Digital Playground Mayl Edition by Rivers

A Long, Strange Trip

By Rivers

When I was a kid my grandparents had a Super Nintendo – and that thing was the shit. That is, until my grandfather retired and discovered the Tetris / Dr Mario combination game. Three rounds of pick-your-poison and this guy would beat literally everyone literally every single time. Witchcraft, I tell you! And upon whooping your ass, while you stared at the TV in confused disbelief he’d cackle behind you “skunked ya!”

I was ‘skunked’ many times. Every week I gnawed on bitter defeat until I finally honed my skills and unleashed with my first victory. It became personal. And it’s still personal. Tetris and Dr Mario. Every once in a while during a holiday dinner someone will say “oh we should get out the video game” and every single time I take the liberty of destroying my entire family, my child included, in honor of how my grandfather used to torture me.

This said, you can imagine my incredible delight to find Tetris Effect: Connected on Xbox Live. I sat down all smug, chose expert, decided I’d have the entire game beat in a weekend and abruptly got my ass handed to me. This Tetris is not 90s Tetris – and it is not designed for those that are easily distracted. I found out that I am easily distracted! 

The game is beautiful. The colors are stunning the music is great, the things that happen in the background are so pretty. The themes are gorgeous and sparkly and my controller batteries died SO many times from the bass of the music being pulsed through it. While the pieces and premise of the game was simple and exactly how I remember it, there were new challenges in how the pieces spun (to distract you) and how the backgrounds evolved in these crazy light shows (to distract you) and how the music was like Cirque du Soleil (to distract you) and how the speeds arbitrarily change (to fuck you while you’re distracted).

While the game does still have the multiplayer competition that I once reveled in, it’s honestly more enjoyable playing solo and going through the journey. You kind of get lost in the music and imagery, and it’s interestingly soothing despite the intense frustration at certain levels. Nothing is ever as satisfying as a series of ‘Tetrises’ and clearing a level you get stuck on is absolutely gratifying. 

Eventually, I found the end of the long, strange trip with a 90 point achievement for defeating all the levels. I was kind of sad, and stared at the screen in disbelief for a few moments. My only complaint is that it seemed there should have been more levels. 

I can imagine this wouldn’t be a game that everyone would be intent to play, especially start-to-finish. It certainly doesn’t have the action or complexity of games we normally talk about. For me, however, every time I played it brought me back to my grandfather’s living room and furiously pounding buttons only to get my ass kicked. It was a direct connection to one of my fondest childhood memories and I love how a reimagined classic game can have such beauty and interest and still stir up all that nostalgia. 10/10.