Tetris Blitz Review: The fastest block dropping game on Windows Phone 8

Russian computer engineer and game designer Alexy Pajitnov created Tetris for PCs way back in 1984. But Tetris first caught the public eye when Nintendo packed it in with the original GameBoy portable console in 1989. Since then, a number of companies have licensed the game and put their own unique spin on it, with the versions from Nintendo (especially Tetris DS) and Sega (Sega Tetris for Dreamcast) standing above the crowd.

Publishing giant Electronic Arts has also produced several Tetris games, including the 2011 Tetris which appeared on Playstation 3 and Windows Phone 7. This year’s Tetris Blitz is EA’s latest version, marrying the time honored Tetris gameplay with the frantic pace of Bejeweled Blitz. Tetris Blitz arrived on Windows Phone 8 a respectable four months after iOS.

Does this version deserve a spot on the list of best Tetris games? Read on to find out.

Fastest Tetris ever

Some players have complained that Tetris doesn’t adapt well to touch screen controls. In truth, it adapts as well as any other console-style game like platformers, shooters, etc. You lose a bit of precision, but you gain the ability to play anywhere – any serious mobile gamer has come terms with that by now.

But Electronic Arts isn’t just targeting the people who buy Gameloft games on their phones with Tetris Blitz. They’re targeting the casual gamers who eat up games like Bejeweled and Candy Crush Saga but don’t take the time to learn more complex control schemes. Hence, EA invented a clever new control system for Tetris Blitz.

Under the new control scheme, players don’t manually rotate pieces. Instead, every time a new piece appears, the game suggests four places to drop it. Tap one of those outlines to instantly drop the piece in place. If you don’t like the suggestions, you can press the Cycle button at left to toggle four more suggestions. Or just drag your finger along the stack of blocks and then release to drop the piece in a different spot.

This shift in control schemes takes a little getting used to for experienced Tetris players, but most gamers will adapt right away. Dropping pieces instantly speeds up the gameplay quite a bit, which is the name of the game in Tetris Blitz. But you can also switch to traditional swipe controls in options if you’re not concerned with speed.


Seeing as how Tetris Blitz is modeled after Bejeweled Blitz, games last for only two minutes. Players must try to rack up as many points as they can during this time. You can do so by clearing lines, but you’ll also need to make Tetrises (clearing four lines at once) to increase your score multiplier.

The new Frenzy mode helps with scoring as well. As you clear lines, the Frenzy meter to the left of the field rises. Once the meter fills, Frenzy mode activates. Suddenly the screen starts flashing and easy to clear junk blocks appear at the bottom of the field. Points earned from clearing lines doubles. Frenzy lasts only a short time, though clearing lines during a Frenzy will extend its duration.

Once two minutes tick down and the game inevitably ends, players receive a small pile of coins and an even paltrier sum of XP. Experience contributes towards leveling up, which in turn gets you… a few coins. Yeah, leveling up has no other point than a coin bonus. Not the most compelling metagame, honestly.

Powerups and IAPs

Blitz lacks a solid long term goal (other than Achievements), but it does have a decent weekly goal. See, only a handful of the game’s 14 powerups are unlocked by default. To use an available powerup, you have to spend the coins you’ve earned or bought via In-App Purchase (IAP). Powerups are absolutely necessary to achieve high scores.

To get the rest of the powerups, you can spend money on disturbingly overpriced IAPs. We’re talking six bucks to unlock a single power-up. Doesn’t that sound great?

However, one of those premium powerups is usable on a temporary basis as the Powerup of the Week. If a player manages to use that powerup 90 times, it will unlock for good. So that’s your real goal for the week – spend coins on the Powerup of the Week and play 90 games so that it will unlock for good. I don’t personally find the game compelling enough to do that, but at least EA gives players a way around the crazy high IAP prices.

Other IAPs include coin packs, the ability to hold an extra Tetromino for later use, the ability to see the next three Tetrominos coming up instead of only one, extra spins for the lame daily spinner minigame, and disabling ads.

Facebook closed

Tetris Blitz is one of those rare Xbox Windows Phone games with Facebook integration. Even The Sims FreePlay (also from EA) had its social features stripped from the Windows Phone 8 version, but I guess EA considered them more important for Blitz.

The Facebook integration here allows players to view their Facebook friends’ high scores and send them challenges. It’s not much, but it does offer a measure of cross platform competition. This game is awfully light on content so it needs every little advantage it can get.

Sadly, the Facebook integration completely broke for me a couple of days after I started playing. When I try to log in, I get the dreaded white screen with red text that we once suffered through in Ice Age Village. It just sits on that screen, forcing me to back out and choose to play without signing in. Oh, but the game will still remind you to sign in to Facebook between games, even when Facebook no connect-y.

