Review – Tetris 99

I would have never imagined that out of all game developers out there, Nintendo, the same people who still haven’t properly figured out how to come up with a lot of good online multiplayer games or a decent online service, would be the one that would come out with the best Battle Royale game I have ever played. I also would have never imagined that this game would be a Tetris Battle Royale of all things. Then from out of nowhere, the Big N decided to drop Tetris 99 into the world and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Tetris 99 is an online-only Tetris Battle Royale. There’s no other way to explain this game. You play a modern ruleset of Tetris, including features such as holding a piece and being able to spin a tetromino indefinitely when it reaches the floor, all while playing against ninety-eight other players at the same time. Whenever you clear a line, the trash will be sent to someone else. You can either let the game itself choose the victim for you based on a few algorithms, or you can manually choose who you want to attack.


It’s got 99 players but the winner is one.

Controlling the game is as easy as any other Tetris game out there. The controls have largely remained the same ever since the early 80’s and they are as responsive as ever. Then again, people will need to understand that this time around you can only move the pieces with the d-pad, as both the left and right analog sticks are dedicated to choosing the player you’re sending your trash to. The right stick allows you to choose between a few presets, while the left stick allows you to manually choose the player you want to attack, as all 98 player screens are presented at the same time while you play. Given the hectic nature of Tetris 99, I never bothered to manually choose who to attack, instead always choosing to attack who’s currently attacking me.

Honestly, there’s not a lot you should expect from a Tetris game when it comes to graphics and sound, but Tetris 99 does a respectable job in both departments. The visuals are what you would expect from a game like this: simple but colorful. The fact that the framerate is always at a constant 60fps even though there are literally 99 games of Tetris being shown onscreen is actually pretty impressive though. It’s even more impressive that this is an online game made by Nintendo that doesn’t lag at all.

The soundtrack is comprised of that same old Tetris song from the 1989 Game Boy release. It’s a cliché, without a doubt, but it works. The developers have also decided to remix that song into something I would expect from an Armin Van Buuren set at Tomorrowland, not a Nintendo game. The song’s tempo gets faster with time, making the match even more chaotic.

I have no doubt that Tetris 99 was conceived to convince people to subscribe to Nintendo’s paid online service, as it’s a completely free game devoid of microtransactions, but also devoid of single-player content, requiring an online subscription to be enjoyed. I don’t blame them. In fact, I salute them for their decision. Nintendo didn’t just come up with a half-baked product in order to entice consumer interest, they came up with one of the greatest iterations of Tetris and the coolest Battle Royale game I have ever played. Tetris 99 showed up from out of nowhere and it’s now one of my favorite games from 2019 so far.


Graphics: 7.0

It’s the typical art style you would expect from a Tetris game, with the addition of 98 other screens playing the game at the same time, at a constantly high framerate.

Gameplay: 9.0

It uses the more modern Tetris rules, such as being able to hold a piece for later. The controls are as excellent as most Tetris games, but the game’s usage of the analog sticks might confuse players at first.

Sound: 7.5

The classic Tetris theme song in very techno-infused remix. Thirty years later, that song is still great.

Fun Factor: 10

Tetris and Battle Royale are a match made in freaking heaven, purely and simply. Plus, it’s free.

Final Verdict: 9.0

Tetris 99 is available now on Switch.

Reviewed on Switch.