Trust Tetris to leave you in a crumpled, sweaty mess


Tetris 99 (2019)

The rumours are true – I don’t know how to satisfy a woman. But what my detractors don’t realise is that I actually know something they don’t. As it turns out, there’s no way to keep a woman happy, because they’ll always fall victim to at least one side of the female triangle – they are either hungry, tired, cold, or all three. Through hard-work and perseverance, you can close off two sides, but nailing all three? Forget it. Trust me, this is a triangle that’ll leave you in more pain than a Toblerone that’s been in the fridge for days.

You might bring her to a cosy restaurant, dealing with her hunger and coldness in one stroke, but then she’ll immediately become tired. On another day, she’ll overcome her tiredness for maybe an hour or two around teatime, but hunger and coldness are never too far away. Even in a warm bed and as the little spoon, she may still have lingering cold. And then you’ll get woken up by her tummy rumbling.

But it doesn’t end there. When it comes to bra shopping, women are trapped by the triangle again – the bra’s got to be comfortable, look good and be the right price, but you’ll never get all three of these conditions satisfied. I hate to liken all women to trigonometry like this, mainly because I was absolutely hopeless at the subject in school. But I am apparently a qualified sociologist, so I get to make these observations on society and you get to shut up and listen.

I’m telling this to men out there because one day, suddenly and without warning, you will find yourself being ushered into Victoria’s Secret and having to pick out what looks good on your missus. What you find sexy and she finds sexy might end up at odds somewhat, you pervert, but only she can determine what’s comfortable enough for her. With those two decided, the only factor left is the cost. Can you work out which side of the triangle you’ll be losing out on, here?

As you quiveringly hand your card over to the far-too-sexy shop assistant, your heart is already beating like a jackhammer and your sweat glands are working overtime, and that’s before you’ve even seen the knickers on her. That was an awful lot of money you just forked over, sunshine, enough to put paid to your fantasy of literally tearing or biting her smalls off.

Yes, and it wouldn’t do to get too excited too soon. You’d better calm yourself down and distract yourself with something else. So how about a nice little game of Tetris? Or, since you’re a proper man now, you could take a whirl of the online Tetris battle royale, Tetris 99 for the Nintendo Switch.

A Tetris battle royale, eh. How on earth could that even work? Well before we get into it, if you’re having difficulty wrapping your head around the concept then you’re betting off thinking of this as Tetris with sexy knickers on. You’d think the game of Tetris couldn’t possibly have any more tricks up its sleeve and that you’re fully acquainted with it by now. But then suddenly it gets the stocking and suspenders on, something to really get the old heart pumping like it hasn’t for some time. And you’re stunned, almost into silence but left with just enough wonderment to say, “oooohh“.

At the beginning of every game of Tetris 99, a message pops up to say its “matching” you with other players. I think we may disagree fundamentally on the meaning of “match” though, because if you pick a bad time of day, you’ll know all about it. On the final leaderboard rankings you’ll find yourself having been trashed by バダス and マザーファッカー, both level 50 while you’re at level 4. So really, what chance did you ever have?

I’m all about the tunes in Tetris 99 as well, with every game starting off with a proper Eurodance version of the classic Kalinka Tetris tune, until the first 49 patsies go out. When there’s fifty of you left, the tune gets faster and more urgent. If you can get to that hallowed last 10 though, suddenly the tune switches to that old classic, Flight of the Bumblebee, the universal theme of panic and disorder.

Suddenly your heart’s bating like a jackhammer, and there’s no stopping for breath now. Not until you win, or you bottle it and make that ugly misdrop that you’ll never recover from. Or far more likely, you get swamped by an absolute avalanche of junk pieces from an opposition pro player.

This is the online Tetris battlefield, after all, so it’s every player for themselves in that last 10, no amateurs allowed. Like any battle royale, you need firepower for the last knockings, and you get firepower by scoring KOs against other fools in the earlier stages of the game. You can make their lives a misery by either manually targeting them, or selecting a more general attack plan, like goalhanging to try and be the last one to touch a player just before they lose.

You’d better get your strategy right though, because if you go too aggressive you might get blown away. But then, what strategy? All said and done, this is still Tetris, just on a larger scale and with more competition to deal with. I’m convinced that it’s pretty luck-based anyway – sometimes you can get absolutely roasted by the opposition and be spat out at number 60 odd, other times you can just play your normal, average speed game and cruise to at least the top 20 without getting much bother.

Of course, the top players will win consistently, but I’m certainly not a top player – I’ve no idea what a T-Spin is, only that it sounds dangerous and it could end up spilling everywhere. I’m forever falling victim to one of the classic Tetris blunders as well – getting a bad piece, and trying to sub in my Hold piece instead, only to realise that they’re both the exact same.

I’ll take this moment to recognise that the Hold function was a beautiful addition to Tetris. With the press of a button, you can save your current piece for later use. You have to be careful when adding any new feature to Tetris; it must be the most classic, sacrosanct formula in all of gaming.

The game is beautiful in its simplicity, but if you start giving it bells and whistles, you’ll only cause trouble. But I’m a huge fan of the Hold function. It doesn’t help me one bit in the dying stages of Tetris 99, of course. But you’ll feel like the most powerful entity in the world when you’ve got a line block waiting in there, before you call it into play, slam it home and get a crucial Tetris.

Tetris 99 is free to everyone who ponies up money for the Nintendo Switch Online. And to the several million Tetris fans in the world this game will make having a subscription completely worth it, because let’s face it, Smash Ultimate’s online won’t. That means there’s no chance of you winning a game now, of course, all the casuals will have already been bullied off – it’s only us serious business merchants left.

Try to find that neat little time window between the American pros winding down for the evening, and the Japanese coming online and trashing noobs with their morning sake, and maybe you’ll do well. Otherwise, wait until Nintendo Switch Online renewal time comes around, and Nintendo are forced to do something enticing with the service.

Golly, by the time they do that, even I will have caught a glimpse of some real-life sexy knickers. Perhaps they’ll dribble a few Game Boy games onto their weak imitation of a Virtual Console, or they might offer a fiver off a three-year-old game. That might entice a few pigeons to purchase the subscription and get smothered by a barrage of garbage blocks in Tetris 99, courtesy of you.

You can grab a physical copy of the game as well, or you can stick to digital only and pay up for a bit of DLC that will give you the marathon mode and all those other Tetris modes. But perhaps Puyo Puyo Tetris is a better selection for puzzle geeks. I’m not sure, I’m just an amateur panty man.

Tetris 99 may end up frustrating you more than it gets you excited, and sometimes you’ll wonder what all the fuss is about. But then you’ll go without it for a while, before it drops back into your head, perhaps while you’re at work. Suddenly you can’t wait until later that night when she’s laid out in front of you, G-string and red lipstick on, ready for you to have another go.

8 January 2021

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