Video Game Thoughts: Tetris Friends

Tetris Friends is a 2008 web-based puzzle game by Tetris Online, Inc for the PC. One day I just felt like playing Tetris. I had the old Tetris on Game Boy and The New Tetris on GameCube, but they were both buried away in boxes. I did a search for a PC-based version. I was able to find one, but it was fairly old. I thought my computer might be too new. That’s when I found out about Tetris Friends. It started out as a Facebook game, but later the company released a standalone browser-based version. That’s the one that I played. It was exactly what I was looking for and totally free too.

The typical Tetris game had maybe four or five game modes, but Tetris Friends had closer to ten different modes. Almost any version of Tetris I could think of was there. People could play without even creating an account, but I registered so I could have all my stats recorded in each game mode. They had this really innovative, asynchronous multiplayer. Many of the game modes had a multiplayer option, but players weren’t facing other players in real time. Instead, other players’ past games would be recorded by the server. Then when someone went to play, the server would pit the recorded player’s game against the real-time player’s game. It was a really cool idea. I loved it. This was no-pressure multiplayer.

Tetris Friends was great because all the gameplay was free. There were some paid social features, but they were not necessary to play. Players could pay to get different colored Tetris pieces (tetrominoes) that other players would see when facing their recorded games. There were also some customizations players could buy to show-off on their profiles. After someone played against someone’s recorded game, they could click on the name to see that profile. I didn’t care about showing off or anything, but it was a nice idea for players that liked that sort of thing.

I’ve really loved Tetris for many years. It’s great that there is a free version made by a legit company for people to play. I can become really obsessive about Tetris, but it’s always self-limiting. After a few days, I stop being able to sleep. My brain just keeps trying to solve the puzzle of Tetris pieces falling down. That forces me to stop playing. They even have a name for this: the Tetris effect. I got my mom to play Tetris Friends for a few days. She doesn’t get into video games much, so it’s very rare I can get her to play anything. It didn’t last, but I was happy to have shown her a tiny bit of fun for a short time.

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