The Retro Critic


Games like Hatris are like purple space dolphins.

They’re rare.

They’re beautiful.

They’re purple.

And they totally exist.

Sure Tetris is a good game. A great game, even. But it’ll never be as great as a good hat and that’s the sad truth. Luckily, someone once made Hatris and finally all the class and style of a hat and the stacking bliss that is an epic game of Tetris were merged together into one fant-HAT-stic creation, to say the least.

You can find the game on the good old NES, Game Boy, the Arcade even but, really, this is the kind of game you should really be playing on your TurboGrafx-16. For no particular reason other than to be able to ask the near-rhetorical question “You ever play Hatris on the TurboGrafx-16?”

In fact, I would suggest getting a Tetris or Tetris-esque game on every platform, just for the heck of it. This would include Welltris on the Amiga, of course.

On that note, let’s get back to Hatris.

The startup screen may look like a cheap last-minute attempt to make a League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen game somehow but the level select screen already suggests a castle setting, like Tetris but slightly less obviously Russian I guess.

Stage Select Hatris

So the game itself, if I’m honest, isn’t really like Tetris at all.

Well… it is and it isn’t.

Oh sure some items scroll down, you can rearrange them and stack everything up in rows but, first of all: you’re stacking hats. Second of all: the hats stack up on on top of each other vertically, not in line. There are no funny shapes for you to deal with as the hats show up in twos and there’s sadly no catchy tune for you to rock out to as you play the game. The music in Hatris is fine, don’t get me wrong, it just doesn’t have that iconic “oomph” you expect from something Tetris-related.

You get a small selection of hats to play with at first including a Riddler-style green bowler, what I can only describe as an origami paper boat on fire and whatever the band Devo was wearing back in the 80’s.

Hatris Level 1

Stacks of five identical hats make the whole bunch disappear (which gives you points) but the trick comes when you are forced to sacrifice a stack that makes sense to place some random other hat you couldn’t stack anywhere else. In further levels, you’ll find yourself cursing the taller hats and making many bad split-second decisions.

Luckily, there are fireballs.

Fireball Hatris

And yes, before you even think of trying it, you shouldn’t land them directly on a dude’s head.

They don’t like it.

Burnt Hatris

I just have one question before I proceed with the review, though.


I await your logical responses in the comments section so put on your thinking hats.

There are actually different types of fireballs including the orange flames which burn off one hat or a stack of identical hats and the blue flames which destroy all the hats on someone’s head.

Blue Flame Hatris

Blue flames are super awesome.

The completely useless character faces at the bottom of the screen change throughout and some new hats are soon thrown into the mix. Purposely tall ones usually, just to mess with your beautifully over-the-top hat-stacking.

Admittedly, a big part of the fun lies in seeing the silly stacks get dangerously close to that fatal red line at the top of the screen.

Girl Hat Stack Hatris

It can get pretty messy surprisingly fast so never underestimate the power of the hat! The game lures you into a false sense of security by letting you stack up your hats slowly and carelessly before “piling on” the challenges and soon leaving you covered in hats of all shapes and sizes.

Big Stacks Hatris

Buried under a sea of hats.

A HAT-lantic Ocean, if you will.

Ultimately, as stupid of an idea as Hatris may be, it is still a fun, addictive puzzle game and, against all odds, I do definitely recommend it. It’s not quite as effortlessly genius as the original Tetris, granted, but it presents a challenge that’s unique enough that it feels like you’re playing something completely different.

Something… poetically different almost.

Yup, I’m definitely feeling a poem coming on, right now.

Here goes:

“Roses are red.

Dolphins are purple.

I’m stacking hats.

And so should you.”

Enjoy Hatris, folks.

T-HAT’s one good game.

(3rd and last hat pun, promise)

End Hatris