Developer(s): Philips P.O.V. Entertainment
Publisher: Philips Interactive Media
Released: 1992

I’m not sure if I have to introduce Tetris or not, but here we go: Tetris is a falling-block puzzle game (the first of its kind, I think) and one of the most beloved and respected video games of all time. Various shapes, all composed of four square blocks, fall from the top of the playfield, and if you can arrange them to form a solid row with no spaces, the row disappears and points are awarded. The most you can erase in a single move is four lines, which is called a “tetris.”

Look at me bragging with a screenshot moments before scoring a tetris

Tetris for the CD-i is basically Tetris, but with a few control modifications that make it more difficult to play (aka “pulling a CD-i”). It’s possible these changes were introduced to accommodate the non-standard CD-i controllers many users had, but regardless I think mistakes were made. In most versions of Tetris, you have two buttons to rotate a piece either clockwise or counter-clockwise, and you can make the piece fall faster by pressing down. In CD-i Tetris, button one rotates the piece and button two slams it down into place. I cannot tell you how many times playing this I instinctively wanted to rotate it in the opposite direction and instead slammed it down into a terrible position. No matter what controller you’re using, “down” is still an option, so why not map dropping the piece to down instead of a button? It doesn’t make any sense and it’s immensely frustrating.

Before play begins, you can choose a faster level or provide some junk block “height” to make it more challenging

The gameplay takes place in a small rectangular window over a nature scene, such as a forest or a sand dune. The background is not animated, which may be for the best, as it could prove a distraction. Every 10 lines or so that you clear takes you to the next level, increasing the falling speed and updating the background. It’s a bit jarring both because 10 lines doesn’t seem like very much, so it’s happening constantly, and because it fades out to another screen that says “LEVEL 3” (or whichever) before fading back in.

With Tetris on the CD-i, you can travel the world from the comfort of your couch

The music in this Tetris port is very good and sets a nice mood, but it also skips to the next track every time you change levels, so you don’t get to hear any particular song for very long. Perhaps they should’ve doubled the number of lines you need to move up a level and slightly flattened the slope of the speed increase to compensate? Strangely, there are no sound effects during play, not even a little sting or triumphant noise when you score a tetris.

Starting from maximum height is nightmarish, but it’s an option if you’ve gotten too dang good

While Tetris remains a great game, and can’t help but be good and addictive fun, even on the CD-i, the unintuitive control scheme and lack of sound effects make this a less-than-ideal choice, especially when your options for Tetris are virtually limitless. Unless you simply love the music, and I understand there are those that do, it’s hard to imagine anyone being in the mood for some Tetris and choosing this version of all versions.

Graphics – 7
The different backgrounds are nice, if it a little generic

Sound – 7
A great soundtrack that fits the mood nicely, but some sound effects would be welcome

Gameplay – 7
It doesn’t get much better than Tetris, but poor control decisions introduce some needless frustration

Value – 7
Theoretically you could play Tetris forever, but it would be nice to have a two-player mode or something to spice it up

Reviewer’s Tilt – 5
I like Tetris as much as the next guy, but this particular version of Tetris is entirely inessential when there are so many better versions out there

Final Score – 6.4