Last week at the Nintendo Direct, Tetris 99 was announced and released on the same day. Little did anyone know that the final form of Battle Royale had arrived.
The set up is simple, Tetris, a game loved by adults and young people alike. A game that needs no introduction to be able to play but a lifetime to master is juxtaposed with the current gaming trend of Battle Royale. It seems so ridiculously simple yet what it does is open the survival and brutality of this genre to anyone who has ever played Tetris. The result is possibly the finest anonymous multiplayer game that has existed.
The 99 other people you play are faceless, the cannot communicate with you, yet are your mortal enemies for the few minutes each game lasts. You could be blissfully making lines when suddenly 7 people target you at once and you are killed with the same suddenness as a quickscope in COD. You are shocked but back you go for the hope that one day it will be you that does the damage. Here the survival loop catches you and you play another game and another and so on. Sometimes you make it into the final few other times you are destroyed instantly. Who would have known that Tetris could be so brutal?
You can just see people, lapsed Tetris grand masters suddenly taking notice of the newest kid on the multiplayer block and like a samurai master you dust off your sword and destroy the young pretenders. This appeal or the belief that this is you sucks the players in and gets them trying. Luckily when they are in the gameplay is fantastic. The other 99 players screens are displayed around yours and if you are skilful enough you can target individual players with the right stick, otherwise you can set a focus on players that are close to KO, are attacking you, have badges or random. To date I haven’t found out if there is an advantage in any of these set patterns. You just try and play your best game until it gets to the business end of things.
When it gets there, things can get ugly fast. You can be hit with enough blocks from other players to instantly end your game if you aren’t being diligent in scoring yourself. When you see how many lines are about to be dumped on you, you can make your own lines to mitigate this, or you can hold a straight line of blocks in reserve just to fire straight back at the attackers. Further tactics are for people who are better than me.
The presentation is minimalistic and fast and you are no sooner defeated than back into the next game. The only thing that stops you playing is the battery life of your Switch.
A game like this doesn’t need many words to describe it. It is simply Battle Royale for the masses. Even though you may not like the shooter-based variants. Tetris can be played by many but mastered by few. This is one of the best mash-ups ever made. It is such an obvious pairing, made so well that it is amazing that it hasn’t been done before. It’s out now, free with a Nintendo Online Subscription.