Tetris Evolution

Tetris Evolution

Tetris Evolution

Darwin some, Darlose some.

On the surface of it, Tetris Evolution is a splendid idea - classic Tetris gameplay with all manner of variations, enough unlockable achievements to incentivise even the most jilted puzzler, and a range of multiplayer modes that allow you to face off against people online, or play with or against up to three friends in the same room. From a connoisseur's point of view, the most important option is likely to be the one that toggles "lockdown" - enabling or disabling the ability to spin a block endlessly, and even walk it over the top of the others, thus giving you time to think and effectively allowing a competent player to continue indefinitely, no matter how fast the blocks descend. Sometimes you feel like enabling it and sometimes you don't, and yet even the mighty Tetris DS - probably the best recent "spin" on Alexey Pajitnov's classic puzzle formula - chose to keep it turned on rather than allowing gamers to make the choice for themselves.

However, for fans hoping to have stumbled upon the ultimate Tetris package, that option's inclusion is a false indicator. It's there, and the "store" function (allowing you to keep a block in reserve - always a touchy subject) is absent, but also absent is any real variety, style or substance beyond the original '80s Tetris game, which even the occasional puzzler has by now played to death. (On the outside chance you need an explanation: blocks fall from above and you have to stack them so they form horizontal lines, which disappear when complete.) Here it's called "Marathon", and while it's joined by more than half a dozen alternatives, none is much more than a slight variation.

See if you can spot any similarities in these three: "Ultra" is about clearing as many blocks as possible as quickly as you can (one, three or five minutes), "Race" is about clearing as many blocks as possible as quickly as you can (10 blocks, 25, 40), and "Score" is about clearing as many blocks as possible as quickly as you can (to hit 5k points, 10k, 25k). That leaves four others, the most distinguished of which are "Cascade" and "Eraser". The former has you clearing lines so that the blocks fall down and jam into the holes beneath to form a cascade, while Eraser gives you a certain number of lines to delete (4, 6 and 8). Elsewhere "Hotline" is about clearing lines at specific points on the rectangular board, and "Go Low" gives you bonuses if you keep the top of the pile low down the screen. Compared to Tetris DS, which was effectively half a dozen puzzle games of varying quality that had been inspired by the original puzzler, THQ's offering - put together by a company called Mass Media - is indeed more of an evolution than a revolution.

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No sign of Tetris 360 in UK

Out next month across the pond.

As US Xbox 360 owners get ready to feast their fingers on the block-shuffling wonder that is Tetris, THQ UK today denied it had anything on the cards.