Tetris 99: Arika's first Tetris release in over a decade

For me, this was the biggest surprise of yesterday’s Nintendo Direct: A new competitive Tetris game from the minds at Arika, who brought us TGM.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKm7LaFQVnY

Gameplay screenshot:

I’ve played half a dozen rounds so far and I’m loving what serves up an increasingly exhilarating rounds of Tetris each play session.

Basically, it’s Tetris: Battle Royale. You and 99 other players - shown at the sides of the board - clearing lines with tetrominos and dumping garbage to knock out other players and level up your line-clearing impact abilities.

You can set the game to target other players based on various parameters (whether they are close to filling the board, randomly, whether they are attacking you), or you can even select another of the 99 players using the left stick, or by tapping their board on the touchscreen.

Someone over at the Tetris Reddit has written up a fairly comprehensive overview of the rules and it’s a lot more complex than you’d initially think from playing the game. The mechanics have a lot of parallels with traditional shooter-based Battle Royale games as well:

How to win at Tetris 99 - Battle Royale Mechanics explained

What’s interesting is this is, I think, Arika’s first release since TGM3 and the Xbox 360 launch title TGM. It’s been documented how they’ve struggled to release future games, like TGM4 (later renamed TGM 2015) due to a variety of issues (publishing, licensing), so I was extremely happy to see they’ve found a publishing partner for a fresh take on the game.

It also appears to have been built using NintendoWare Bezel Engine, which is licensed to third parties but seldom used over the likes of Unity, Unreal and PhyreEngine. Input lag and load times are kept to a minimum so I have few complaints.

What are your thoughts on this? Madness or ingenuity?


Looks amazing!

I don’t subscribe to Nintendo Online but this has me on the fence. I’ve always wanted to improve my Tetris speed. Maybe now’s the time.

Genius move by Nintendo to get this.

I played some last night and I’ll be playing ALOT more in the future. It’s really fun, it’s fast and the remixed music is awesome!

I would have bought this.

I love it. I was only able to get as high as 20th, but the gameplay is just so tight. If anything can make me better at Tetris while just playing it for fun, this is the game.

I agree with @Socksfelloff. I would have bought this. To get it for “free” with my Nintendo Online sub is awesome.

Honestly, I’d prefer if it was something I could buy outright because it’s the only thing I find attractive about Nintendo’s online service right now. I’ll probably ultimately give in (hell, I bought a PS4 just to play Tetris Effect) but I still wish it wasn’t tied to the service.

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This is the first game I plan to play when I get home from vacation. I’m glad to hear everyone’s positive impressions.

Think of it as $20 you’re paying to play it, then?

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Yeah, that works on a micro level and is what I’ll probably say when I sign up. But on a macro level I really didn’t want Nintendo lumping my subscription in with their stats and saying "oh, another Switch owner satisfied with what we’re offering.”

Is it possible to sign up, cancel immediately, and have your sub stay active for the rest of the year? Or does cancelling lose access immediately?

Exactly… $20 you get Tetris 99 and a bunch of NES games. Totally worth that for Tetris alone.

Played a few rounds with my sons yesterday and we all had a great time.

We used a Pro Controller, and the unwanted “up” inputs hurt our chances. I know there’s a lot of love/hate going around for the Switch Pro Controller, but this is the first time I really felt something was off.

Or maybe I just suck! :wink:

I read that newer Pro controllers don’t have this issue. But I have no idea if that’s really true or not.

I bought 3 of them just before Christmas, not sure if they’d be new models or not. :slight_smile:

Apparently the ones made after the Xenoblade 2 edition have a slightly different D-Pad design inside the shell. For some reason I get along pretty well with the Joy-Con buttons for most genres so I’m happy to wait for now though.

This game is so moreish - and I’m still discovering new ways to get up the ranks during a match. You can strategically get other players to target you (who target K.O.s) by not clearing the board, then strike back with some I pieces…sneaky.

The newer pro controllers starting with the Xenoblade 2 edition are better, but still have the same issue. Heard there may have been another improvement starting with the Smash edition one but not sure. All I know is that the first tetris game was unplayable for me with the launch one.

I bought my Pro controller used so no idea of age. Will need to check this out.

Think there are ways to tell what “batch” your controller is from from it’s serial number or something. There are also various “fixes” that people have done, like putting tape over the center area of the contact points on the board it the controller itself, but I can’t speak to the effectiveness.

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Played this last night. What a blast. My SN30 Pro wasn’t charged (they don’t hold a charge for shit) so I had to use the joy cons. That felt … off. Will try with a proper d-pad today!

I think Tetris is literally the ONLY game where the joycon “dpad” actually works quite well. It’s very hard to hit an accidental input even with my fat fingers.

Gah, only a few more hours until I can try this game.

It’s amazing how many different takes on Tetris there have been over the years. This will be my second Tetris game on the Switch, alone.

This game is maddeningly moreish! Tapping an-almost full rival board around the edge of the screen to select it to send garbage their way is a valid strategy to earn attack power badges.