Tetris 99 is a game only Nintendo could come up with. While each company was releasing its unique take on the battle royale shooter, Nintendo decided to completely change the definition of what could constitute the genre entirely. Tetris 99 is a battle royale like any other in that it pits nearly 100 players against each other to compete for a single first-place prize. As a battle royale game, however, Tetris 99 is unlike anything else in its field. It leaves us with the question: what other crazy experiences could be even more fun if you add 100 people?
Tetris 99 is a bit unlike other games we review, primarily because it’s free to download. Instead of asking the question of whether it is worth your hard-earned money, today we ask whether the game is worth your time. The answer is an unequivocal yes.
What you’ll first notice if you simply hop into a game without reading an FAQ online is that other people are really good at Tetris. The first few times I played, I got slaughtered pretty quickly. It just didn’t make sense to me how the mechanics worked. Unfortunately, the game provides little guidance. On the home screen, there are only three options: “Tetris 99,” “Stats,” and “Options.” There’s no option to read up on how the game works.
As a result, I strongly recommend reading up on an online guide after you play a few matches. There are a ton of mechanics that differentiate Tetris 99 from a regular Tetris battle. The goal here isn’t to clear lines as fast as possible or to just rack up Tetrises. There is far more nuance and strategy than I could expect from a Tetris title.
One of the main features is that the game allows you to choose who you send completed rows to, or allows one of four defaults: Random, Attackers, KO, and Badges. As you learn these mechanics, you’ll have to choose who is best to target to knock out of the match. It becomes even more complex as other players target you as well.
Tetris 99 requires you to juggle offense and defense. Would it be better to send a row and knock out a player to register a kill (which has its own benefits), or would it be better to play defensively and ensure your board stays clear? These moment-to-moment decisions help keep Tetris 99 near-endlessly addicting.
Tetris has left its mark on virtually every platform released, but the Switch version of the game is something special. Tetris‘ base gameplay is already wonderful, but the mechanics here are deep enough to keep you coming back.
It is a shame there isn’t a guide of some sort to help new players, but you can find helpful ones online. Also, because there is no limit to the number of players that can be targeted at once, you may find yourself irritated to discover 12 players attacking you at the beginning of a match. Nevertheless, Tetris 99 is a game absolutely worth enjoying, and at the low price of absolutely nothing, there is little reason not to give it a download.