EA (Electronic Arts) delivered three titles for the App Store launch, including the classic game of Tetris [App Store]. If you're not familiar with Tetris at all, you either have never played video games or are young... very young.

The original version of Tetris was released 23 years ago by Russian programmer Alexey Pajitnov. A version of Tetris appears to have made it to every gaming platform and the iPhone is no exception. The reason I'm telling you this is that I suspect that most people are not looking to buy iPhone Tetris to discover a new game, but, instead, to recapture an old feeling. As a result, similar to Ms. Pac-Man, its ability to do that lies in the controls.

Before we get into the controls, however, we should note that EA has created a polished game with solid graphics and a good soundtrack.

Tetris for the iPhone allows you to choose two types of play: "Marathon" and "Magic". Marathon is your classic Tetris with 15 levels of increasing speed and difficulty. Your goal, of course, is to fit the pieces to fill horizontal rows. When a row is "complete" it is removed from the board. The game ends when the board fills up.

The "Magic" mode of play offers shorter goals and introduce "special" (gimmicky) gameplay tools that allow you to affect the game board. The Minimizer tool, for example, allows you to pinch the piece to shrink it to a single block. Another Bubble tool allows you to touch on existing blocks to pop them out of existence. This type of gameplay can offer a shorter game sessions if you are on the go.

Traditionally, Tetris has been controlled with a digital input. This means left means left, right means right, there is no try in between: Joystick, Keyboard, D-Pad. For controlling iPhone Tetris, EA decided to use the touch screen and a combination of swiping and tapping. (Despite my own curiosity, we should probably be glad that EA resisted the urge to use accelerometer controls in this game.) The controls are as follows:

Move Left = Slide finger left
Move Right = Slide finger right
Rotate Left = Tap on left side of screen
Rotate Right = Tap on right side of screen
Slow Drop = Slide finger down
Fast Drop = Flick finger down

The result? Surprisingly playable. Like Ms. Pac Man, I think we're finding that swipe control is going to be the best to replace these digital controls, while the accelerometer should stay in the realm of analog controls (driving, for example).

So while I think casual Tetris fans will be reasonably happy with the controls, I suspect those that are more adept might run into issues as the levels progress. Unregistered swipes and taps do happen, though I suppose it's possible this could be minimized with more practice.

Youtube video of the gameplay in Marathon mode. The "ghost" pieces you see at the bottom of the screen can be disabled.

Game Details

Name: Tetris
Developer: EA (Electronic Arts)
App Store Link: Buy
Price: $9.99
Compatibility: iPhone and iPod Touch

TouchArcade Rating

  • Brian

    i dunno if i'd say it 'works,' considering half the time it crashes during loading on my phone

  • Brian

    i dunno if i'd say it 'works,' considering half the time it crashes during loading on my phone

  • arn

    @Brian, I hadn't seen that happen to me for Tetris, but I have seen it in other apps. Sometimes a reboot fixes that issue for other apps.

  • arn

    @Brian, I hadn't seen that happen to me for Tetris, but I have seen it in other apps. Sometimes a reboot fixes that issue for other apps.

  • John

    Watching the youtube video... does it really take *30* seconds to get to the main main? And another 15 to get into the game? Seems a bit excessive...

  • John

    Watching the youtube video... does it really take *30* seconds to get to the main main? And another 15 to get into the game? Seems a bit excessive...

  • arn

    @John Yep, that video reflects how long it takes. you can't skip any parts of the launch either, as far as I can tell (tapping doesn't work)

  • arn

    @John Yep, that video reflects how long it takes. you can't skip any parts of the launch either, as far as I can tell (tapping doesn't work)

  • http://blog.saers.com Nik

    Unavailable in the Norwegian Appstore. Why are the Appstores based on country? Having the music store location based is bad enough

  • http://blog.saers.com Nik

    Unavailable in the Norwegian Appstore. Why are the Appstores based on country? Having the music store location based is bad enough

  • Jane

    @Nik
    I assume it has to do with licensing. For example, with Pandora, they're not allowed to stream music to non-US listeners due to royalty/licensing problems in EU.

