neat graphical effect, I haven't been able to find out any strategic advantage, but it's cool looking.

When dual shock enabled you will be able to feel cascades and placement of crucial pieces. It's a kinda weird sensation and I always got the feeling that my controller would vibrate whenever I place a shape into a bad area. Probably just my imagination or paranoia running off again.

Gameplay offers the same incredibly addictive elements, but with these little added benefits whole new strategies come into play and can be used.

The control is rock solid and you can still use all the usual moves such as twisting / turning pieces to fit them into spaces, jumping pieces, and fast drops.

So, you basically have a very nice variation of the Tetris theme for a single player, but it's when you turn to the two-player game that the action really cranks up a few more notches.

In two-player mode there are two Tetris arenas, one for each player. Gameplay is basically the same, but now cascades are very important to the person able to execute them successfully and devastating to the person on the receiving end. The action breaks down like so…

Clear two lines and the opponent's playing field will spin on its X-axis. Clear three line and it will spin on its Y-axis and 3 cleared lines will cause the play field to spin on its Z-axis. Now add a few cascades to the mix and you get utter chaos! 2-3 cascades spin the opponent's play field many times. 4 cascades will spin the play field many times AND darken the play field so your opponent cannot even see the pieces falling. 5 cascades will do the same damage as four, but will also change all of the shapes into the same color (gold). Just to be fair, the effects will wear off after a little while…but by then it is normally too late for your hapless opponent to recover.

To wrap things up, The Next Tetris is a really nice update to a classic. It still contains that some pulse pounding excitement from the original and also manages to through a little something extra into the mix. There is a nice leader board that shows high scores, best times, best cascades, best Marathon and best player. The interface is superb and the gameplay is everything you would expect from a Tetris style game.

GRAPHICS: 14/20 The next Tetris is a superb update to an old classic. The package contains the original game plus the new version so you can compare and see just how much has been put into the new title.

The single player mode is engaging and entertaining but the two-player mode is really where it's at. Playing this game against a friend will provide "edge of your seat" tension and excitement.

The game is simple to learn but contains a devious strategy curve where you learn to create and use cascades to cripple your opponent. The better you become at doing this the more consistent you will be at winning.

The graphics, while pretty simple, have been updated with some nice vibrant colors and great animation effects.

The Next Tetris is quite capable of ushering in a whole new generation Tetris fans while retaining advocates of the original title.
SOUND: 8/10
VALUE: 17/20


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