Floating Blocks

Man, I had the weirdest dream that I wrote an article about how much I love retro games and why they’re so awesome….Wait, what the funk? Its 2015 already? Well fine then, 2014 was kind of a crap year anyway. You know what else is crappy? Tetris. Yes, that Tetris.

Ok just to clarify here, I love Tetris; I’ve sunk countless hours into Tetris 2 (or Tetris Attack as it’s sometimes known) and Tetris Worlds. I’ve played almost every variation and flavor of Tetris over the years and one thing has become very apparent to me: classic Tetris sucks.

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I’m talking about the no frills, original GameBoy/NES/PC Tetris here, or what is sometimes referred to as “Classic Tetris” in modern games. There are two very distinct features of Classic Tetris compared to other versions or styles: First, there is no “block holding” or “Hold Piece.” This move, beginning in The New Tetris (N64) let you “store” your current piece off screen and instead gave you the next piece in the queue. Then, at any point you could swap your current piece for the piece that was in “hold.” You could continue this hold swapping as much as you wanted with any piece (though some games limited one swap per piece, so you couldn’t keep the same two pieces in infinite limbo, thus giving you more time to plan your strategy). This innovation added an extra layer of strategy to the game and let you be much more flexible and strategic with crucial pieces like the always coveted “straight piece.”

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The second “feature” of Classic Tetris that continues to annoy me to no end is the “Floating Block.” Whenever you clear a line in Tetris, all the blocks above it, fall down to fill the empty line or lines you just cleared. However, broken or segmented pieces that have been partially cleared by lines will not fall down empty spaces directly below them. For example, if you place an L piece, with the tall end sitting above a hole and then clear a line so that it eliminates the bottom of the L Piece, you now have short “straight piece” just hanging out directly above a perfectly fillable hole. For me, this is maddening especially after playing the awesomely satisfying and strategic “Cascade Tetris” from Tetris Worlds. In Cascade Tetris, pieces will be broken apart in logical fragments as you clear lines and break pieces. The fragmented pieces will then be allowed to fall down empty holes per normal physics. This adds another whole layer of strategy and allows for some sweet line clearing c-c-c-c-combos!

tetris cascade

So yeah, Classic Tetris sucks and I hate it. But I still find it oddly addicting though I will always infinitely prefer Cascade Tetris. Plus that soft, sultry voice narrating your moves was pretty awesome too….