Drastvitye, droogies!! Uh, that's "Hello friends!", in Russian of course! O.K., so you could care less about the language lesson, but I think you will be interested in Tetris, the blockbuster puzzler from the Soviet Union that is infiltrating your local arcade now!
Based on the award-winning computer game, which itself has become an award-winning Nintendo game courtesy of Tengen, Tetris combines elements from both strategy and fast-action reflex titles. The object of the game is to manipulate various shaped bricks to form solid horizontal lines while not allowing the bricks to stack to the top of a rectangular playing area. A brick, which is composed of four square pieces, will fall from the top to the bottom of the area or until it hits another brick below it, after which another block will begin to fall from the top. You can rotate each brick, move it to the left or right, and increase its descent toward its final destination. When one or more lines are formed by the various pieces of several bricks, they are eliminated from the area and allow the bricks resting on top to drop lower into the area, creating more space and time to manipulate the next piece. Double points are awarded for filling two lines at once, triple for three lines, and a special bonus for a TETRIS, four lines at once. After a given number of lines have been filled, the round is completed and bonus points are awarded for any blank lines in the area before the next round begins.
The game features three levels of play and a two player challenge game. In a two player game, the screen is divided vertically. Each player plays the same game on each side of the screen and an arrow indicates which player is ahead in the round. The player that completes the round first receives bonus points.
Atari has also included all the "bells and whistles" (or are those "bells and missiles?") for even more fun. The demo mode displays the top player's initials in bricks at the bottom of the play area (similar to Crystal Castles) and Russian dancers tap their toes if you take too long to complete a round. Though the graphic quality is below par, the Russian musical score and addicting game play more than compensate.
Tetris can best be described as video game's answer to the Rubik's Cube. It's refreshing to play a game that doesn't say "Hey, I look and play just like Double Dragon". A tribute to its designers, Tetris effectively hides its depth of play behind a simple joystick control and even simpler rules.
Yes, it seems we have been invaded, but it appears that the enemy is here merely for a friendly challenge. Tetris is a great game and the coin-op version is the best format yet. Dosvedonya!! (Goodbye!!)
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From Russia with Love...
Most of the video games that you play in the arcades and on your Nintendo and Sega systems come from developers and programmers in Japan. Computer games, on the other hand, are usually developed by the legions of software houses in the United States and Europe. Many of the most popular computer titles reach these shores due to licensing agreements with foreign companies based in England, Germany, and France.
One developer/programmer team that is not cast from the conventional mold of Europeans and Americans is made up of Alexi Paszitnov and Vagim Gerasimov. This pair comes straight from the motherland where Paszitnov, a 30-year-old Soviet researcher who works at the Computer Centre of the USSR Academy of Scientists in Moscow, and Gerasimov, an 18-year-old student studying Computer Informatics at Moscow University, combined forces to produce one of the hottest original game ideas ever. A not-so-simple game of blocks called Tetris, The Soviet Mind Game.
Tetris combines many elements from a number of gaming genres. It's a reflex-tester with strategic overtones and arcade-style pacing that keeps the action level at a constant high. The game touches so many different play themes that it has had little difficulty succeeding as a computer import and will soon make its long announced arrival to the Nintendo Entertainment System. Tetris will also do what only a handful of games have ever done: complete the gaming circle and appear as a corn-operated arcade game courtesy of coin-op giant Atari Games.
Examining the Phenomenon
Some call it a cult following, but whatever the driving force is behind the popularity of Tetris it is definitely not a boring game. The problem is that it's also not an overly active game either. You never control more than one piece of the Tetris puzzle at once, and the animation of each of the pieces is limited to four different positions. No, it's not the graphics and not the animation that make Tetris so addicting. And it's not the series of Russian tunes that add atmosphere to the title. It's the totally consuming and absolutely absorbing game play. Tetris is one game that highlights the importance of good play before graphic masterpieces.
Taking a Look at the Game
Tetris is surprisingly easy to play. The goal is simple - fit the five game pieces together as they fall from the top of the screen to the bottom. If an entire horizontal line is filled that row of blocks is eliminated and any other blocks that are built up descend one level. The challenge is to keep the blocks from stacking and progressing up the screen. Once the bricks have no room to fall, the game is over.
The game really heats up by throwing in an abundance of risk incentives that range from higher point awards for moving the blocks down the screen into their final position faster to heavier bricks that increase in speed with each level completed.
Fitting blocks together may sound like the easiest video game you've ever heard of. The truth is, however, that even though you only have five different shapes to move in a maximum of four different positions, keeping these blocks from quickly forming a huge wall and ending the game is a feat that will challenge even the best players. No matter what your gaming talents may be, don't look for any rewards from Tetris.
Tetris for the Nintendo Entertainment System
Tengen has faithfully captured the mind-bending fun of the original PC version of Tetris and, like they did with their NES home version of Gauntlet, have added many new and exciting features that make the game even more playable.
The most notable differences between the computer and Nintendo versions of Tetris are the slick, refined graphics that the Nintendo version boasts, as well as two-player interaction that lets you compete with a friend or even the computer! You can also select one of four musical themes prior to playing. And watch out for the delightful intermissions that introduce a quartet of dancing Soviets in between rounds. All of the little bells and whistles that were absent from the computer original can now be found in the brilliant Nintendo version of this new gaming classic!
A U.S. National Video Game Team Award Winner!
While Tetris won't win any awards for being a hard shooter or riveting adventure, it does capture a multitude of the play mechanics that make these types of games so appealing. Simple but original game play make Tetris an addictive alternative to and endless supply of shoot-em-ups, kick-em-ups, and bash-em-ups, and very worthy of the U.S. National Video Game Team's coveted "Players Seal of Approval".
The first game software from the Soviet Union is an intense battle of wits. Rotate and flip moving geometric blocks into unbroken rows. When you fill up a row, it disappears from the screen and your score rises. Nothing to it, right? Wrong! When you can't find the way to make the pieces fit together and more blocks tumble down ever faster, you'll wish you had ten hands -- and ten brains. Play this addictive mind game by yourself, against a friend or against the computer.