Genre: Puzzle Developer: Sega of Japan Publisher: Sega of Japan Players: 1-2 Released: 1989
Tetris is like the grandfather of puzzle games. It has been on every platform, from NES, to Windows, to Xbox, to Game Boy, to Amiga, and everything in between. Probably 95% of systems have some form of Tetris on it. But one system that was left out was the Genesis. But wait, how am I writing this review then? Well, read on readers!
Back in the ’80s, there was a lot of legal trouble amongst Tetris. It was licensed out to many different companies at the same time. When Tetris first came out, it was found out by a British software company called Andromeda, who wanted to secure the rights for PC from Alexy Pajitnov, the game’s creator. But what happened was Andromeda sold out the rights to Spectrum Holobyte before they could be secured by them, so they tried to secure the rights from some Hungarian programmers instead. Spectrum then released a port of Tetris on the IBM. And what ended up happening was that after the Amiga port came out, six different companies claimed the rights to Tetris (who were all licensed out by Andromeda or Spectrum Holobyte), one of them being Mirrorsoft, the company that made the Amiga port.
Since Pajitnov sold his rights to the Soviet Union, who licensed out the game through a company called Elorg, the Soviet Union claimed that none of these companies had the rights to Tetris, and sold the console rights to Nintendo, and the arcade rights to Atari. So Tengen, the console part of Atari, decides to get the console rights disregarding Nintendo, and makes the Tengen port of Tetris for the NES. Nintendo sues, and ends up winning, claiming all console rights, basically wiping out everyone else’s false rights. And that’s pretty much the legal history of Tetris.
But how does this get Tetris on the Genesis? Well, Mirrorsoft decided to sell the rights to Tetris to Sega, and Sega made a console version of its own. Well, the legal rights were decided just before the game came out, and Sega had to end up destroying its copies of the game. But supposedly six or so copies got out, and today they are extremely rare games, going for prices as much as $16,000 dollars! But fear not, the cartridge was pirated, and you can probably find that version for your Genesis for about $100, that is if you want to pay that much for Tetris. Now onto the review!
The game is Tetris, you simply place blocks down to make lines. It’s pretty much the same old addicting puzzle game that you played on your Game Boy and NES. Now there are a couple of different features in the Genesis version. For one, you can have item blocks (designated as flashing blocks) that can wipe out multiple lines if used to complete a line on landing. The game also seems to give you points by simply landing the blocks in certain positions. The better you place your blocks, the more points you will get. There’s also a time trial mode where the game of course, times you. And there’s also a two-player mode, which is a plus The only thing that bugs me about the gameplay in this game is that you can’t rotate a piece right when it hits the board, it has to drop a line first. It makes the game feel a lot slower and doesn’t make the game play as good as it’s counterparts on different systems. This one flaw really just ruins the game for me, as I’m a fast paced player.
The graphics in this game are odd. Backgrounds just look out of place to say the least, and mountains just don’t look right while playing Tetris. The blocks have this weird metallic look to them, and they seem very bland. The graphics all seem bland, like the NES version. Tengen Tetris definitely has the best graphics out of the console ports for the time.
The sound sucks, to put it bluntly. The one tune during the gameplay is this weird robotic-sounding music. No catchy Russian Tetris music, just bad robotic music. And the sound effect for the blocks dropping is very dull and almost inaudible, it sounds like someone dropping a cardboard box on a wooden floor.
In short, like I said before, just because a game is expensive, does not mean it is good. This game is Tetris, but it doesn’t feel like Tetris, sound like Tetris, look like Tetris, and even play like Tetris most of the time. Unless you take your Tetris games slow, I would definitely stay away from this version, and get one of the many good ports games on different consoles, especially Tengen Tetris, if you are looking for something classic and good. This version is just a big letdown after the Tengen one.