Ah!... another childhood memory rekindled, this time from the days of going to Canterbury in England on the rare occasion with my parents, and popping up to the city's big department store at the time which had its own kids toys area. It was 1989 or 1990, and as you entered, you could hear the enchanting tunes from the recently released Gameboy blockbuster Tetris. Trying to wrestle the other kids off from the display machine was hard work, but well worth the effort as I got chance to play one of the most influential games of our time.
Tetris requires no introduction, pretty much everyone and their dog has played it at somepoint in their life and as a result we have been flooded with many thosands of clones and conversions. The VIC 20 has also seen a few conversions in recent times, and Tetris+ is the most recent incarnation, derived from a first version by developer Nippur72 which then was originally born as Tetris Deluxe back in 2006. This is a radically enhanced version with notable tweaks in the game's playing modes.
The game comes with three modes of play which includes: "Arcade" where you must clear a certain amount of lines to clear a round, "Trial" where players can practice a particular arcade round and "Classic", the standard Gameboy mode where you simply get as many lines as possible and the game gradually increases in speed.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Some users who are unfamiliar with the VIC 20 and its rather stretched resolution, may feel at first a little uncomfortable, but after acclimatising you are set for a rather solid conversion of the popular puzzle. Moving pieces around is smooth and responsive as with the Gameboy original, ensuring that the game is as fun to play - the C64 conversion by Mirrorsoft was rather cumbersome in this respect. The two key modes of the game additionally add a good level of variety to the game to keep up the interest and longevity of the title, and to ensure that what you don't get is a plain old Tetris clone like many others.
Graphically the game is colourful, clean and functional - No glitz or dazzle, but everything feels like Tetris and there are nice little touches in the font such as back to front letters to fit in with the Russian themed game - additionally, when you clear a line on the screen there is a nice little shudder effect. Presentation is good clear and crisp, with a high score table and options for you to customise sound and the game mode. It's certainly lacking on features compared to the main releases, but its not 'arf bad for a game only requesting an extra 3K of memory on the VIC.
Sonically the game plays a good solid rendition of the Russian tune covered by the Gameboy, with a slightly meatier version that plays in the game along with some typically VIC-styled crunchy sound effects as you slot pieces into place - Anders Carlsson doing a sterling job as usual with his VIC compositions. The tunes also increase in speed on the Classic level, which further adds to the atmosphere of the game and helps to get the heart racing a little as you progress.
It would always be very hard to try and topple the original Gameboy conversion (or even the later Gameboy Color edition), but Tetris+ doesn't aim to do this; quite simply, it aims to provide a good solid tribute to the excellent 1989 release as well as stand on its own, and succeeds in producing a very fun title for the VIC. If you like many millions out there enjoy a game of Tetris, then this is a good pull back to the VIC 20 to see just how much life is still in the old girl. One of the best out of a rather large bunch of clones!