Ah the Tetromino, how we’ve missed you. Well, some of us anyway. Yes for the sake of the five people in the world who have never played Tetris, the game featured different shaped blocks, primarily made from four small squares. Each shape is known as a Tetromino, in the same way that a Domino is made of two squares put together. The idea of Tetris was to aim the falling blocks, as they descended from the sky like impressionist confetti, so they would interlink in a large, vertical rectangle-shaped space. As you lined up a full horizontal line of tetromino parts, the line would disappear and you would give yourself a bit more room for your tumbling pieces to fall.
Tetro Mania, presented by developers ThaiBro, uses the same basic principle of combining tetromino pieces to form a whole, but instead of slotting them into a rectangular space as they fall out of the heavens, you have a series of blank shapes, of all sizes and degrees of strangeness, presented to you as a level of the game. Using the tetrominos provided for each level, you must fill the shape by rotating and moving around your given pieces. There are 100 playable levels, plus 40 extra levels, increasing in difficulty throughout the course of the game, by way of adding in time limits, increasing the number of “dummy” tetrominos to get in your way, and a tetrominos-guzzling frog, whom we shall discuss further later in the review.
The presentation of the game is solid. Brightly coloured blocks, and an easy-to-navigate menu system, allow for the game to be basic but pleasing to the eye. How enjoyable the game is on the ears is another matter entirely. The same, slightly up-tempo clicking beat, which loops every fifteen or so seconds, does get irritating rather quickly, so I’d recommend just turning the sounds off altogether. I know I shouldn’t expect the London Philharmonic Orchestra to be blasting out at me in glorious surround sound, but since the game is very basic in it’s gameplay and presentation, the music could have stepped it up just a little bit.
The first twenty levels aren’t particularly strenuous, with hints and instructions given in some levels when introducing new features. The first new feature to arrive is the tetronimo guzzling frog. You must determine which piece, or pieces, you will not need to complete the level, and feed them to Mr Frog for extra points and another star. You get a 3-star rating for each level, so forgetting to feed him will result in only achieving two stars. All this forces you to do is complete the puzzle, apart from the last piece you need, and shovelling whatever is left down his slimy throat before completing the level. It doesn’t really add a great deal of challenge to the game, more just a delaying tactic, and even that’s only for the sake of about a couple of seconds.
It isn’t until level 60 that the time limit feature comes into play, starting with 2 minutes to complete the level, and slicing off thirty seconds every ten levels that pass. There is however one major glitch with the game that renders the clock function entirely useless. I noticed it on about the 63rd level, having 3-starred every level so far on the first go, when I realised I hadn’t taken on sustenance in the hour or so I’d been playing the game, so came out of the game while I got a snack. When I returned and booted up the game again, at the beginning of level 63, the clock was still there but had frozen at the time I had put the game down. I tested this a few times, and it is entirely possible to stop the clock on every level, within a couple of seconds, by starting the chosen level and pressing the home button on the iPhone/iPod, giving it a moment, and then returning to the game. Seeing as you gain more points at the end for any spare time you do not use, you’ll be able to get nearly full marks on every level and spend as long as you want trying to complete them. Some may call it cheating, but I feel “improvised winning” is more the term I would use.
To be honest the later levels still aren’t that challenging, and I feel that a couple of retries may have been needed as the time limit decreased, but then you’re only learning the pattern of what goes where and trying to recreate it from memory, as quickly as possible. Half the time it seems like there could be numerous options, as I’d just throw a couple of shapes in to get in the swing of things, and then discover I’d pretty much solved it, and just had to go through the motions of putting the last blocks in place from the pool of shapes you have below the playing screen. Feed whatever ones you have leftover to froggy and “Wahey!” that’s 100 levels complete in about two hours. There is of course some replay value to the game, not to mention those extra 40 levels, and the speed of completion will depend on your brain’s grasp on logic puzzles.
But, really, once it was all finished I was a little bored of it. The last few levels were only completed because I’d gone so far through the game, hoping that something would come in to really challenge me, that it just felt necessary to finish off the last few tedious levels. I know playing games is my job, and it’s obviously right down there with such lowly professions as sewer maintenance and killer-bee keeping, but I still wouldn’t mind being entertained while I am sitting here crippling my thumbs. At the end of the day, it’s a fun and inexpensive game that will keep you amused for a while. Just so long as you’ve stuck cotton wool balls so far into your ears you’ve both blocked out any sound, and, if you’re lucky, damaged your brain slightly; it’s the only way of adding a greater sense of challenge to Tetro Mania. So enjoy flinging coloured blocks around while it lasts, and also enjoy trying to remember what a tree is, or what comes after the number four.
MLG Rating: 6/10
Platform: Mac/ iOS Release Date: 18/05/2011
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Tetro Mania for review purposes by the promoter. The title was reviewed over the course of one week on a iPhone. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.