    It sucks, but it's also why the music store is the same way.

  • Jane

    @Nik
    I assume it has to do with licensing. For example, with Pandora, they\'re not allowed to stream music to non-US listeners due to royalty/licensing problems in EU.

    It sucks, but it\'s also why the music store is the same way.

  • http://www.jodywhitesides.com Jody

    @Jane,

    It's not a matter of problems, it's a matter of money. U.S. broadcasters don't pay the performers performance royalty, only the writers performance royalty. Thus Pandora's business model is probably based only on the writers royalty, and they likely don't want to pay the performers performance royalty that the rest of the world collects & pays to their working musicians who performed the music.

    That should not have anything to do with software applications.

  • http://www.jodywhitesides.com Jody

    @Jane,

    It's not a matter of problems, it's a matter of money. U.S. broadcasters don't pay the performers performance royalty, only the writers performance royalty. Thus Pandora's business model is probably based only on the writers royalty, and they likely don't want to pay the performers performance royalty that the rest of the world collects & pays to their working musicians who performed the music.

    That should not have anything to do with software applications.

  • Jonathon

    Ya, it's also not available in the Irish app store. As a matter of fact none of the games mentioned on this site are on it. No games at all. Quite annoying as I've been following this site for a while and was really looking forward to trying out some of these.

  • Jonathon

    Ya, it's also not available in the Irish app store. As a matter of fact none of the games mentioned on this site are on it. No games at all. Quite annoying as I've been following this site for a while and was really looking forward to trying out some of these.

  • Noodles

    No Tetris on the Australian App Store either (no EA games at all), despite most other games being available. Very disappointing. At least Bejeweled 2 is available.

  • Noodles

    No Tetris on the Australian App Store either (no EA games at all), despite most other games being available. Very disappointing. At least Bejeweled 2 is available.

  • Brett

    None of these games are available in the UK Store. :'-(

  • Brett

    None of these games are available in the UK Store. :'-(

  • http://www.mavisxp.com mavis

    Why not set up a free US iTMS account and use gift cards to fund purchases? That's exactly what I'm doing (in Japan) and it works a treat. ;)

  • http://www.mavisxp.com mavis

    Why not set up a free US iTMS account and use gift cards to fund purchases? That's exactly what I'm doing (in Japan) and it works a treat. ;)

  • http://creativepony.com Jenna Fox

    I just tried to buy this in the australian app store too and couldn't. This is the best reason I've found yet to jailbreak my iPod Touch and support efforts to pirate iPhone App Store apps. This is totally unfair and ridiculous.

  • http://creativepony.com Jenna Fox

    I just tried to buy this in the australian app store too and couldn't. This is the best reason I've found yet to jailbreak my iPod Touch and support efforts to pirate iPhone App Store apps. This is totally unfair and ridiculous.

  • fuzzymath

    I can't imagine when the speed increases that using your figure like that will be fun anymore. What is up with the hint showing where the piece will fall? Don't the kids today know how to play tetris?

  • fuzzymath

    I can't imagine when the speed increases that using your figure like that will be fun anymore. What is up with the hint showing where the piece will fall? Don't the kids today know how to play tetris?

  • arn

    @fuzzymath yeah the "ghost" setting as they call it can be turned off. it is on by default. And yes, I agree that really high level players won't be able to keep up with finger controls.

  • arn

    @fuzzymath yeah the "ghost" setting as they call it can be turned off. it is on by default. And yes, I agree that really high level players won't be able to keep up with finger controls.

  • endekks

    Too bad none of the EA games are available in the JP store. >___<

  • endekks

    Too bad none of the EA games are available in the JP store. >___<

  • http://www.thesecondpress.com/blog/ Yonghwee

    Pretty awesome! Never knew Tetris could look so good.

  • http://www.thesecondpress.com/blog/ Yonghwee

    Pretty awesome! Never knew Tetris could look so good.

