When people think of puzzle games on console, one title always comes to mind: Tetris. It’s a classic staple in the genre and it has managed to stay relevant since its debut on the Nintendo Entertainment System back in 1984. Now, 35 years later, the game is still going strong and its latest offering brings back the addicting fun we all know and love.

Title: Tetris 99
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Online Required)
Developer: Arika
Publisher: NIntendo
Release Date: February 19, 2019
Price: Free

Let’s admit it. Everyone fell in love with Tetris all over again with the release of Tetris Effect on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR late last year. It was the latest evolution of Tetris that brought to us the new Zone ability which, in turn, allowed us to get the ever-elusive Ultimatris… a 20-line clear. Many didn’t expect to see Tetris back so soon… especially as a battle royale game!

While there is no zone ability or Ultimatris to be had in Tetris 99, what we are given is simple, yet addicting fun! In short, Tetris 99 is modern Tetris in an online battle royale where you go up against 98 other players at the same time. You simply keep playing until there is only 1 left standing.

Tetris 99 Review for Nintendo Switch

It’s you vs the world!

Honestly, that’s all there is to Tetris 99. Like I said, it’s purely simple and highly addicting. Nintendo, once again, proves that you can have a deep and engaging gaming experience with just the bare minimum. Despite being a barebones Tetris game, there are some new things that they added to help you take down the competition: The ability to attack other players.

It’s not a new concept as we’ve seen this mechanic before. Usually, if you’re playing head-to-head against someone in Tetris, you can (depending on the game) send junk over to your opponent’s side of the board whenever you’re doing well on your side and vice versa. Well, when you have 98 other opponents, you need to refine that system in order to take them all on at once.

Tetris 99 has four attack modes that you can switch on the fly with a simple flick of the right analog stick: Random, Attackers, Badges, KO’s.

Random is just that… you attack other players at random.

Attackers means that if you’re being attacked by someone, you can flip to this mode and attack them back, giving them a bit of a punishment for trying to target you.

Badges simply attack players that have the highest amount of badges. You earn badges as you play the game by performing special requirements such as combo chains, T Spins, and more. The more badges you have, the more junk you will send to an opponent. By the end of the match, you should have enough badges to KO your opponents quickly but they will as well so be careful!

Lastly, KO’s allows you to attack people who are in danger of getting a game over. A nice little trick is to wait until you’re ready to hit a Tetris then switch to KO mode when you see someone in peril and finish them off that way. It’s sneaky but it can be done.

Tetris 99 Review for Nintendo Switch

A simple flick of the right thumbstick will select which attack mode you want to use

Of course, none of the attacks are instant. You are given a chance to defend against them. To the left of the playfield is a meter which will show you how much junk will be sent your way. You’ll have about 3 piece drops worth of time to clear lines on your side to “attack” that junk. Failure to do so will cause all of that junk to fill up your board, landing you in a pretty tight spot.

Things such as holding pieces, and not having immediate placement when a piece contacts the surface are here like you would expect from modern Tetris. Outside of this, that’s all there is to this game.

It is a short review because the game is so simple and while it is fun what it is lacking are game modes. There was a datamine that was put out onto the internet not that long before this review that suggested that a team battle mode and a vs CPU mode for solo or team play are in the works but Nintendo hasn’t really confirmed any of that.

I feel the lack of modes does hurt the overall replayability of this title but the fact that it’s an online battle royal version of Tetris is enough to keep me coming back for more. Even though I have made it to the mountain top once and claimed first place, it was only once and I want to get back there a second time! Sometimes a little luck is needed because you can get knocked out very early if you are targeted by multiple players at the same time.

Tetris 99 Review for Nintendo Switch

My first victory in Tetris 99

If you have enough time and free space to work with, you can actually manually target other players with the left analog stick so you can plan your strategies that way as well. While I feel that allowing a maximum amount of targets at a given time would even out the fairness of the game a bit, it’s not too often that you run into that scenario… at least, I only encountered it less than a handful of times and I’ve played over 100 matches of this so far.

All in all, Tetris 99 is worth your time IF you have a Nintendo Switch Online account. This game cannot be played without a subscription but at $20 per YEAR, it’s a hell of a deal, especially since the game itself is free to subscribers.

No matter what form it comes in, Tetris will never stop being fun!

Tetris 99

Summary

Tetris 99 is highly addictive, simple, and fun. It brings that modern Tetris competition to the online stage in a big way but the lack of game modes and new features really hurt this from being more than just a good game.

Pros

  • It’s Tetris, what more needs to be said?
  • Ability to control your attacks
  • On-the-fly strategy
  • Highly addicting

Cons

  • Lack of game modes
  • Lack of new features to refresh the tried and true formula
  • Tetris 99
Overall
3

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.