I know, I hear you. “We don’t need another stupid Tetris game.” We have it on our phones, our Nintendo DSes, our consoles, our computers, our damn tablets. The classic game of putting various shapes made of four squares is everywhere. Even EA had a series of Tetris titles. So do we really need another one? Joke’s on you, because yes, yes we do.
You probably think I’m nuts, and that is totally acceptable. But, hear me out. There are two types of people in this world: fans of Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s work, and those who have no idea who he is (and I guess there’s the gray area of people who maybe have seen his work in passing, but don’t know him or his work by name). Ironically enough, I would most likely be in the category of people who had no idea who he was, if it wasn’t for my very good friend, John.
John showed me Rez when we were in middle school (we used to give him a hard time for only liking games that involved flying shapes and colors with techno music, but the joke was on us, these games are amazing). Rez came out for the PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast back in 2001. The game was made to focus on something called synesthesia, which is defined as “the production of a sense impression relating to one sense or part of the body by stimulation of another sense or part of the body.” In other words: shapes and colors and music, oh my! This shit is trippy, my dude!
After Rez, Mizuguchi’s similar hit titles included Lumines and Lumines II, the spiritual successor to Rez, Child of Eden, and most recently, Rez Infinite for the PlayStation VR. Mizuguchi’s dedication to providing the best visuals and musical experience is insane. Genki Rockets, the “band” responsible for the music in Child of Eden, was something Mizuguchi had put together years prior to the game’s release specifically to develop the soundtrack.
Tetris Effect is not for the faint of heart – if virtual reality gives you motion sickness often, I don’t recommend picking up this title. If virtual reality is your jam, however, by all means, pick it up and never log off. Tetris Effect is Mizuguchi’s most impressive work yet, as hard as that may be to wrap your head around.
The visuals will pay homage to Child of Eden fans, as well as bring a whole new level of visual experiences for new and old fans to enjoy. The music is without a doubt more astonishing tracks from his imaginative mind, the time incorporating actions into the soundtrack. For example, on the final round, I got to demo, rotating the blocks added a clapping and vocal effect that seamlessly flowed with the music. Doing a “hard drop” also added to the music. When you clear a line, exploding effects pull you in closer to feeling like you are one with the game.
Tetris Effect isn’t just a re-do of the classic title with flashing colors, however. This title has added a mechanic called “The Zone.” When your zone meter fills up and you initiate entering The Zone, time stops, and you’re able to get massive point bonuses. The more lines you clear, the more existing lines below them it stacks up to eliminate once your time in The Zone is over. Visuals and sound also drastically change for this mode specifically.
The game will offer three difficulties: beginner, normal and expert. Each difficulty will display a map of different levels you have to go through to complete the path for that difficulty. Each level is different, offering various color schemes, themes, and types of music. The way the effects connected with the mind was simply out of this world. I did this demo on the show floor, in a building with roughly 68,000 other people. The game does such a good job of immersing the player, I honestly forgot where I was. I forgot I was at E3 trying out a game demo.
Removing the headset, I felt different. I felt rejuvenated, as I have after playing most of Mizuguchi’s previous titles. Hell, I cried when I played Child of Eden. Even though I was playing a re-do of an old classic, the unique elements from Rez and Lumines came together in a beautifully unexpected way. Sure, the demo lasted all of ten minutes, but ten minutes in that world was exactly what I needed.