Tetris Evolution

Kevin Garcia

Tetris Evolution starts with the tried and true concept of Tetris and takes it somewhere it's never been before: Xbox Live.

Publisher: THQ
Genres: Puzzle
Price: $29.99
Multimedia: Tetris Evolution
Platforms: Xbox 360
Number of players: 1-4
ESRB rating: Everyone
Developer: Mass Media
US release date: 2007-03-19
Developer website

Tetris has gone down in history as one of the most influential games of all time. The simplicity and addictiveness of the gameplay has yet to truly be matched as no game since has so fully captured the imagination of gamers and nongamers alike.

Maybe that's why THQ decided to put almost no effort whatsoever into the Xbox 360 version.

Tetris Evolution starts with the tried and true concept of Tetris and takes it somewhere it's never been before: Xbox Live. I mean sure, it's been on the internet before and it's been on Xbox before, but it's never been specifically on Xbox Live. So that's something.

I grew up with Tetris, both on the Commodore 64 and, most notably, on the original green-screened Game Boy. I loved the game, and wasted hours of my life making those ever-recognizable blocks fit together. My mom loved the 1989 game. She even claimed the Game Boy as hers for a few months solely for the included Tetris cartridge. As great as the game was, however, it needs more if it's going to be brought to the latest generation of home consoles, and apparently, the creators at THQ have yet to figure out what that "more" should be.

There are ways to make Tetris more fun. This was proved by last year's version on the Nintendo DS, entitled, brilliantly enough, Tetris DS. Utilizing the capabilities of the system and the icons Nintendo is known for, Tetris DS revitalizes the classic Russian franchise and allows players to play tetromino tennis matches in new and exciting ways.

Evolution does not do this. Heck, even the DS version's website is more exciting than Tetris Evolution.

I forced my friends to play a few hours worth of Evolution with me. Now, even a bad multiplayer game (like, say, Red Steel) can keep these guys occupied for a half-a-day, but this was torture. After playing traditional Tetris for a few minutes (I kicked their butts in points), we tried the other gameplay options.

Hotline mode was also, admittedly, pretty interesting, as it made the goal of line-clearing a bit more challenging. The best way to win is allowing the blocks to build up so specific lines can be cleared for more points.

My buddies liked Cascade mode the best, although the specific mechanics of it are still a bit of a mystery to me. By setting up a series of purposefully placed gaps, completing lines will allow floating blocks to drop and potentially complete new lines for more points. Creating combos, as the guys called it, was fun and made for a fast-paced short game. Great for killing a few minutes, tournament-style gameplay or rotating in players when Live isn't an option.

Overall, though, the styles of play are not that different from what we've come to expect from Tetris. We may as well have been playing Flash Tetris.

The developers did find uses for some of the 360's features. Shoulder buttons, for example, allow unwanted pieces to be held for later, swapped out for better pieces. Swapping is fun, although it feels an awful lot like cheating considering preparing for each block, no matter how difficult, has been the whole point of Tetris since the beginning. The system's HD-ready graphics are utilized by neato 3-D backgrounds and the sound is also pretty decent.

Of course, updates also come with problems. In one match, despite my spending most of the game without a line even a fourth of the way from the bottom of the field and my friend nearly filling screen as soon as he was able, because he was able to climb the stairs. Climbing the stairs, as he called it, is rotating the tetromino as fast as he can by repeated button hits. As long as those blocks kept spinning, no new blocks would fall and all he had to do was avoid carpal tunnel syndrome and wait for me to eventually screw up. An annoying experience, but we got a laugh out of it.

And that was about as exciting as the game got. I continued playing the game, as that's required for any decent review, but I don't know that I'll ever crack open its box again. Even the publishers seemed to have little faith in it as the cover design looks like it took all of five minutes to create and the instruction booklet has that exciting black-and-white interior that all the least interesting games have.

To sum: Tetris is a great game, and Tetris Evolution is Tetris, but in the end, that's all it is.





The 60 Best Albums of 2007

From tech house to Radiohead and Americana to indie and everything in between, the 60 best albums of 2007 included many of the 2000s' best albums.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Solitude Stands in the Window: Thoreau's 'Walden'

Henry David Thoreau's Walden as a 19th century model for 21st century COVID-19 quarantine.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Will COVID-19 Kill Movie Theaters?

Streaming services and large TV screens have really hurt movie theaters and now the coronavirus pandemic has shuttered multiplexes and arthouses. The author of The Perils of Moviegoing in America, however, is optimistic.

Gary D. Rhodes, Ph.D

Fleabag's Hot Priest and Love as Longing

In season two of Fleabag, The Priest's inaccessibility turns him into a sort of god, powerful enough for Fleabag to suddenly find herself spending hours in church with no religious motivation.


Annabelle's Curse's 'Vast Oceans' Meditates on a Groundswell of Human Emotions (premiere)

Inspired by love and life, and of persistent present-day issues, indie folk band Annabelle's Curse expand their sound while keeping the emotive core of their work with Vast Oceans.


Americana's Sarah Peacock Finds Beauty Beneath Surface With "Mojave" (premiere + interview)

Born from personal pain, "Mojave" is evidence of Sarah Peacock's perseverance and resilience. "When we go through some of the dry seasons in our life, when we do the most growing, is often when we're in pain. It's a reminder of how alive you really are", she says.


Power Struggle in Beauty Pageants: On 'Mrs. America' and 'Miss Americana'

Television min-series Mrs. America and Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana make vivid how beauty pageants are more multi-dimensional than many assume, offering a platform to some (attractive) women to pursue higher education, politics, and more.

Hilary Levey Friedman

Pere Ubu 'Comes Alive' on Their New, Live Album

David Thomas guides another version of Pere Ubu through a selection of material from their early years, dusting off the "hits" and throwing new light on some forgotten gems.


Woods Explore Darkness on 'Strange to Explain'

Folk rock's Woods create a superb new album, Strange to Explain, that mines the subconscious in search of answers to life's unsettling realities.


The 1975's 'Notes on a Conditional Form' Is Laudably Thought-Provoking and Thrilling

The 1975 follow A Brief Inquiry... with an even more intriguing, sprawling, and chameleonic song suite. Notes on a Conditional Form shows a level of unquenchable ambition, creativity, and outspoken curiosity that's rarely felt in popular music today.


Dustbowl Revival's "Queen Quarantine (A Home Recording)" Is a Cheeky Reproach of COVID-19 (premiere)

Inspired by John Prine, Dustbowl Revival's latest single, "Queen Quarantine (A Home Recording)", approaches the COVID-19 pandemic with wit and good humor.


The 2020 US Presidential Election Is Going to Be Wild but We've Seen Wild Before

Americans are approaching a historical US presidential election in unprecedented times. Or are they? Chris Barsanti's The Ballot Box: 10 Presidential Elections That Changed American History gives us a brief historical perspective.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.