IT’S NOT A TRIPLE-A SMASH, BUT TETRIS EFFECT IS THE QUINTESSENTIAL PLAYSTATION GAME.
Among the game’s many pleasures is its ability to take you back through time
When you think ‘PlayStation’, what game comes to mind? Maybe it’s Uncharted or God Of War or, depending on your age, Metal Gear Solid. But firing up Tetris Effect transported me right back to the original PlayStation.
It’s an intensely personal connection. For me, the shimmering visuals of Enhance’s psychotropic puzzler are like a portal to the first time I saw a PlayStation, round a friend’s house on his birthday. What I remember isn’t the games – maybe he didn’t have any yet – but just watching him pop in a CD, and marvelling at the music visualiser’s pulsating stabs of light, keeping perfect time with Wildchild’s ‘Renegade Master’. It was a simpler time.
Beyond that, Tetris Effect feels like an evolution of the original PlayStation’s promise, perhaps best epitomised by WipEout, that games could be cool and weird, and sit on the cutting edge of culture. Because it was the ’90s, that meant bold graphic design from Designers Republic – all geometry, kanji, and fonts that looked like they should printed onto a puffer jacket – and dance tracks from the likes of The Chemical Brothers and Orbital.
These were games that could fit alongside a clubbing lifestyle, games with abstract 3D visuals like Kula World and Kurushi (aka Intelligent Qube, one of PlayStation Classic’s preloaded titles), or delivering audiovisual feedback like Vib-Ribbon, Bust A Groove, and PaRappa The Rapper. Sony actually installed rooms full of PlayStations in nightclubs.
If you squint just right, all of this is visible in any given round of Tetris Effect. It’s a game where every spin of a tetromino gives off a sound effect as satisfying as PS1’s startup twinkle, filled with gorgeous imagery made up of scattered pixels of light, the whole thing pulsing in time to a stage’s soundtrack.
If PlayStation was targeting 20-something clubbers with its flashing lights and banging techno, Tetris Effect feels like the grown-up version, still messing with the old brain chemistry but ultimately just trying to have a nice Sunday. As I approach 30 myself, that’s exactly what I need.