Before there was Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies, there was Tetris. The game has an intriguing history and while it was first released in 1984, it was the 1989 release of the Nintendo Game Boy, which included Tetris, that made it extremely popular. Basically, Tetris was one of the very first games to be associated with a mobile platform, and now Android users can get a free copy to play on their smartphone.
If you aren’t familiar with Tetris, it is a puzzle game. A random sequence of shapes, composed of fours square blocks each, fall down the screen. The objective is to move the shapes sideways or by rotating them 90 degrees to create a horizontal line of ten blocks without gaps. As lines are created, they disappear, and to progress through the game you need to clear a certain number of lines to move on to the next level. Each level increases the speed at which the shapes drop, requiring faster thinking because when the screen fills the game ends.
I was stymied in my first attempt to install Tetris Free on my Nexus S from the web version of the Android Market. I selected the first entry of Tetris Free amongst a rather long list of comparable games, only to discover that version was not the right one for phones in the United States. Further down the list is the U.S. version, which installs on my Nexus One and Nexus S, but not on the HTC Flyer.
When Tetris was created, touchscreens did not exist, and you manipulated the shapes either with a keyboard or a joystick, so I was curious as to how well it would play on a touchscreen. I really think Electronic Arts did a great job in enabling Tetris to work on touchscreens. You slide your finger left or right to move the shape, tap the right or left side of the screen to rotate the shape, flick down to fast drop the shape, or slide down to slowly place the shape.
Unfortunately, there are two things about the game that really annoy me. One is the background music, which is an electronica remix of the original game soundtrack, and I think becomes unpleasant after a short period of time. Good thing you can turn off the sound. The second annoyance is that while the game is free, it has a healthy amount of ads, not only at top of the screen at all times, but also occasional interstitial ads. Because EA decided to include “Free” in the game title, there is hope that they might release a paid version without ads.
If you are a fan of Tetris, I think you will enjoy the Free version on Android phones, despite the music and ads. You will find it in the Android Market, and is apparently available for markets worldwide.