Review: Tetris Ultimate 3DS

Man, I should have done this long ago…

Not only have I been a month out of commission, but I’ve also had less and less interest in playing this game for extended periods of time.  Normally this wouldn’t happen with a Tetris game, but I think this has happened because of the fact that there’s nothing new to offer here.

So let’s begin.  I’ve slotted in my copy of Tetris Ultimate and will be running through each sequence.

Right off the bat, we can see that the game has some loading, but goes directly into a menu, no title screen with a [Press start] or anything like that.

There’s a Tetris Feed which shows Friends and challengers alike who play against you in Tetris.  Single play and Challenge mode is where you’ll be spending most of your time.

Single Play –

  • Marathon:  Bog-standard 15 levels.  10 lines progression, based on rules that are stipulated in options.  Can set only starting level.
  • Sprint:  Bog-standard 40 lines.  no level progression, but you can start on level speed 15 if you’d like. (15G sprint is fun only for a few times)
  • Endless:  Not really endless, starts you off on starting level counting to the line count to get to that level, then goes 15G upwards, the speed gets sticky and messy at about level 25, so it doesn’t make the game an Endless drawl like the name states.
  • Ultra:  Bog-standard score rush for 3 minutes.  Would have liked more options (Minutes/Score)
  • Battle:  Standard battle without items.  Tetribot level and Identical queues can be set.  If you’ve played Tetris DS, you’ll be used to these levels.  There is a complaint about garbage that I’ll get to in a short bit
  • Battle Ultimate:  Battle with items.  The items now are a bit fairer, but don’t add variety and length to battles.

Garbage distribution in Battle/Battle Ultimate is grouped into sets of 4.  once the opponent sends 4 lines, the garbage hole moves to a new spot for another 4 lines.  This causes easy Tetris spamming if easily kept low and makes downstacking only slightly less-effective for the people who prefer messier garbage distribution (a-la Nullpomino or Tetris Friends.)

Another complaint about Battle/Battle Ultimate is the hurryup timer, which is set to 2 minutes, instead of the sub-standard 3 minutes for TF and Nullpomino.  Hurryup garbage does not determine how skilled a person is when it is a battle to keep the garbage to a minimum.

Challenge Mode ->

  • Rotation Lock:  One of the tougher challenges.  a slow-paced game where you’re free to take your time and think, but you can’t rotate pieces, so the game gives you preset rotated minoes to store lines.  there is a frustrating achievement for this which needs you to finish level 3 of this (complete 30 lines).
  • Invisible:  Slightly less challenging, and relies on minor reflexes of memory.  If you can remember where you put your last piece and can focus, you can win this quite easily.
  • Escalation:  Marathon with a twist.  Still very broken, but the amount of lines go up slowly instead of keeping to the default of 10.
  • Master: …Not really.  I finished this in my first try, and I can’t finish Master Mode on Tetris 3DS.  it’s basically a 20G/flipfest.

There’s very little aesthetic customization, only allowing for background effects to be turned on or off and the game position to be changed from top screen to bottom.  I’m disappointed that there’s no choices of minoes and fields, as this would have at least prolonged gameplay a short bit for me.  The choice of adding miis are minimal to the 3DS’ standards, and are simply there for identification purposes online while playing against other players.

There’s tons of gameplay modifications though, as options to set Delay Auto Shift (DAS), next queue amount of pieces, lock down rate, rotational system, randomizer and soft drop speed are available.  They are a little difficult to get used to, and there’s no means of testing via the options menu to make sure that you have the right DAS/Drop speed.  Currently playing on 10/10/6 for decent results of 20 to 30 lpm.

The game relies heavily on online features, and replays from local (Streetpass, local play and download play) and online leaderboards.  The userbase of Tetris Ultimate 3DS is small, and rather rare to encounter online, which makes this game lackluster to play against anyone with.

Online Lag is quite minimal, which is quite a large plus to the game, and local play with Download play participants also handles quite well.  Download play participants get the same gameplay options as you do, so your DAS and Drop speed is set for them.

The music uses different variations of one track – Korobeiniki.  from cafe-styled in rotation lock to heavy trance in Master mode.  There is not much variation and therefore the game loses a lot of interest in a quick sense.

The game is very stat-based.  The stats screen is the most detailed I’ve seen in an official Tetris game, and awards you for most of your efforts while learning more about the game.  The achievements vary from extremely easy to extremely frustrating, to almost unachievable unless you have the relevant skill to do such a thing, no less, there is a lot of practice that needs to be considered in these types of achievements, and a lot of room for error is in them.

Tetris Ultimate 3DS conforms barely to Guideline standards from the Tetris Company, even though the biggest complaint I have is that there is too much blue and not enough variation in the game.  The game lasts about 20-24 hours before you’ve unlocked everything and start losing interest in it.

The verdict:

Tetris Ultimate is a very lackluster game which handles well even with mediocre results.  Scoring is broken in relation to level and speed and battles last quite long because of poor garbage distribution.  Nonetheless, if you’re looking for something minimalistic and want a quick fix of Tetris, this game can help you achieve just that, providing both classic and modern takes on the thirty-year old game.