Tetris is a game that needs no introduction, but we're going to stick with tradition and give you one anyway by asking you to cast your mind back to 1986. It was before many of you fine folk were even born, and even some of those among us who are going grey (and bald) will probably be too young to have enjoyed it at launch and would rather have gummed a Game Boy than played it. Alexey Pajitnov designed the game in 1984 but it wasn't until it was boxed in with Nintendo's iconic handheld that Tetris would go on to make its undeniable mark on history.
Let's get it out of the way now: Tetris is the greatest puzzle game ever made. You can argue the case for another game if you want, but you're wrong. Sorry about that. Whether you played the original on Game Boy, any one of the millions of LCD ripoffs that sprouted in the years that followed, or even if you came to the party later when more modern versions appeared on consoles and handheld devices - if you've come across Tetris before you'll know what it's all about, and you'll probably appreciate the simple yet brilliant gameplay loop that has kept millions and millions of players glued to their screens for billions and billions of hours.
We've played a lot of different versions of Tetris over the years, from the Game Boy original to equally traditional interpretations, through to more novel recent additions like Puyo Puyo Tetris, but of all the variations and versions that we've played of this most iconic of puzzle games, Tetris Effect is by far and away our favourite. We're going to spend the next few lines explaining why.
The basic core of this new experience is pure Tetris. Rather than twisting the formula and making sweeping gameplay changes, this is dropping tetrominoes plain and simple. You can pause the action mid-game for a short period every now and then to more purposefully place your blocks, but otherwise, from a mechanical perspective, it's a very straightforward adaptation of the original formula. If you've played before it'll take you no time at all to find your feet, start moving blocks around, matching them and clearing lines. Like riding a bike, there are some things you never forget.
The game's main Journey mode is a series of interconnected levels, a line of four individually-themed experiences that are chained together to form longer chapters. They make up a solo campaign that players will be able to tackle as many times as they want, with an overall points tally for your general progress, as well as ratings for individual chapters - there's always a high score to chase down and leaderboards are on hand if you need further incentive to dive back in.
So far, so Tetris, but what makes Effect so special is the audio-visual experience that accompanies each new setting. Each one has its own music, with the soundtrack reacting contextually to your actions, and so while you're essentially just playing Tetris much as you always have done, there's a sumptuous and alluring new layer in the form of a brilliant and reactive soundtrack that feeds into your every action, giving new substance to well-worn mechanics that many of you will have committed to muscle memory.
Some of the music is beautiful, and the use of haunting vocals accompanies some pulsating electronic beats that draw you in and hold you firm for hours at a time. These toe-tapping tunes are accentuated by some wonderful visuals that add genuine richness to each of the settings. Effect takes us down into the depths of the ocean, high up above the clouds, and it even explores different cultures via the various background animations and audio effects. Every new area utilises fresh background visuals, differently styled tetrominoes, and each one comes with new music pumping through its veins. It's a constant light show and, while at times some of the effects can be just a touch distracting, even played on the big screen Tetris Effect offers nothing short of a feast for the senses.