  • Frank

    @Brian

    I agree on the quitting. Initially Tetris would quit once EVERY time I tried to play it. It would then launch correctly on the second attempt. However, last night I tried it at least ten times in a row and it quit every single time. I could not play it. Then inexplicably it worked this morning. This is absolutely unacceptable behavior from a $9.99 application. This is also a downfall of the "no demos" issue with the app store. It also bugs me that this is from one of the biggest game developers in the world. If indie developers can create apps that don't crash then I think EA should be able to as well.

    As a side note, has anyone else noticed that games ignore whether or not you have the phone set to vibrate. It was quite a shock when I had my phone set to vibrate and I turned on Tetris which launched at full volume.

  • Frank

    @Brian

    I agree on the quitting. Initially Tetris would quit once EVERY time I tried to play it. It would then launch correctly on the second attempt. However, last night I tried it at least ten times in a row and it quit every single time. I could not play it. Then inexplicably it worked this morning. This is absolutely unacceptable behavior from a $9.99 application. This is also a downfall of the "no demos" issue with the app store. It also bugs me that this is from one of the biggest game developers in the world. If indie developers can create apps that don't crash then I think EA should be able to as well.

    As a side note, has anyone else noticed that games ignore whether or not you have the phone set to vibrate. It was quite a shock when I had my phone set to vibrate and I turned on Tetris which launched at full volume.

  • Rocko

    @Frank

    I noticed the volume issue too but on the pinball game. But I think it depends on the game because Trism is silent with the vibrate switch on. Yea, those are the only two games I've played. :P

    Won't be buying Tetris though, let EA re-release an update with a timer (set time) or countown (set number of blocks) at a cheaper price. I mean, it's Tetris.

  • Rocko

    @Frank

    I noticed the volume issue too but on the pinball game. But I think it depends on the game because Trism is silent with the vibrate switch on. Yea, those are the only two games I've played. :P

    Won't be buying Tetris though, let EA re-release an update with a timer (set time) or countown (set number of blocks) at a cheaper price. I mean, it's Tetris.

  • Mark

    I hate hate HATE that you can't listen to your own music while playing. I hate hate HATE the incredible load times, and the fact that the both the graphics and controls are awkward and gimmicky. What annoys me most is that "Tris", a jailbroken app, had no loading times, let you listen to your own music whilst playing, AND it was free. If I worked at EA, I'd be mortified that some teenagers could throw together a better Tetris app than a multi-billion dollar corporation can.

  • Mark

    I hate hate HATE that you can't listen to your own music while playing. I hate hate HATE the incredible load times, and the fact that the both the graphics and controls are awkward and gimmicky. What annoys me most is that "Tris", a jailbroken app, had no loading times, let you listen to your own music whilst playing, AND it was free. If I worked at EA, I'd be mortified that some teenagers could throw together a better Tetris app than a multi-billion dollar corporation can.

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  • stanley

    Constantly crashes. Was fun and definately the coolest tetris I have played, the first time it actually worked, but it only worked for about one level. Now the app crashes on start up every time. I re-installed it, rebooted, and it worked once again. ONCE. They better update this soon, because they are charging people for a buggy piece of crap. Get it together EA!

  • stanley

    Constantly crashes. Was fun and definately the coolest tetris I have played, the first time it actually worked, but it only worked for about one level. Now the app crashes on start up every time. I re-installed it, rebooted, and it worked once again. ONCE. They better update this soon, because they are charging people for a buggy piece of crap. Get it together EA!

  • http://www.fragmental3d.com Zach K

    2D Tetris is definitely a classic (and an all-time favorite), but why not add a dimension and play Fragmental 3D instead? It's just how 3D Tetris should be -- moving/rotating pieces, a camera you can drag anywhere, multiple "Fragment" sets, several gameplay modes, and online leaderboards!

    You can also get started with Fragmental 3D Lite for FREE.

  • http://www.fragmental3d.com Zach K

    2D Tetris is definitely a classic (and an all-time favorite), but why not add a dimension and play Fragmental 3D instead? It's just how 3D Tetris should be -- moving/rotating pieces, a camera you can drag anywhere, multiple "Fragment" sets, several gameplay modes, and online leaderboards!

    You can also get started with Fragmental 3D Lite for FREE.

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  • http://twitter.com/21tigermike Michael A. Robson

    Get Drop7, it's better

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