Across multiple decades, there isn’t a puzzle game with as big a reach as Tetris. The falling-block puzzle game has sold hundreds of millions since Russian engineer Alexey Pajitnov developed the franchise in 1979. Thanks to its easy, pick-up-and-play (but hard to master) game mechanics, it immediately became a timeless hit.
Then there’s the classic music, including “Korobeiniki,” which was first introduced in the bestselling 1989 Nintendo Game Boy version that’s been an audio mainstay since. However, there’s a fascinating history behind the game that involves an epic copyright battle over Pajitnov’s groundbreaking creation.
“Stan & Ollie” director Jon S. Baird is adapting that story for an original film simply called “Tetris.” Launching today (March 31) on Apple TV+, the film features such notable stars as Henk Rogers (“The Kingsman”) and Toby Jones (Harry Potter films), among others. If you’ve been living under a rock — or just want to reintroduce yourself with Tetris ahead of watching the movie — here are all the ways to play the puzzler right now.
Nintendo Switch, PS4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC, Meta Quest
Originally released exclusively for PlayStation 4 in late 2018, Tetris Effect has seen many ports across various consoles and virtual reality platforms. Beyond offering standard Tetris gameplay, it’s also a dreamlike experience with audio and visuals that respond to your play in real time. The game is co-developed by Enhance, a studio known for games with experimental audio/visual design such as Rez and Lumines. It’s also the first Tetris game to make the transition over to virtual reality, as PSVR, PSVR 2, Steam VR and Meta Quest users can play the game in its full glory.
Beyond the synesthesia-like presentation, Tetris Effect features a Zone ability that stops time to make clearing lines easier. The mechanic comes in handy when tetrominos stack up enough for a game over. There’s also a leveling system that will lead to unlocking more challenges and various online multiplayer modes.
An enhanced version titled Tetris Effect: Connected was eventually delivered as a free update for existing owners alongside Xbox Series and Nintendo Switch ports. Specific to this version is a cooperative multiplayer mode alongside competitive options that are more in line with official tournament play.
Since the beginning of modern mobile gaming, there’s been a version of Tetris to play on your phone. The most current official version developed by PlayStudios Inc. allows players to play through hundreds of levels featuring various challenges, score-based rounds and infinite marathon mode. There’s also a leveling system found in this edition alongside daily challenges for experience points and rewards. Though not available yet, there is an online mode called Teams in the works as well.
Thanks to your phone's touchscreen, there are options including touch sensitivity sliders, on-screen control options and left-handed controls too. This helps Tetris on mobile be a bit more intuitive compared to using a controller.
As a free-to-play game, Tetris mobile offers plenty of microtransactions. Players who want to go a month without intrusive in-game ads can stop them for $2.99. There are also coins that can be purchased for customizing various things such as your background. Those coin packages will run potential buyers between $2 and $25.
Nintendo Switch, PS4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PC
Puyo Puyo Tetris is a crossover collaboration series between two popular puzzle video games that began in 2014. The original game allowed players to choose between Puyo Puyo and Tetris styles of gameplay in addition to modes like Swap and Fusion that allows a blending of both. Puyo Puyo is more battle-oriented, where players must match four blob-like objects of the same color together to clear the board. It also offered robust single-player story and multiplayer modes as well.
Its sequel, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, features many of the combination, single-player story modes and online multiplayer options of the original with some new additions. The most notable new mode is Skill battles, which feature character-based skills and item cards that can significantly change gameplay. This allows players to choose characters with their own health and magic power, which adds a slick role-playing element to the puzzler.
Nintendo Switch Online
Inspired by battle royale games like Fortnite, the game has players engaging in an online Tetris match against 99 other online players. One of the most frantic games in the puzzle franchise, Tetris 99 allows players to fill their opponents' boards by clearing lines — while also looking out for any garbage sent their way.
The game gives you the choice to target certain opponents, or have the computer decide for you. Part of the strategy has players keeping up with their own board while watching players who are struggling. In addition to leveling up and unlocking items, players can also enter occasional Maximus Cup events that let you earn special themed backgrounds inspired by everything from Mario to Fire Emblem.
Tetris 99 is free for anyone with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription, though there is also downloadable content available. The $10 Big Block DLC features a traditional marathon mode, a bot battle, local multiplayer and two-player share battle that lets two players compete against each other as well as the CPU.