Tetris took the video game world by storm when it landed on the original Game Boy handheld back in 1989. Sure, it existed before then, but most of us got our start stacking tetrominoes on that chunky gray block with the spinach green screen. Since then we’ve seen some variant of the game released on just about every platform known to man, including mobiles and the browser-based Tetris Battle on Facebook.
Building upon that foundation is Tetris Battle Fusion, but what makes this version any different than the last 20? For starters, there’s no solo mode. Well that’s not entirely true, but with battle being the second word in the title, versus is the name of the game here. You can play alone against the CPU, but know up front that there’s no classic version of Tetris here with Battle Fusion–so prepare to battle someone whenever you want to throw down.
“…depending on how much you enjoy Tetris to begin with, its appeal may run its course rather quick.”
For a game based entirely around versus battles, the lack of online multi-player is extremely disappointing. This isn’t a new concept, as most of the OUYA’s catalog relies on local competition, but Battle Fusion offers up many different ways to customize your play style and it would have been really fun to play against randoms around the world. My couch isn’t always full, and not all of my friends are in to Tetris, after all.
The game is broken down in to two different modes of play: goals and versus. Goals is an entirely single-player experience that pits you against the A.I. to earn medals by (you guessed it!) completing specific sets of objectives. These could range from only using hard drops, to defeating your opponent within a small amount of time. There’s a good variety of objectives to meet, with some of them even forcing me to change my play style through the use of amulets, but depending on how much you enjoy Tetris to begin with, its appeal may run its course rather quick.
Amulets are really what set Tetris Battle Fusion apart from previous incarnations, and can be earned in a couple of different ways. Each player has the ability to equip one amulet, and the game provides over 50 to unlock within the single player mode, or bought at random with jewels. In my time spent with it, I earned ones that allowed me to stop a piece from falling by rotating it, discard up to 20 pieces per round, or even start with blocks along both sides of my map to make it easier to build lines from the get-go. Pro-tip: The Road to Victory amulet is severely overpowered.
Earning every medal within a Goal map awards one Tetris piece, and gaining seven of them awards you a random amulet as a reward. Some of the best and rarest amulets are awarded randomly, rather than through the campaign, so if you’re a completionist you can expect to spend a lot of time flying solo. You can also increase your amulet’s effectiveness by winning matches, earning XP to increase your attack and defense stats. Wait, attack and defense in Tetris? Oddly enough, yes.
Each player has a health pool, which takes damage when bombs are placed on either board and left alone, rather than being detonated with dropped tetrominoes. Popping off multi-line combos, or even the titular tetris, is a nasty way to irritate your friends. Lining the bottom of their map with bombs is an easy way to kill them off, rather than relying on pieces spilling over the top of their barrier. All it took was a few well planned tetris clears to turn a match upside down, so it’s probably best to remain outside of punching distance.
“All it took was a few well planned tetris clears to turn a match upside down, so it’s probably best to remain outside of punching distance.”
Amulets unlocked can be used by both players in versus mode, but if your only interest is playing against friends, having to slug through Goals by yourself to earn amulets probably isn’t going to be a selling point. I was honestly ready to move on from the solo offering after the 3rd or 4th set of challenges, and Tetris Battle Fusion offers over 50 different levels to play through.
If you’re a fan of Tetris, chances are you’re already familiar with Battle Fusion on your Android device or OUYA. If you’re on the fence, there’s still a really good probability that you’re familiar with Tetris as a whole and have an idea of what to expect. I enjoyed playing against friends and experimenting with different amulets, but I didn’t really enjoy being forced in to the solo mode just to unlock them. Of course I could always use real money to buy in-game currency and hope for the best when buying them at random, but that’s also a pretty terrible selling point. However, Tetris Battle Fusion is a fun take on the age old formula, pending you actually have people to play against.
Recommended for fans of: Playing Tetris against friends, competitive local games, puzzle games.
*This review is based on the OUYA version of Tetris Battle Fusion, which is also available on other Android platforms. Unless we find significant differences between each version, consider this our definitive review.
Bradley Keene is the Executive Editor here at What’s Your Tag?, generally handling reviews, public relations, and our social media communications on Facebook and Twitter. He’s an aspiring video game journalist, Baltimore native, and an aficionado of bizarre indie games. If it’s weird and pixely, he’ll like it. If he’s not writing, he can usually be found glued to his OUYA and Xbox One, or knee-deep in an MMO. Get in touch with him by e-mail at the address above, or follow him on Twitter.