Fail to connect to Facebook and you can’t even see your Xbox Live friends in the Leaderboards. Why? Sure, some players are still able to connect to Facebook, but based on the negative reviews in the Store, this problem affects a fair number of users.

And more bugs

Broken Facebook connectivity isn’t the only bug afflicting Tetris Blitz. The Powerup of the Week, which should be half off as an IAP, appears at full price while the previous week’s powerup shows up at a discount. Way to encourage a purchase!

More disconcertingly, sometimes the game will just free up for several seconds and then start working again. These freezes kept happening to me over and over one night, making the game completely unplayable. Since then, it hasn’t happened to me. But again, Store reviews show the freezes are a widespread problem.

Some users report that the option to Exit from the game does not work for them. I don’t have this problem, but I sympathize. At least the Windows Phone 8 GDR3 update will allow users to close any app from the Fast App Switching screen.

Finally, I hear the game crashes quite frequently for some people.


Okay, one more bug: the in-game counters that SHOULD show progress towards Achievements simply don’t work. The most time consuming Achievement is for clearing 100,000 lines. We should be able to see how many lines we’ve cleared, but due to the tracking bug we cannot.

Tetris Blitz also has a useless Achievement for unlocking every other Achievement. That sort of Achievement makes sense on platforms like the Playstation 3 which don’t have GamerScore. But under the Xbox ecosystem, everyone can tell you’ve got all of a game’s Achievements because you’ll have the full 200 (or whatever number) of GamerScore. Shame to waste an Achievement on the equivalent of a Platinum Trophy.

Overall Impression

I’ve always had a soft spot for Tetris, and I wanted to love Tetris Blitz. But I don’t think Electronic Arts spent enough time on the game design or UI with this one.

Leveling up is essentially meaningless instead of rewarding, and players who don’t care about leaderboard competitions (or can’t view the leaderboards, like me) or Achievements have no reason to keep coming back. Tetris Blitz feels like an extra mode you’d ignore in a more robust Tetris game.

The Facebook problems, busted IAP pricing, and other bugs don’t do this version any favors either. Hopefully EA patches things up with an update or two. Blitz is not a bad game, but it could be so much better.

