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Tetromino Royale

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I like to think it’s inherently obvious that I’m a Tetris guy but never in my wildest dreams would I imagine a Battle Royale against 98 other players. Well, I guess it’s the kind of joke you would make in passing. Where someone just says something they think is funny because of how ridiculous it sounds.

Like: 100 Sims drop onto a property and all try to sabotage each other. Or 100 hundred janitors have to kill each other but the last one alive has to clean everything up.

But now that I think about it, I’m sure a Fire Emblem Battle Royale would probably work.

Surprisingly, Tetris BR is basically where we’re at right now. Since “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” companies everywhere have been trying to capture that magic. The simplicity of dropping onto the island and shooting everyone else till you’re the last one standing, is exactly why Fortnite gave up on it’s original mode that they spent years on... to allow for easier access into a child’s parent’s wallet.

But it works doesn’t it? It’s a basic concept that we just know about video games, and not a lot of them really break the mould unless they add some kind of twist. Fortnite has buildings, recently popular BR darling Apex Legends has hero abilities. (Which are fun and interesting but not as Overwatch inspired as others seem to believe, Welcome to my Ted Talk.) Even Paladins is doing the Battle Royale thing, because why not?

You shoot, you kill, you win or die.

[picture of my family in my nightmares.]
[picture of my family in my nightmares.]

But here I am, sitting in my own little corner, excitedly playing Tetris 99 not because, it too is now a Battle Royale game, but because it’s mechanics are a breath of fresh air from the otherwise conventional understanding of the genre.

It’s one mode, standard Tetris, no items. Just your own ability tossing garbage at others in a handful of ways. And I’m sure I can hear people even now, grumbling under their breath, “Is that all there is?!” I can tell you as someone who has played a shit ton of Tetris in their lifetime, that’s all there needs to be.

Not to say that there isn’t actual strategy involved. With control of the right stick you get four ways to send your garbage. At the start it defaults to random, which keeps your distance from any real engaging. Attackers, another option that is exactly how it sounds, you send garbage to anyone highlighting you. KO, goes for anyone with the highest number of Knockouts and Badges attacks anyone with the highest amount of badges.

But that last one is the gimmick of this game. The more KOs you get the more badges you receive. The more badges you have, the higher the percentage of garbage you get to send to your opponents. Something that is especially threatening in the late game and might make your game of skill in to a chance of luck. If you’re not already bombarding your opponents, in the last 20 placements, with garbage, then you sure as shit better hope you’re fast enough to get yourself out of a hopefully easy well.

But I have to stop myself here for a second and ask the question, what does this have to do with Battle Royale games and me? If you’ve watched me stream ever, you know I play a lot of Overwatch. I’ve grown a lot in my own ability, I’m fairly good at shooting the gun, but not when it comes to aiming the gun. You figure I would have some sort of general idea on how the game works. But my ability in Overwatch doesn’t actually translate all that well into other shooters. OW feels different from Battlefield feels different from CS:GO feels different from Apex. And part of my frustration with playing the next big Battle Royale game is that they all feel different from each other and yet, there’s a disconnect that comes from the fact they’re all really the same thing.

[Me, an intellectual.]
[Me, an intellectual.]

A lot of those games have to do with how fast a person can get to the items, and how good their aim is. I’m sure there more to it, but there’s far more people out there that I do not feel as though I’m on equal footing. I see that with opponents, and I see that with the friends I play with. In the end, I always question my ability and get frustrated staring at a skill ceiling that isn’t even that high.

This almost sounds like I’m going to start talking about how I’m just better at Tetris than I am a shooter, and I’d be lying to myself if I said that’s not what this blog really is. But I’ve been playing Tetris since the game boy, and universally, it’s been the same game since its inception. (Save for a couple of balance changes to make it much more easier and accessible.) It’s a basic puzzle game that everyone knows how to play. Granted, if you go into this game like every other Battle Royale not really knowing the best way to play, you can take solace in the fact that you all start in the same place, using the same kind of pieces to make the same kind of lines.

I do get excited about playing Tetris, but the point I’m trying to make here is, it’s fascinating to see a puzzle game stand out in a sea of shooters. It’s amazing that someone, somewhere thought it could work. And I hope it could be an example for someone else to come along and ask themselves...

“What is another way we can twist the convention?”

(I played this for an hour till I got the 1st place win.)