Tetris Effect: Connected producer Mark MacDonald was remarkably candid when he explained the idea behind this multiplayer-enhanced version of Tetsuya Mizuguchi’s excellent sensory Tetris experience. “We didn’t do multiplayer at the time [Tetris Effect was originally released] because we didn’t have a good idea.” He added that they tried working on it, but what they came up with was “pretty standard” and didn’t fit Effect’s escape-y, chill vibe, and so they asked themselves, “Why are we doing this?” and then they cut it.

Fast forward a bit, though, and a good idea did strike from a unique source of inspiration: the Classic Tetris World Championship in Portland. Seeing that score-based competition, MacDonald said, helped lead to the five multiplayer modes that differentiate Connected from the core Tetris Effect (which is here in its entirety, by the way. Oh, and it runs at 4K/60fps on the Series X, while it’s 1080p/30fps on Xbox One S and 1080p/60fps on Xbox One X). Let’s take a quick look at each one.

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The first mode is Zone Battle. Here, when you clear lines it sends garbage blocks to the other person, but you can freeze time to stop garbage blocks from coming in. That leads to some interesting strategic options. Do you let your opponent zone first, and play defense, or do you push the attack to try and put them back on their heels?

Score Attack – the game type most directly inspired by the Classic Tetris World Championship – might be my favorite of the group. You’re effectively playing separate, synchronized single-player games, and the person with the highest score wins. It’s straightforward, but exhilarating – particularly when one person tops out and the other person has two minutes to try and beat their score.

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Classic Score Attack, meanwhile, replicates the championship competition rules almost identically by forcing both participants to play by the rules of the classic Nintendo version. No sight lines for you as you drop your Tetriminos! I had the privilege of getting my ass handed to me in my demo by Tomohiro “Green Tea” Tatejima, the lead multiplayer designer of Connected who placed third in the 2018 Classic Tetris World Championship.

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Connected, on the other hand, is what MacDonald describes as “the most out there, crazy, swing-for-the-fences new mode.” It’s a three-player co-op mode in which you team up to take down an AI boss. When all three of your matrices combine and you are all working together on one big playing field, it’s…pretty damn cool, I have to say. This is easily Connected’s most unique game type.

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Finally, Connected Versus is, as the name implies, the same mode, except a human player takes the role of the boss. MacDonald tells me that this will only be available one day per week, as pitting players against each other so fiercely somewhat goes against the aforementioned relaxing, mellow vibe that Tetris Effect intentionally pursues.

Tetris Effect: Connected, whether you pick it up for $40 or download it as part of your Xbox Game Pass subscription, is likely to be one of those games that always lives on your hard drive. You can pick it up and enjoy it for a few minutes at a time if you want to unwind, or, in the case of Connected’s multiplayer modes, compete or cooperate in a decidedly Tetris way.

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Ryan McCaffrey is IGN’s Executive Editor of Previews. Follow him on Twitter at @DMC_Ryan, catch him on Unlocked, and drop-ship him Taylor Ham sandwiches from New Jersey whenever possible.
Source: IGN Video Games All
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