  • Tetris Blitz – Windows Phone 8 – 32 MB – Free – Store Link

QR: tetris Blitz

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • Typical freemium game. I enjoy the Tetris game play but refuse to shell out money for temporary boosts, particularly when the game frequently locks up, costing you precious seconds. In a time-based game, FFS.
  • I spent $200 on this game already. Glad it was free or I would have felt like I overpaid.
  • Arf!
  • You have too much free time bro... ._.
  • You do not have to pay $$ for powerups or even use them
  • Crap why didn't it say that in the tutorial
  • I know you don't have to buy them; hence the "free" in freemium. Of course, you are strongly prompted to do so, and this particular brand of Tetris loses some of its appeal when its fast-paced nature is hobbled by a player's in-game poverty.
  • I like this game. It is a  nice freaking game.
  • Great freaking review man, I freaking agree.
  • freaking awesome then
  • But it was supposed to be a reference lol
  • Sorry I didn't get the freaking reference bro. Thought you freaking were as excited as I freakin was.
  • lol
  • *freaking lol
  • I was wondering why they security thing came up for this. I deleted my apps connection on FB and it worked again but then started this again. Same with alot of my apps like Groupon. Was there some security change?
  • In Facebook, yes
  • So many bugged out games and it passes the dreadful Xbox live certification process.. Makes no sense they take all this time and then let a buggy game go through.
  • The Xbox Live Certification process is the biggest hindrance to the growth of games on WP. They don't add any value for anyone, just headaches for all. Not worth the price just for achievements.
  • Agreed.
  • Shhhh, don't say that to loud. You will wake the "if its does not have achievements i refuse to play" trolls
    Xbox live integration gives no benefit and this game is a clear example of that
  • Heck yeah. Due to it, I can't get my fucking Asphalt7 for free. Damn, how the hell do they expect a student to get a freaking credit card?
  • You could use a PayPal account instead.
  • I was hoping EA would release bejeweled blitz but after having this kind of buggy games I wouldn't expect much
  • "EA" and "Expectations" should never be used in the same sentence without "Low".
  • I think they make a lot of great games, actually. But no publisher is perfect.
  • EA deserves way more credit when it comes to WP, we should be glad to have them.
    The game is good fun, but could use an update to improve overall performance. 150/200 so far without spending anything, that seems fair to me.
    Thanks for the review!
  • EA stands for Expections Assaulted/ Adulterated or Experience Aggravated.
  • Superb game, very addictive but please EA, sort FB bug.
  • I refuse to use FB until EA sorts this out.
  • Sucks some serious juice on my 925 so need to be mindfull when and if I decide to play. Also it feels like it is to easy to make a purchase with the purchase confirmation screen appearing for me a couple of times despite not concensiously trying to buy anything. Good game but has some niggles for sure.
  • What abou the "closing" bug? On my Lumia 820 and my friend's Lumia 620 the game closes after we play one game... is difficult to play more than one game without it closing... I even don't play it anymore because of that...
    Yes, I've reinstalled.... nothing...
    Facebook and freezes bugs happens to me too...
    Waste of time complaining about that to EA on twitter. Nothing's done...
    Tetris Blitz and Temple Run for Windows Phone, the most disappointing games for WP ever!
  • I haven't had that problem, but I added it to the review for ya.
  • Thanks for your attention!
    Is the same crash that Temple Run has... you are playing... then... the game closes... just that......
  • Really no one? =/ My phone: Nokia Lumia 820 GDR2
    Playing with 4G connected all the time...
    SD card on my phone
    Brazil if it helps................
  • Find out that playing with 4G connected was crashing my game.... when I leave only WiFi connected the game runs normally.
    Fixed the Facebook problem by removing the game permissions on Facebook and adding them again...
  • Seriously that nobody is mentioning the horrible crash when you it with internet connectivity? The first time it crashed my whole system and it was stuck right there for 10mins until I have to soft reset
  • The only time I had to soft reset my phone, was when it came out and I've tried to play the first time... the "can't exit" bug made me reset...
    But sadly we have NOTHING to do about those crappy games they release.... I'm very frustrated about Temple Run (not Oz) and now with Tetriz Blitz... I'm giving up gaming on WP.... no fun... love the plataform... but not for games!
    PS: Even if those problems don't happen to everyone they should take a look to see why it happens for a lot of people!
  • This game has sucked my battery juice like Jamison. I simply stopped playing from all the crashes it has become
  • Completely unplayable heh??? Sounds familiar!!! Weirdo! ;)
  • How unprofessional of you to say that! :-P
  • Anyone know why this game requires location services?
  • Either because of the Facebook integration or they just forgot to uncheck the option when submitting it to the Store.
  • Facebook integration is broken. it's broken in Songza as well.
  • Groupon and some other apps as well.
  • I was very excited the day Tetris Blitz launched as I love puzzle games. I downloaded it and started playing and was immediately surprised by just how much the Freemium experience ruins the game: you get nagged constantly to log into Facebook, to buy IAPs (which are way, way, way overpriced), ads are bountiful, and the main point of the game (comparing scores with friends) is rendered meaningless since there is no standard of comparison (it's not who is most talented at Tetris, but who used the most boosts) and since the leaderboards either don't work (the Xbox ones, for instanced) or reset weekly nullifying the purpose of trying to achieve a high score. Then I was taken aback by how many bugs there are. The game runs slowly and freezes constantly on my Lumia 928. Not acceptable. I tried to forget all these things and attempted to still enjoy the game, but I am really surprised how quickly I lost interest in it, which is a shame because it could've been a really fun, social puzzle game.
  • I really love this game on my Windows Phone!
  • I played it once when it first came out and did enjoy it. But, I could not find a way to actually exit out of the game properly and haven't played it since.
  • Try pressing Back, going to Main Menu, pressing Back again, and choosing to Exit.
  • Would be nice if it was patched to fix the Facebook integration issues!!!
  • Goto http://m.facebook.com/privacy/touch/apps/?_rdr on your phone, remove Tetris blitz reload fb link and it works, until you close the game.
  • This makes my phone freeze.
  • It's lagging on my 920 sometimes when I'm playing.
  • The backing out of the game issue seemed to occur only in the initial tutorial. Once the tutorial was over and the normal games started backing out is totally normal. I noticed that the occasional freeze of the game seems to be related to the strength of the internet connection. When my phone is connected to a good wi-fi signal the game runs without any problems. When there is a weak wi-fi, and the phone seems to switch between wi-fi and 3G, that seems to trigger the freezing issue. I completely ignore in app purchases and that initial spin thing is pretty lame, always get the same 'rewards'. I even try coordinate to get maximum number of spins per day but I never manage to get that 100K reward! Anyone ever managed to get that in the spin??
  • 1. Facebook credentials cannot be retained and everytime need to tap login (painful)
    2. Crashes sometimes
    3. 2 mins limit per game is little way too less.