I can’t remember the last time I wrote an entire MakeUseOf post about a single game. But here I am, dedicating this whole post to tell you about just one game, because it’s that good: Quantro [No Longer Available] for Android. You won’t find mention of it on the Quantro page, but it’s a Tetris clone. It’s not just a dumb clone, though – it’s even better than the original.
They can’t tell you it’s Tetris, supposedly because of copyright issues with the name or some such commercial restrictions, so here I am to lay down the truth. When Quantro developer Peace Ray says that the game features “classic falling tetromino,” that really means Tetris. This is far from the first attempt to offer a good Tetris alternative experience on Android, but if you look at Matt’s post from 2011 listing 4 great Tetris-like games for Android, you’ll see just how far things have come since.
And by the way, if you’re looking for excellent Tetris alternatives but want to play them online rather than on your Android phone, check out our recent post featuring the best online Tetris clones.
Available Game Modes
Quantro comes with several game modes, including multiplayer (over Wi-Fi or the Internet), and single-player. I’ll only be covering the single-player features in this review, of which there are plenty. You can pick one of four types of single-player games, or create your own custom type (which we’ll get to later):
The two main game types are Quantro and Retro. Quantro is the game’s own modern take on Tetris, and includes some really crazy features. Retro is just plain old Tetris, but with a beautiful new look. Each type can be played either in Endurance mode (which is just bricks falling out of the sky), or Progression mode, in which you also have to contend with rows of bricks rising out of the ground, making your life increasingly more difficult as the game progresses.
This mode is what makes the game “better than Tetris,” at least in my opinion. At its simplest, it looks like this:
What you’re seeing here is two layers, not just a static background. The red layer is in the front, and the blue one’s in the background. Right now I’ve got a red brick incoming, so you can see its shaded outline on the red layer – meaning, it goes right in front of the blue layer. As it lands, it melds with the existing bricks to create one uniform block:
This is not only a cool effect, but it actually makes it easier to see the overall shape of your brick pile. So that’s the most basic form of Quantro, but the game can get really crazy from there. If you’re looking for a challenge, tapping the top-right corner will bring out a special brick, such as this one:
When you get a special brick for the first time it comes with an explanation: For example, this 3D Square spans both layers. Another special brick, called Flash, can be moved between layers, so you get to decide whether you want it on the blue or red layer:
Even if you don’t trigger the special bricks, Quantro will sometimes challenge you by dropping two bricks at once, one for each layer:
Here you can see a red “dot” riding along with a blue line. If you look at their outlines, you will see that the red dot is going to keep dropping even after the blue line hits the blue square. This opens up some very interesting options, but also means you have to think about both layers at the same time.
When you complete a level you can opt to continue to the next one, or go back and try again for a higher score (or a less cluttered board):
If all of these special bricks and dual-layer gameplay seems too crazy, you can also play Quantro in Retro mode, which is basically like Tetris but much better looking:
So, just a single layer here, and no special bricks, but there are some visual niceties. If two bricks of the same color touch, they will meld into one piece, just like on the Quantro style. This can create all sorts of interesting shapes:
It doesn’t affect gameplay – you still just need to create full rows to eliminate bricks – but it looks nice.
Custom Games & How To Crash Quantro
Quantro doesn’t limit you to the two game types it ships with: You can create your own custom games, specifying what control types you want, what sorts of bricks you should get, and how many rows and columns you want on your board. For the most part, this works okay – but not always.
There is one persistent and simple way to crash Quantro, at least on my Galaxy S III: Creating a custom game with the maximum possible number of rows and columns. It looks like this:
And yields, without fail, this:
Creating a game with more conservative settings does work.
Quantro not only introduces a wealth of new shapes and special pieces, but also some unique controls: For instance, you can rotate pieces by 180 degrees. This is why its documentation is so important, and it does deliver:
The in-game documentation is clear and well-written, and there are animations showing the different moves. You can’t see this in the static screenshot above, but the illustration I’ve shown here actually moves, showing the red piece rotating 180 degrees.
The Verdict: An Amazingly Satisfying Game
If you’re looking for a great Tetris game on Android, Quantro is virtually impossible to find because it just doesn’t feature those all-important keywords. But once you stumble on it and give it a try, I think you won’t look for another Tetris experience so fast. Once the developer fixes that annoying crash bug, Quantro would be just about perfect. Highly recommended.
And if you want some more excellent Android games, you can always check out our list of the Best Android Games!