The Scotsman Games review: Tetris Ultimate

A solid if frills free incarnation of an historic puzzler

The Tetris formula is not tinkered with in Ultimate. Picture: Contributed
The Tetris formula is not tinkered with in Ultimate. Picture: Contributed

Tetris Ultimate

Platform: Xbox One (reviewed) / Playstation 4 / PS Vita / Nintendo 3DS / PC

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Score: 6/10

OVER three decades have passed since Alexey Pajitnov developed a simple but devilishly effective puzzle game. From the Soviet Union, the resultant title - Tetris (the Greek word for four) proved a sensation, startling all who saw it at CES in 1988 and inspiring a few savvy individuals draw up a series of lucrative licensing arrangements that would bring it out of Russia and into markets the world over.

Although some iterations of the game has enjoyed greater success than others - for many, the Gameboy version will forever be the definitive one - it is a process that continues to this day. Some have tried, with varying success, to tinker with Pajitnov’s formula, but Tetris is at its best when it abides by the same elegant design of 1984 - variously shaped tetrominos and a blank grid that becomes cluttered all too quickly.

The budget title has involving modes that don’t try to reinvent the original

Ubisoft, the latest publisher to keep the flame alive, opt for the latter approach in a budget price digital title. The numerous modes on offer will be instantly recognisable to anyone who has played the game before (and let’s face it, who hasn’t?). There are Endless and Marathon options as well as Ultra, a quick fire way to play that asks you to score as much as possible in the space of 180 seconds.

It is possible to fine tune some of the settings, so that you can determine how long the rotation of tetromino lasts for and choose whether you are able to keep a spare tetromino in reserve for the most apposite time. The customisation is not extensive, but it allows you to meddle around and find a set up that suits. This is a proudly retro take on Tetris and encourages you to play again and again in the hope of beating your high scores.

Lag is an issue online although hopefully bugs will be ironed out

Ubisoft’s update also features a variety of online modes, but over the course of two days we struggled to join games with any consistency. The matches that successfully paired us with a real-life competitor were beset by lag, a major hurdle in a game that demands prompt, real time updates, although hopefully some of the bugs will be ironed out with a patch.

For the price - £7.99 on Xbox One - this is a solid if unspectacular title, although buying it on such a platform remain questionable when it is available for mobiles and tablets for a fraction of that tag. But then, this is a title that has made the transition to calculators, not just consoles, and has always found an audience. As always, the classic Tetris gameplay speaks for itself.


The T-shaped tetrominos are a crucial way of building up combos and clearing awkward lines. Look out for spaces where they can fit and learn to spin the shape around.

For big scoring combinations, try to build up rows of blocks on either side of the grid and drop tetrominos into the middle. Take care not to stack too high, though, or you’ll be in trouble

Take some time to explore the modest customisation options so that you are playing a version of Tetris you are most comfortable with.