• Graphics
  • Sound
  • Playability
  • Lastability
PublisherMSXdev’04 Competition
ReviewMark and Paul

Main review

Tetris has been around for ages in all types of configurations and here is an 8Kb MSX version of the original game with a few “improvements”. If you havent heard of Tetris then you must have been wearing a concrete block on your head, or been down the mines for the past twenty or so years and for you, and you alone, I’d better give a brief explanation of the game.

The game originated in Russia around twenty years ago, has existed on nearly every platform available and was the championing game, and arguably the “killer app” of Nintendo’s original monochrome GameBoy. The game involves arranging shapes that fall from the top of the play area. Each shape is made from a combination of four small squares, and there are eight shape combinations in total, with the aim being to fit each piece together so that single lines across the play area are totally filled. When you fill a line it disappears and the rest of the lines above fall down, if you run out of space for more shapes to fall the game ends.

Tetris has graced the MSX before in several different guises and indeed in an official Mirrorsoft release way back in 1987, so what can this new version possibly offer this oft-cloned game? Well to be honest I’m not sure, as there are no instructions per se, and two unexplained “features”. The title screen is a simply functional affair prompting you to press space to play. That’s as far as the instructions go in the game, but its Tetris so the expected cursors to move and space to rotate are used here. What I’m not sure of is the way the game speed changes and this leads to some frustration as a player; in the original Tetris the speed that the shapes fell increased as the game went on and the level increased, but in this version there are three speed levels and they just appear to cycle. This seems to defeat the concept of Tetris to me slightly, because the fact that the speed kept increasing in the original was part of the challenge. Here you increase through the three speed levels then its back to speed one again. Apart from this, it’s basically the same as the original gameplay wise.

Everything is presented pretty well in the game. The graphics have been pixelled as nicely as you can pixel Tetris graphics, and the scrolling background provides an added element of visual frustration. Conversely I find the music to be quite a chore and to play the game at length I needed to turn the sound down. Controls wise everything is very smooth and responsive and there are no gripes at all. It’s a pretty good version of Tetris once you get past the mysterious gameplay additions, and all in all it’s pretty playable – however there really is nothing to shout from the rooftops here, and it amazes me that ppl are still making Tetris conversions and clones. It’s not original and, although not having coded a Tetris clone, I would imagine it’s pretty much a case of going through the motions so not much of a challenge. If you fancy a game of Tetris on the MSX this will do, but only with the volume down.

Second opinion

Kralizec Tetris is, in a nutshell, a Tetris game but don’t that let put you off – for 8K in size this is a pretty nice looking game. The principles are the same as all the Tetris‘s in that blocks appear, you rotate, slot into position (which I have a niggle about, I’ll explain in a minute) and you stop the pile from from reaching the top. Destroy enough lines, watch your score and the speed increase – which has always been where I fall down playing Tetris, it speeds up, I panic and lose!

Graphically, this is very pretty although there were a few times when the choice of colours and the speed the background checks were scrolling were not that appealing. They were actually making my eyes go funny, and making it difficult to concentrate on the block in hand, the next blocks and their locations. Theres is a clear indication of the next block (provided the scrolly checks don’t distract you) and the line you have to avoid, you score, and your speed. But I couldn’t understand why the statistics on the left were included?

Movement, well without reading any instructions (well except “space to start” on the title page) I was moving my blocks and placing them in position straight away but here’s that niggle; on most modern (and I have to stress modern) versions of Tetris they allowed you to make a few final adjustments to your dropped piece if you weren’t happy, but this game doesn’t seem to allow this even though it gives you the pause before the next piece appears. But this is only a minor niggle, and on the original it never happened – but it would have been nice to have that feature.

The sound on this game is acceptable for a little while, but it does get a bit repetitive and I think that an option to turn the sound off would have been nice, or even a increase in tempo when the level or speed changed so at least the tune wouldn’t be the same all the time.

But as a whole, I think the game is well worth a budget release and, if I had the machine it was intended for, and I had a couple of quid in my pocket I would probably purchase this. Tetris is a classic, no home should be without at least one version… And just see for yourself how many versions you have on various other machines and consoles!