Tetris is fast approaching its 30th birthday, having originally been released in the USSR in 1984. What’s absolutely amazing is that Tetris has lost none of its appeal in those three decades, gaining new fans along the way and pleasing each generation in turn. It’s arguably now more popular than ever, with millions of copies of the game finding their way on to mobile phones in recent years.
This popularity is mainly due to an innate simplicity coupled with insane addictiveness. There’s also the perfect learning curve that keeps you playing because you’re sure you can do better this time than last time. The simple nature of the game means there have been versions of Tetris developed over the years, some officially licensed, others clearly not licensed at all.
There are hundreds of versions of Tetris free to play on the Web. Most are not worth bothering with, being poor imitations of the original, but others offer an alternate take on the game, adding a new perspective or slight twist on the basic gameplay. What follows are multiple awesome versions of Tetris clones you should play online unless you have a strong dislike for the game.
We start with the original, and arguably the best, version of Tetris. This take on the game will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever played Tetris even for just a few minutes. There are seven Tetriminos — essentially two-dimensional dominoes featuring four squares apiece — and your task is to pile them on top of one another without leaving any spaces.
This is the online version of the official game, located at freetetris.org and redirected from tetris.com. The controls are easy to master, with the arrow keys moving and twisting the blocks as you desire, the space-bar dropping the block to the bottom of the screen. The game, however, is far from easy, especially when the speed increases on the higher levels.
First-Person Tetris is a unique take on the game, and a Tetris clone which is fascinating and frustrating in equal measure. All this version does is move your perspective along with the block currently selected. So if you rotate the block clockwise the camera also rotates clockwise. You wouldn’t think this makes much difference to the difficulty level, but play for 10 minutes or so and you’ll discover it does.
Apart from the perspective change designed to confuse you, the basic gameplay remains the same. There are still seven distinct Tetriminos, each of which needs to be laid on top of the others to build a solid block free of gaps. This version receives extra geek points by featuring an old Nintendo Entertainment System console and 1980s television.
Mario Tetris is a strange crossbreed of Super Mario Bros. and Tetris. It isn’t Super Mario Bros., obviously, instead it’s Tuper Tario Tros. See what they did there?! The game starts out as a Mario clone, with you controlling the annoying little plumber and he wends his way merrily across the screen. But wait, that wall is too high for Mario to transcend. What to do, what to do?
This is where the Tetris element comes in. You press the space-bar to switch from Mario to Tetris and build a set of steps for the titular character to ascend. You get to choose when to play the platformer and when to play the puzzle game, though there are parts when the Tetriminos are a necessity. The controls are intuitive, and it’s a joy to play two classic games melded into one.
3D Tetris (or 3Dtris) is not exactly enjoyable to play, but it is worth having a go at if you feel like giving your brain a workout. I’ll be honest and admit I didn’t get far with this one. Adding the third dimension messes with your mind in ways you won’t understand until you play this game for yourself.
The controls are fairly simple, with letters on the keyboard assigned to each twist and turn needed to orient and position the block in the desired manner. But once they start building up layers the whole thing spirals out of control very quickly. If you manage to get past Level 1 then you should be classified as a genius.
Tetris Games 4 All
Tetris Games 4 All is, as the name strongly suggests, home to more than just one version of Tetris. In fact there are in excess of 60 at the time of writing. The quality of the Tetris clones on this website range considerably, with some liable to get you hooked for hours, others only worth the briefest of mentions.
There are some good mash-ups between Tetris and other games, including Incadia (Tetris and Bejeweled) and Sudoku Tetris, some mind-twisting alternate takes on the original, including T360 and Tetris Cuboid 3D, and some fun but frivolous novelty versions, including Building Tetris and Pootris. With so many clones in one place you should find one that suits your particular tastes.
While we may be pointing you mostly towards alternative versions of Tetris available to play for free online, that doesn’t mean we don’t think Alexey Pajitnov doesn’t deserve credit. Pajitnov designed and programmed Tetris, and has done rather well from his ingenious little puzzle game. Still, with so many versions of Tetris available to play on the Web it’s hard to justify actually buying a copy of the game these days.
Do you have a favorite of the versions of Tetris mentioned above? Is the original still the best? And will it ever be bettered? Is there another you have discovered and find yourself playing regularly? As always we’re keen to hear from you, so please feel free to post a response to this article in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Gina Pina