By now even the most casual of gamers must be familiar with Tetris. This was the puzzler that launched the original Game Boy, and today it's arguably still the most iconic entry in its genre. Every handheld needs a version of Tetris, and with hindsight it's surprising that it's taken this long for the game to reach the PSP.
Never mind, because we have it now - and it's a damn good version, too. As part of the initial wave of Sony's new downloadable PSP Minis, it would have been easy to churn out a lazy by-the-numbers port of the old block-swivelling classic. Instead, EA has given us what pretty much amounts to a definitive version of the game. The original, maddeningly-addictive gameplay remains intact, but there's also a generous selection of alternative modes and variations, along with several features that you really wouldn't expect to find in a release like this.
The "pure" Tetris experience is as simple and absorbing as ever. Blocky shapes descend from the sky, the player rotates them and attempts to slot them together to make solid grids. When you fill out a complete line it disappears and wins you points, but if you can manage to finish multiple lines at once you'll also get a fat bonus. It's always been hugely gratifying to slide one long block down the side of a stack to clock four lines at once (an achievement known as a "Tetris"), but here the practice is extended further, rewarding you with extra points for chaining multiple Tetrises in a row.
In addition to the vanilla variant there are 11 other modes to try, each adding some form of game-changing mechanics: one forces unsupported cubes to obey the law of gravity, allowing for chain reactions; others makes your stack scroll to the right every couple of seconds, or require you to keep your stack below a horizontal laser. Some of these quirks work better than others, but as a general rule they're all interesting enough to warrant a go when you fancy a change from the core game.
Several of these modes have to be unlocked by meeting specific targets, and there's a whole set of challenges that further help to boost the replay value. The left side of the title screen is taken up with a large meter that gauges your progress through these tasks, so obsessive completists will have plenty to worry about. On top of this there's a wealth of scoreboards and stat trackers, plus a Pro Trainer mode - a set of videos that show world-class players acing the various modes in record time. When you see how fast these guys work, you'll understand just how skill-less you really are.
There really aren't many criticisms I can make of this bumper package. The house club remix of the Tetris anthem is a bit weak, but you'll probably hum it anyway. The only notable absence here is a multiplayer mode, but then Tetris always worked better as a lonely, consuming experience. At £3.99 this is one of the more expensive releases in the Minis range, but considering what you actually get, this still represents excellent value for money.
VideoGamer.com Score9 Score out of 10
- Loads of extras
- It's Tetris
- As addictive as ever
- The remixed Tetris theme isn't too hot