Tetris is about stacking blocks for as long as you can to get the highest score, but EA Mobile's Tetris Blitz takes that experience and sets it within a time limit, creating a game that is bite-sized but just as frenzied.
"Tetris is a great classic game, but it's a marathon game, and it's not something you can do when you're in a hurry or commuting," EA community manager Mallory Day-Schilder told Polygon. "It takes a lot of time to get that high score, and we wanted to condense that experience."
Day-Schilder says the idea was to keep the urgency but shorter the required investment time. Like basic Tetris, players have to complete horizontal rows of blocks, continuing to build them until they fill the screen with unconnected blocks and fail. Unlike the original Tetris, Blitz puts a two-minute time limit on the experience, so instead of building until failure, players have only so long to build as much as possible. The game also pre-picks several possible locations to place falling blocks, eliminating the agony of deciding where to place them while they slowly inch downward.
Players are given power-ups and special finishing moves to help them achieve that high score. Power-ups will shift the on-screen blocks in productive ways, whether it be opening areas to fit a specific block or pushing all blocks down to fill in holes. For example, the Avalanche power up will sift all blocks downward to close gaps, while the Magnet power-up pulls all blocks to the left, filling in holes that way. Each round, players can pick three power-ups, all of which are available for purchase in-app.
Two minutes may seem like a long time, but the engaging mayhem that is Tetris Blitz wouldn't let me tear my eyes off those blocks.
EA will release one new power-up every week in an effort to offer adaptive and varied gameplay, said Day-Schilder.
"We want people to be able to change the way they play," she said. "The more power-ups, the more options. We'll recycle them occasionally, so if you don't buy it the first time you will have the option to buy it later."
Finishers are another feature that will help players achieve a last-minute score boost. Finishers have dramatic effects, like dropping a wave of blocks down from the top of the screen to quickly fill in holes. Multiple finishers can be used at once, allowing for an even more spectacular finish.
There are some other neat tweaks in Tetris Blitz, including a frenzy mode that speeds up both the block drop rate and remixed Tetris background music. During a frenzy, more rows of blocks are also pushed up from the bottom of the screen, giving players an opportunity to make even more connections.
You can't fail, you can only get a low score.
There is a countdown timer in the lower right of the screen, but I never found the opportunity to actively check it while I was playing. Two minutes may seem like a long time, but the engaging mayhem that is Tetris Blitz wouldn't let me tear my eyes off those blocks.
Perhaps the best idea to be incorporated in Blitz is the idea that you can't fail, you can only get a low score. I attempted to fill the screen with blocks and "die," but once I got to the top of the screen, the game automatically removed several rows. Blitz automatically makes five or six rows of space so you can keep going; the only way to stop you is that two-minute timer.
"We made it easier, because Tetris is a game you can really into but needs a large chunk of time to play," said Day-Schilder. "Now you can just focus on getting that high score."
Tetris Blitz will be released for iOS and Android this spring.