Tetris 99 is a pleasant surprise, and is my favorite content offered by the Nintendo Switch Online service to date. The idea of playing Tetris against 98 other players at once seems ludicrous but is fun in practice and delivers intense moments just like when you’re among the final few in a battle royale game.
As a competitive and quite frantic game, Tetris 99 is the exact opposite of Tetris Effect. And it's a very good game too. It's not the kind of experience you play to feel more peaceful. When you engage in the only available mode, you want to be the last survivor. And if you're not, you go for another shot. And another. It can last forever because Tetris 99 is just so addictive.
This game has a lot going for it, it is a very creative take on classic tetris, and can be a lot of fun. The battle royale style of play really takes it to a new level. This is also where it falls short. With no ranked based matchmaking system, you can bet that you will be paired with at least one extremely skilled player, and will find yourself getting lucky to last a few minutes. I think it is really impressive how good people can be at this game, but it can be frustrating when I can't play against players at my own level.
Tetris 99 is a textbook example of what I'd call the PUBG-ification of gaming
Nowadays, every single video game needs an obligatory 100 player battle royale mode shoehorned in - just because PUBG and Fortnite became highly successful cash cows.
As a Tetris game it's competent but incredibly lacking in modes. You get battle royale and team battle modes included with your Nintendo Switch Online sub at no additional charge, but have to pay $9.99 for the Big Block DLC if you want CPU battles, local multiplayer and Marathon Mode. The content that Big Block offers is incredibly barebones, to the point where it's only marginally better than the official online version of Tetris that you can play in your browser for free.
CPU battles are insultingly easy to the point where you can easily achieve Tetris Maximus. Only play this for practice or if you really want to stroke your ego.
Marathon mode only has two options... 150 Lines or 999 Lines. The only difference, aside from the obvious number of lines you need to clear, is how quickly the difficulty/game speed ramps up. Both difficulties ramp up the game speed so much near the end that even on Level 1 difficulty, you'll find yourself having to juggle pieces and abuse the game's delayed lock-in mechanic after they've landed to avoid a Game Over.
Team Battle is the game's most relaxed online multiplayer mode. Sadly, the mode itself is barren and devoid of actual players, leading to lengthy queue times, mostly AI opponents and a heavy imbalance of teams.
Tetris 99 mode is incredibly chaotic and cheap. More often than not, you'll be cheesed out by players who luck out with an early combo, stack 20 lines worth of garbage on you, and absolutely crap all over your board. Unless you can play with the speed and precision of a borderline Tetris grandmaster, you will not get much enjoyment out of this game.
If I wanted to get cheesed out of every match, I'd just go reinstall StarCraft II and play a couple of ladder matches...
SummaryThe free to download online software, Tetris® 99, is available as a special offer for Nintendo Switch Online members. In large-scale, 99-player battles, it'll take speed, skill, and strategy to knock out the competition and become the last player standing. You can target opponents by sending them Garbage Blocks, but be careful…your rival...