Tetris is undeniably one of the best retro games ever made. It’s simple and easy to play, it’s accessible on virtually every device and game console in existence, it’s extremely addicting, and it’s entirely skill-based, which makes competitive gameplay extremely fun, plus watching the best Tetris players can be quite satisfying. It’s been on almost every console since it’s creation, including the GameBoy.
But here’s the thing, Tetris was originally released way back in 1984, and games have come a long way since then. How do Tetris games stack up to them in 2023?
Well, after being addicted to Tetris for a few months now, I think I can safely judge and review several Tetris games and recommend a few to you! Let’s start!
Do you know that Tetris is so addicting that a psychological phenomenon is named after it? The Tetris Effect is a phenomenon where a person might’ve devoted enough time and attention to an activity to the point that mental images of it start to pop up in their thoughts and dreams. I also experience the effect after playing enough chess and when trying to speed up my Rubik’s Cube-solving times, but I think Tetris is really the best example of this.
If you never experienced that before, there’s no better way for you to get Tetris Effect other than playing Tetris Effect, the latest and arguably the best modern Tetris game to play in 2023! Let me tell you this right now, if I’m going to play one version of Tetris for the rest of my life, it’s going to be this!
I think Tetris Effect brings out the best in Tetris. Playing it is just a meditative experience, and I get in the zone extremely quickly in this game, why? First, the graphics are just amazing. It breathes a whole new life to the good old Tetris we all know; the tetrominoes in this game have a lot of color sets, the background animations are straight-up hypnotic, and the animation when you hard drop a piece is just satisfying.
It’s not all cosmetic changes, though, as Tetris Effect also has hypnotic and “in-zone” music and sound effects that go well with the graphics. I personally love the sounds when you hard-drop a piece, especially if it drops in sync with the music’s beat.
Overall though, both graphics and music just make this a whole new Tetris, a Tetris game that you can feel in a lot of different ways. Trust me, once you play it, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
Tetris Effect also differs from most Tetris games in the way that it’s actually kinda relaxing. I know it may vary for every person, but usually, in a classic NES Tetris game (and in most Tetris games), I play some music to lighten the mood; otherwise, I’d be too focused and overthink my piece placements and eventually mess up and lose.
Tetris Effect is also a completely different game than classic Tetris due to one new thing; the Zone mechanic, which is a small meter near the playing board, and when it fills up, you can activate it, and time will stop! What do we do with this? In the classic game, the highest clear you can achieve is the Tetris clearing 4 lines. Thanks to the Zone mechanic, clears higher than Tetris are possible. Here are the clear names together with their line clear amount:
- Tetris: 4-7
- Octoris: 8-11
- Dodecatris: 12-15
- Decahexatris: 16-17
- Perfectris: 18-19
- Ultimatris: 20
- Kirbtris: 21
- Impossibilitris: 22
- Infinitris: 23
- Electris: 24
- WTFtris: 25+
Of course, you can also play different versions of Tetris in this game. That’s why if I had to pick only one game to play, Tetris Effect will be that game. Here are the different modes:
- Marathon: Standard mode where you clear at least 150 lines to complete a level.
- Zone Marathon: Basically the same as Marathon but with the Zone mechanic.
- Ultra: A 3-minute score attack mode.
- Sprint: Clear 40 lines as fast as possible.
- Master: Instant piece drops with decreasing lock delay and line clear delays.
- Classic Score Attack: Essentially a Classic NES Tetris port
There are also multiplayer modes like Connected, Connected VS, Zone Battle, Classic Score Attack, and Score Attack!
Of course, there are more fun play modes, but I’d leave that out for you to discover!
As a last item to say, Tetris Effect also gives out a great VR mode to get you zoned out even more quickly. I had a chance to try it and immediately got lost in the experience!
Overall, Tetris Effect is by far the most innovative and most fun to play Tetris! And again, if I gotta pick one game, this is the one!
Tetris 99 is another innovative Tetris game; it took the modern Tetris recipe and mashed it with a 99-player game where one player will remain at the end. Wait…does that sound familiar? Well, it’s a Battle Royale!
Before everything else, unlike Tetris Effect, Tetris 99 is free to play…if you’re a Nintendo Switch Online subscriber, and you also have to pay the price if you want to play the whole game, complete with different modes!
But hey, if you’re a Switch Online subscriber anyway, try it out. It’s still completely enjoyable! The best part? It’s completely skill based (with a teeny tiny bit of luck, of course, it’s easier to win with a lobby full of beginners), so you can still compete fairly, and you’ll have as much fun as everyone else. Take it from me, I only won four times out of thousands of games, and it was still fun!
Why is it still fun when you might lose 90% of your games? The sheer adrenaline of it all might be the biggest factor in why it’s so fun, but for me, the targeting system is where the fun is at!
In this game, you defeat other players by clearing lines and sending them garbage, and once their board tops out, they’re out. The targeting system consists of several modes:
- Random: Targets any player
- Attackers: Targets whoever targets you. If there are multiple attackers, you’ll also have multiple targets.
- Badges: Targets whoever has the most knockouts/badges.
