DEVELOPER: Sega Amusements
PUBLISHER: Sega Amusements
RELEASE: Early 2011
PLAYERS: 1-2 players simultaneous; co-op or competitive
HARDWARE: Sega Ringwide
ARCADE EXCLUSIVE?: Yes
RATING: Green label – Suitable for All Ages
REGION AVAILABILITY: Worldwide
From the flyer:
“Tetris the biggest block buster game ever, named one of the top 100 games of all time is now giant sized!”
Review: By Adam “ArcadeHero” Pratt
One genre that is perfect for arcades but has been sorely lacking through the years is the puzzle game. They are easy to learn, difficult to master and are fun. So it was welcome news that Sega was bringing Tetris back to arcades with a new twist. Tetris has been in arcades in some form since the 80s when both Sega and Atari Games released their own versions of the original, which was followed up later with Tetris variations like The Grand Master for hardcore players.
In Tetris Giant the concept is pretty much the same – take what you get from shapes of different configurations and fit them together to get a solid line or lines across the screen. The line will disappear and as you progress the game gets faster. If any block passes a threshold at the top, its game over. What makes this version different is implies in the name – everything has been blown up in size.
This does take a little getting used to as it does make the game feel a little more cramped as fewer pieces can fit into the playfield than previous versions(only 7 rows to reach the top) but it’s not unplayable. This does mean that the screen can fill up a little quicker so you have to be on your game in expert mode. There are three main modes of play – single, Vs. and Co-Op which work as their names imply. The single player mode has two options, Line Challenge for beginners where your game only ends when time runs out (if the blocks get above the top line, it simply deletes the bottom rows) and Score Challenge which is typical Tetris for experts. Co-op is a welcome addition to that however, giving players an alternative to choose as well as come back to. There are 1000 spots on the high score leaderboards, which is kind of cool, giving players plenty of space to compete on in that regard.
What helps this game stand out aside from the blocks is the hardware. I think that when it comes to puzzle games, doing something a little different with the hardware really helps because puzzle games are easier to mimick on home devices, much more so than other arcade genres. Mimicking that hardware is another story as you aren’t going to get gigantic joysticks for your home or your Xbox 360 unless you build them yourself. The joysticks Sega created for this game are unusual to say the least – imagine a Sanwa stick maybe 20x larger than regular size. The ball tops are about the size of basketballs and they have two large push buttons built into the top for rotating your Tetris blocks. Another nice touch you rarely find in joystick controlled arcade titles these days is force feedback. The stick will shake just a little when a piece drops and it also shakes when a line is dissolved. The feedback is variable, shaking with greater power the more lines you take out. They also have the stick on the right set lower than the one on the left so people of different heights can enjoy it.
Nobody expects a lot out of Tetris games visually as the concept can be run on low-powered 8-bit platforms. This version doesn’t disappoint with it’s colorful blocks and fully animated 3D backgrounds, solid framerate and high resolution. The explosive effect when you get a 4-line Tetris is particularly awesome.
A very cutesy soundtrack accompanies this game which a little bit of Japanese voice acting. A satisfying click accompanies each block connection.
I really like the concept with these joysticks, with the giant size and forcefeedback. There is n area where it takes getting used to however – I’m not used to having to move the joystick so much to move a piece over, which you have to do because of the greater size in the sticks and the blocks.
Originally they showed the game off using a projector based screen design that allowed the game to display as large as a 150″ image on a wall. This was neat but came with a disadvantage in price, where the game was around the $10,000 mark. Sega shelved this design for overseas and came up with a unique 47″ LCD cabinet that uses a polished metal face and some Tetris graphics. Unfortunately the price stayed fairly high which is what I think hurt this game more than anything else – had it been 40-50% less then I imagine it would be easy to find out there. The cabinet does make the game what it is though, making it easy to identify the game and there isn’t anything else quite like it. In fact some Chinese companies have tried copying the control panel design for some of their games so it did something right. Honestly, who does not come across this game and think that they have to try it out just because it’s huge?
You get what you expect out of Tetris, a fun game that will stand the test of time. The extra modes help this one out, especially co-op play and a mode for beginners. It appeals to all ages and people of both sexes and with a huge leaderboard plenty of space for improvement. Only complaint is the cramped space, if there was just a little more space to use I think it would have been perfect, perhaps using a vertically oriented image.
If you like Tetris or puzzle games in general you can’t really go wrong here. Modern arcades need games like this and I applaud Sega for taking the risk on a puzzle game these days that is not a redemption game. I really hope another project like this comes along again soon (Giant multiplayer KLAX? Sign me up!). The only reason I haven’t added this one to the arcade is the price but perhaps in a couple of years there will be one for a good price used. That or I would really like to see another cabinet design, either a kit of some kind or take a page from Golden Tee and create a “pedestal” cabinet at a Golden Tee level price that allows operators to figure out their own HD monitor solution.