Tetris 99. Wow.

At first I was skeptical. I don’t like competitive games as a general rule. I see games as a way to understand their creator, or myself, or to challenge myself to grow, or to give me material for other ideas. When the content is centered around what other people do and how they react to things, this changes the game fundamentally for me, and then it doesn’t really fit one of the driving reasons I play them.

When we were kids, my sisters and I would play the SNES version of Tetris, from the Tetris and Dr. Mario combo game. I got really good at beating pretty much all of them. That game had a static garbage block generation rule though. Single lines didn’t do anything, doubles were 1, triples were 2 (?), and tetrises were 4 (?) or 5. So you’re better off if you can knock out more tetrises than the other player. Doubles were probably the second best bet. Or, wait until they knock out a tetris, but keep your side low by clearing singles with skimming, then drop a long block down the hole created by their garbage blocks from their tetris.

But Tetris 99 is different. There are so many more elements (in addition to the +97 other players, vs the original 2 players), like targeting, badges, and KOs. Your garbage blocks have to go somewhere. If you want to stay off people’s radar, leave it on random, and when your target targets you, switch to someone else, because you know they’ve got the target attackers setting on. The problem here is that once it reaches 50 players left, you’re much weaker than the strongest players, who’ve been steadily racking up kills in the first half of the game, and if you get targeted by more than one at this point, you’re pretty much done.

Targeting KOs is a viable option, but it’s likely that someone else is already targeting them to get them in that state to begin with. Targeting badges will pit you against the best players in the game, the ones with the most KOs, likely because they’re just pounding anyone who dares target them and racking up those early KOs.

No, the best advantage seems to go to targeting attackers. This has the possible downside of you locking into a battle with another player if you’re both targeting attackers. The trick is to be FAST. You need to be clearing lines with 3 out of every 4 blocks you drop. I find that it helps to make a few ‘mistakes’ and leave 1-2 holes in each line, building the lines up 3-4 high. Then when you’re targeted, start clearing them as fast as you can. Combos rack up extra garbage blocks, and the more badges you get, the higher this bonus is.

T-spins are something else. A full T-spin - clearing 3 lines with a t-spin - sends 5 garbage blocks to other players AS A BASE. This is more than a tetris, which I think must be 3 or 4 as a base. Add badges and combos into this and you’re in business. If you can rack up multiple line clears against people targeting you, not only do you destroy the garbage blocks they send you before they can fully from, but you start sending multiples back at them. It’s not clear if you’re targeting multiple players (target attackers seems to be unique in this) that they each get the full number of garbage blocks, or if they get split up.

Inquiring minds want to know: do you even t-spin, bro?

Time for another 1st place.