- K.Os: Targets those who are closest to topping out.
- Select: Tap the board you want to attack.
The game also gets challenging if you pass the top 50 and even more challenging when you reach the last top 10, in which the pieces fall almost instantly.
But once you win your first game? It’s extremely rewarding! Not only that, you’ll also be able to unlock Tetris 99 Invictus, where it’s the same Tetris 99 game but with higher gravity and is exclusive to players who also won 1st place in a Tetris 99 match before!
There’s also a Team Battle mode where up to four teams can fight for the first spot! The team with the last player wins; still the usual Battle Royale rules!
Each team can have up to 25 players, with a total of 99 players! While you can play with random strangers on the internet, you can also play with your friends by using a password-only lobby!
If you get good enough on Tetris 99 you might be able to get some prizes from the Maximus Cup, which is a recurring event that rewards the top 999 players with the most 1st place wins. So far, you might get 999 My Nintendo Gold points or unique themes for the game!
And here’s the surprise, I was only just talking about the free part of the game! The paid Big Block DLC comes with these game modes:
- CPU Battle: A battle against 98 bots, and of course, the difficulty can be adjusted!
- Marathon: More of a classic mode but you only have to clear 150 or 999 lines. Trust me, if you beat the 999 line mode, you’d feel like a crazy person and see Tetriminoes everywhere.
- Local Arena: Local multiplayer mode, you can play with up to eight consoles
- 2P Share Battle: Exactly like CPU battle but 2 players can play against 97 bots.
I think the DLC is worth getting! It certainly helps you train yourself so you can get 1st place wins more!
Classic NES Tetris
I know, I know, it’s hard to play a game from 1989 for the NES console in 2023! But I’ve played it since I got a copy for $5 and played it using an NES I got for $15. Not bad for a pretty authentic setup, right? Although I have no space for a CRT yet, so I’m still mostly playing the game on my laptop through an emulator. This way, I can get a fix quickly! And yes, this is what I’m addicted to, and this is my favorite version of Tetris. Why?
First of all, I love how simple the whole game is, it has virtually no loading times, and if you do play on an NES and CRT TV setup, the very low latency is pretty sweet, especially on higher speeds!
Second, I love how it makes other people feel nostalgic, specifically my relatives! I wasn’t nostalgic about it since I grew up on the Gameboy version of Tetris with that sweet original Tetris theme, which sadly wasn’t in the NES version, but I digress!
Third, I love the difficulty in this version! It’s stripped down to the bare bones, with no hold function and no hard drops! It’s much more difficult, but with those gone, you just need to be good with your piece placement and deal with the slow Delayed Auto Shift!
Lastly, the main reason why I love NES Tetris is because of the competitive scene! No, I’m not competing, but I sure do love playing what the pros play! Plus, when I’m not playing Tetris, I’m most likely watching the Classic Tetris World Championships! It might be a goofy reason, but it’s through watching the competitions that got me into NES Tetris in the first place! If you have some free time, try to watch it. Trust me; it’s very satisfying and mind-boggling to watch.
Yes, this article is about the best Tetris games in 2023, and yes, despite the extra steps you have to take to get a proper NES setup going on, NES Tetris is still one of the best versions you can play! Who knows, by playing it, you might discover your destiny to be the next CTWC champion!
Puyo Puyo Tetris
Last but certainly not least is Puyo Puyo Tetris, yes, a combination of two legendary puzzle games! So for those who are unfamiliar, Puyo Puyo Tetris is not one game, it is Puyo Puyo and Tetris.
So, I bet we all know what Tetris is, but what is Puyo Puyo?
Puyo Puyo is a puzzle game franchise that’s currently owned by Sega. The first game debuted in 1991 and, like Tetris, enjoyed success across multiple console platforms.
Here’s the thing, Puyo Puyo and Tetris are kinda similar in the sense that both are puzzle games with falling pieces. While Tetris is a line-making shape-matching puzzle game, Puyo Puyo is a color-matching game where Puyos clear when matched with 4 or more other Puyos with the same color.
Unlike Tetris, but like Dr. Mario, Puyo Puyo promotes creating strategic chain reactions, which leads to higher scores!
In Puyo Puyo Tetris, you can play either Puyo Puyo or Tetris (obviously), but do you know that you can play both? Yes, it’s a crazy idea about you can play both games resulting in a whole new brain teaser of a puzzle game where you match shapes to create lines, and suddenly you need to match colors the next minute.
If it doesn’t sound exciting to you, just look at this high-level match!
If you also noticed, Puyo Puyo Tetris also has great and cute graphics all over it! Other than that, there’s even a fun little story about how the worlds of Puyo Puyo and Tetris are merging!
Overall, the whole game is pretty fun, and if you love both franchises and you only have to choose one game to get, then this one is it! It even has a sequel if you get bored with the first game!
Those are the best Tetris games to play in 2023! Thank you for reading until the end, but before we go, do you agree with this list? Are there any Tetris games you love that aren’t mentioned here? Tetris Battle or just plain ol’ Tetris on the official website, perhaps? Leave a comment down below!