Software Review: Tetris

There are a number of video games that could be described as a classic, but perhaps none more so than Tetris. The game that instantly brings to mind images of St. Basil’s Cathedral and Tchaikovsky’s Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy had appeared on nearly every computing platform and has spawned countless variations and spin-offs.

Tetris for Windows Phone 7 is an Xbox Live game developed by one of the biggest names in gaming, Electronic Arts. With a classic game like Tetris, there’s no question about the entertainment value of the game itself; the real question is how well the platform lends itself to the game-play. The full review is after the break.


Tetris for Windows Phone 7 offers a couple of options for moving and rotating the pieces. Tapping different areas of the screen will rotate your pieces in different directions, and swiping to the left or right will move the piece across the screen. Swiping down on the screen will “hard drop” your piece, meaning it drops straight down and you have no further opportunity to move it to either side; you can also slide your finger down the screen slowly to perform a “soft drop”, allowing you the opportunity to move the piece afterward. You can also swipe up to hold the current piece for later use.

I personally still prefer hardware buttons for Tetris if I have the option, but the touch-screen controls are reasonably easy to manipulate, and there is almost no learning curve.


In addition to the play-until-you-lose Marathon mode, there are a number of “Variant” modes that offer a number of different twists that add significant difficulty to keep even the most die-hard Tetris fan on their toes.

One thing that I REALLY liked about Tetris that I haven’t seen in any of the other Xbox Live games that I’ve played is that the game provides you with feedback on your progress towards your Xbox Live achievements. For example, one of the achievements is earned when you accumulate 1000 lines. You can easily find out how many lines you have achieved to that point, and adjust your playing style in order to reach your achievements more quickly.


Tetris has been one of my favorite games for many years, and Electronic Arts has done a very good job of making this version extremely playable despite the limitations on hardware controls; though I do still have some trouble with the controls as the game starts to get faster. The addition of the Variants is especially appealing for someone like me who has played Tetris on numerous platforms for so long that the standard game mode starts to get a little old.

My only real knock on Tetris is that at $4.99 it is one of the more expensive Xbox Live titles available; and though it’s a lot of fun, it doesn’t compare in scope to games like Need for Speed (also $4.99) or The Harvest ($6.99). I would’ve liked to see the pricing closer to the $2.99 mark, but even at the current price I think it’s one of those games that will appeal to a lot of those casual gamers out there. My recommendation is to grab the free trial and see how fast your addiction takes hold.

Tim Ferrill