Tetris 99, Tetris Effect, and How Context Changes Everything


In the span of three months, we got Tetris Effect and Tetris 99. The former is a euphoric synesthesia trip, while the latter is the most savage puzzle game ever conceived. At the core, they’re the exact same game.

Taking the core formula and dressing it up with flashy visuals and hypnotic soundtrack, the actual act of playing Tetris Effect well takes a back seat to a sensory experience that should be absorbed at your own pace. At its highest speeds, it run counter to the cheerful vibe of the game, but it’s really more about being absorbed in the moment that the combination of sights, sounds, and stacking create.

Conversely, Tetris 99 goes the complete opposite direction. Leverage standard Tetris visuals and music, it ups the ante by throwing 99 players in one lobby to battle for their lives. All of a sudden, the almost tranquil game I was playing a few months ago has turned into a blood-pumping battle royale that has caused me to throw my controller on stream at least once.

The duality of Tetris shines brightly when you put Tetris 99 and Tetris Effect side-by-side. What’s fascinating is that in spite of how different they make you feel while playing them, they’re essentially the same game at the core. They’re also both fantastic in their own right. It’s really cool that the context in which the same game is presented can transform a game into something very different.


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