100% Tetris

Tetris and handhelds go hand in hand. After all, it was the original portable brick – the Game Boy – that made it a common household name. So it was quite sobering to discover that the PSP didn’t have a version of Tetris to call its own. Initially I thought it was a weird typo I must’ve misread, but no, until last week there was no Tetris for PSP. Luckily, it has a version now. And boy, does it rock!

There’s a little disclaimer to start with: Tetris as a PSP Mini is available as a cheap downloadable game only. It’s also squarely a single-player type of affair. Next to that, it’s based upon the now standardized ‘modern’ Tetris blueprint. Old-school GB-enthusiasts can now start moaning again, as this version contains Ghost (a switch to turn on/off a guide that tells you where a piece will fall), Hold (allowing you to hold a single piece in reserve) and a limited Marathon mode (no endless). Luckily, endless rotation is left out, because even to me that felt a bit like cheating.

But that’s besides the point. This version of Tetris contains a standard Marathon mode as mentioned, but its excellence hides in the variants you can unlock. Origin is a quick 40-line race and Radical does the same at speed level 20, but those are the normal ones. Scanner allows you to play Tetris in a Lumines-fashion, with a single sweep every so often removing all lines instead of clearing them instantly. Flashlight turns the screen black, only showing what’s directly under your current piece. Magnetic shifts dropped pieces to the left or right depending on its polarity. Split just cuts the the screen vertically in half, forcing you to alternate dropping pieces at each side while using both to form lines.

And that’s just a few of them. It’s simply astounding how much fun is packed into this little download. It’s not even gimmicky like the extra modes in Tetris DS; each mode is clearly Tetris, yet with a few twists to truly challenge you within context. The game even has a few achievements in there, which are called ‘feats’. Attaining them all pushes the progress bar at the main menu ever closer to 100%.

A score I reached after a mere five days in which I played about 7 hours of Tetris. Yup, Tetris and handhelds go hand in hand. So maybe it’s a sign of maturity that after so long without, the PSP now finally has access to one of the best versions of the Beautiful Brick Game. Whatever the case, it managed to give my PSP a permanent spot in my backpack.