Greetings, Lusipurr.com. I was playing the PSN version of Tetris earlier when I began to think about it, about Tetris as a whole. One thing that began to confuse me is the sheer popularity of Tetris. Why is it that such a seemingly simple game has been so successful for over twenty-five years? After some thinking, I came to realize that Tetris works so well because it has the three elements that every casual game should ideally have to appeal to a wide audience. More than nearly any other game, Tetris seems to sit on the border between “casual” and “hardcore” gaming, and therein lies its greatest strength. Today, I would like to discuss what I feel are the three biggest reasons for the ongoing popularity of Alexey Pajitnov’s falling shapes game.
Simplicity: The Game is Easy to Learn
Tetris is extremely easy to learn. There are only seven tetrimino shapes to learn, and since each tetrimino is only made up of four smaller blocks, the shapes are not particularly complicated. The goal in Tetris is also simple: fill a row on the screen with blocks and that row will be cleared. The basic core mechanics of Tetris are not hard to grasp and take very little time to work. This is absolutely key in a casual experience; for a game to have massive appeal to a non-gaming audience it must be fairly quick and easy to pick up and play. The simplicity of the basic Tetris mechanics makes the game easy to pick up, even for non-gamers, and that is a key part of why Tetris has managed to acquire its popularity.
Difficult to Master: Hours and Hours and Hours of Gameplay
And here is the real beauty of Tetris, especially in its newer iterations. T-Spins, item holding, and drop speed that increases as level increases add complexity to the simple formula. Playing Tetris competitively against others is a great way for a gamer to be humbled; there are some absolutely staggering players out there in the world. Additionally, there are versions of Tetris that are fast enough to provide a huge challenge level; the “Radical” variant of the PSN version of the game and the JP-ONRY Tetris: The Grand Master both spring to mind immediately. Combined with the first point, then, it is easy to see why the Tetris franchise has had such longevity: for new players, the game is easy to learn, but the old players still have room to improve themselves.
Dynamicism: The Game is Fun to Play
And of course, the obvious one: Tetris is fun. This is a valid point, however, because so many other casual games are not dynamic and are certainly not fun to play. Mafia Wars is always the same boring thing every time a player revisits it, but no two Tetris games are ever the same and many are not even remotely similar. Tetris manages to do what almost no other casual game since then has managed: Tetris has created an experience that starts off fun and manages to hold up even after dozens of hours. Combined with its easy to learn, difficult to master style of design, it is easy to see then why Tetris has managed to stay popular for over twenty years.
It is no secret that I love Tetris, and now I realize why that is. Like the Pokemon games or Plants vs. Zombies, Tetris manages to be one of very few games to have wide casual appeal while also simultaneously offering up an experience that hardcore gamers will not find disappointing. How many other popular casual games will have anywhere near the longevity that Tetris has managed? In this reviewer’s opinion, the number of casual games as appealing as this one is extremely slim.