Tetris is the definition of a timeless classic. Maybe nothing highlights Tetris’ brilliantly crafted and addictive gameplay more than the fact its a game with no recognizable characters that was released at a time where having a strong protagonist seemed to be a must-have for any hit game (i.e. Super Mario, Samus).
Tetris is a simple game, and it’s best when it’s kept that way. It’s about dropping bricks and making lines—what more could you possibly need? When this formula is followed, it’s a recipe for success. But when it’s not… well… things can go off the rails pretty quickly. Here are five great Tetris games and five times the bricks just didn’t fall in the right place. Let's start with the good.
10 Great: Tetris Arcade
There are few things more satisfying than popping a quarter in the machine, wrapping your fingers around a joystick covered in pizza grease, and knocking out line after line as the entire arcade crowds around and marvels at your brick breaking skills.
The arcade version of Tetris has it all: multiplayer; different levels and challenges; and clean, easy-to-use controls. Playing Tetris at home was fun, but the arcade version allowed players to really put their skills on display for the first time.
9 Great: Tetris (Nintendo Game Boy)
Tetris works so perfectly on the Nintendo Game Boy, it almost feels as if the two were made for each other. The controls are fluid, the gameplay is a blast, and the presentation is simple, yet satisfying. It's no surprise that Tetris sold 30 million copies on the Game Boy, making it the second-best-selling Game Boy game of all time.
If you're lucky enough to still own a playable copy, chances are you still play it all the time. And if you don't, maybe it's time to talk to your parents about what's okay to be given away when they're cleaning out your room and what isn't.
8 Great: Tetris DS (Nintendo DS)
Tetris DS is a game that winks at Nintendo's past while bringing the block dropping classic into the future. Clear lines on the bottom screen while Super Mario leaps along the top, or try to beat your high score as Bowser snarls at you.
With multiple modes (standard mode, mission mode, even touch mode), Tetris DS boasts hours of fun, button-mashing gameplay.
7 Great: Tetris (TI-83)
Playing Tetris on a TI-83 calculator was a true labor of love. First, you had to find a classmate who already had the game. Then, use your calculator link cable to download it. Then, you could watch your GPA slowly plummet as you find yourself playing Tetris through your entire math class.
The crazy thing is, this was actually a really good port of the game, and arguably rivaled the version on the Game Boy. For those who were fortunate enough to get a hold of it, Tetris on the TI-83 was an "I just need good enough grades to graduate" student's dream come true.
6 Great: Tetris Attack (SNES)
While it's not technically a Tetris game, it does have Tetris in the title, and that lands it on this list. The gameplay of Tetris Attack is more similar to something like Candy Crush or Bejeweled, and the story mode involves Yoshi having to save his island and his friends from the evil Bowser.
Where Tetris Attack really excels is in its multiplayer mode, which is some of the most fun head to head couch multiplayer you'll ever experience. If you can find a copy, don't hesitate. Now, on to the worst...
5 Terrible: Wordtris (SNES)
Arguably, the most fun thing about Tetris is the satisfaction you get from fitting different shaped bricks into one another and watching as the lines in your wall vanish.
Wordtris does an excellent job of completely removing this from the game, replacing it instead with the task of arranging falling letters into words. It's a lot of fun, in the same way that elementary school spelling was more fun than Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Hard pass.
4 Terrible: Faces... Tris III (PC)
A theme among the worst Tetris games is that they inexplicably seek to replace the thing that works the best about the original game, the bricks, with things that literally don't work at all. Enter: Faces... Tris III, a game that's title makes it sound more like a John Woo movie than a video game.
The goal is to line up different parts of peoples' faces as they drop to the bottom of the screen. Or, you could always just...look at pictures of people, you know? Swing and a miss.
3 Terrible: Tetris (iOS)
It's not that the iOS port of Tetris is bad, per se. It's more just that Tetris doesn't work without a controller. The touch screen controls are a valiant attempt at a mobile alternative, but Tetris is a game that relies on the satisfaction of precisely setting up your piece, tapping a button until it's exactly how you want it, and slamming the down button.
The iOS game loses all of this. Not that it's necessarily its fault, but for better or worse, the game just doesn't work. Plus, in-app purchases? No thanks.
2 Terrible: Tetris Worlds (Xbox)
You know what Tetris has always been missing? A story mode. Sure, these bricks are falling from the top of the screen, seems like they want to be put into a line, but the question remains: why? Where are these bricks from? What do they desire out of life? Where is the future taking them?
All these questions are finally answered in Tetris Worlds, and it shouldn't surprise you that the answer to all of them is brutally uninteresting. Gotta give them credit for trying something new, but it's just not necessary.
1 Terrible: Hatris
So, they're hats now. The blocks are hats. It's hard to believe this game is even real. What was the pitch session like? "So listen, this Tetris game, it's flying off the shelves. People can't get enough. We need to strike while the iron is hot. What do we got?"
"Hey boss, what if it's hats?"
BRILLIANT! So, yeah. If you like Tetris but are trying to get your start as a hatter, Hatris is definitely for you. If you're anyone else, you may want to go talk to your parents again about if they're sure they gave that Game Boy away.