Tetris (PSP Mini) (Video Game Review)

Video Game Review
Tetris
Sony Playstation Portable (PSP Mini)
2009
Developed by: EA Mobile
Published by: Electronic Arts

Tetris, in theory, would seem like a hard game to screw up but every year we are witness to a few horrible versions of the game. However, EA did an incredible job with their PSP Mini version of Tetris. The game plays extremely well. In fact, this is the best handheld version of Tetris since Tetris DX came out for the Game Boy Color in 1997.

The rules of Tetris are simple; rotate and place falling blocks together like puzzle pieces so there are no holes from one end of a line to another. Fill in an entire line on the playing area and it disappears. Rinse and repeat until the game gets too fast and you bust out. The person with the highest score out of all your friends is the best while everyone else is now referred to as minions or commoners.

The graphics look crisp and clear in this game. Sure, the PSP is capable of making the visual appearance more stimulating than what’s offered here but with Tetris, simple visuals are better. The colours pop-out nicely and everything is designed well enough that there isn’t any confusion as to what is appearing on the screen.

The sound is decent. It’s a mix of the classic Tetris theme infused with modern beats. It works but it would have been nice to have been offered the option to play song files off the media card. Considering that Tetris isn’t coming close to using up all the power that the PSP has to offer, it would seem like a feasible option. That’s not to say that the game soundtrack is bad. The major hang-up with the sound is that it’s not all that memorable; they’re definitely not the earworms that the original Tetris tunes were.

One of the major criticisms of Tetris games over the years is that it seems each version offers less challenging gameplay over the last iteration. Through the years, we’ve seen changes to the gravity of the falling blocks, the ability to hold blocks for later use, power-ups and the ability to see more than just one of the next blocks in the queue to fall from the top of the screen. This version of Tetris incorporates many of these changes to the recipe but minimizes their impact on the gameplay. Even though it doesn’t feel as challenging as the original versions of the game, it still manages to maintain the addictive gameplay. That’s been a major issue for Tetris throughout the years; there have been too many additions to the formula to make it easier for people to get through but since the overall experience feels less rewarding, it’s replay value is diminished greatly. This version of Tetris still has plenty of challenge even though the game spoonfeeds the player quite a bit. It’s still much better than most other Tetris games and other puzzle games for its generation.

The extras are nice and make the package feel more complete. The only complaint would be that while these games are fun, chances are that most people will have their fill with them after a couple of tries. The concepts are interesting but they’re comparable to the piece of lettuce served with one’s meal at a restaurant; makes the dish look nice and is edible but you really could care less about it with steak on your dish. For those keeping score, the main Tetris game is the dish and the only reason to buy this title. Most of these extras are enjoyable with few of them feeling like a waste of time. Still, it’s not why you’re going to be buying or playing the game.

EA’s version of Tetris is a solid addition to anyone’s PSP lineup. It is one of the few Minis that is platform specific so you can’t play this version on the PS3 (although there is a version available). It’s not the best portable version of Tetris out there although I did prefer it over Tetris DS. However, most people are not carrying around a Game Boy or a Game Boy Advance anymore so the older five-star worthy Tetris games are inaccessible to most. If you’re a Tetris fan, this is the version that you should own if you like to play the game on the go.

☆☆☆☆

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