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Tetris 99 Review - I've Got 99 Problems And You're One Of Them

Game Spot Reviews - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 18:47

What can be said about Tetris that hasn't been said already? Well, that depends on the type of Tetris game in question. Tetris Effect changed the conversation around the classic puzzle concept last year by directly tying your actions and the flow of stages to the fluctuating rhythm of an eclectic (and all-around amazing) soundtrack. In the case of the Switch-exclusive Tetris 99, the moment-to-moment gameplay is more immediately recognizable, but a new twist helps it stand out from Tetris games of old: a 99-player last-player-standing competition. It's chaotic, which can work in your favor or lead to moments that feel practically unfair. Thankfully, with the solid gameplay at its foundation and a quick means of getting into a new match, no game of Tetris 99 feels like time wasted.

The competitive aspect of Tetris 99 is something most people are familiar with, albeit based on less ambitious setups. Clear some lines, and a batch of junk lines will appear in a queue next to your opponent's puzzle space. If they can clear lines of their own, the junk-in-waiting can be negated; if no new lines are completed, the weight of your success will bear down on their board and reduce the free space for mid-drop tetrimino trickery.

This straightforward setup has, in the past, been utilized in two-player scenarios. With 99 players competing at once here, all visible next to your puzzle space with lines appearing and disappearing between players every few seconds, your early matches will feel a little confusing.

Somewhat frustratingly, Tetris 99 offers no explanation of its inner workings nor the function of various attack modes you can pick from during a match. You can get really far by simply playing Tetris the way you always have, but an uninformed player will always be at a severe disadvantage. Even though all the info is a quick internet search away, it's disappointing that Tetris 99 is bereft of these details or explanations.

So here it goes: You can influence automated attack patterns using the right analog stick, determining whether your offensive lines get sent to randoms, players attacking you, people near death, or players who have done the most killing in the match. Playing handheld, you can also use the Switch touchscreen to target players manually. Less intuitively, when playing docked, the left analog stick can be used to cycle through the phalanx of players on either side of your screen.

The control given to you by most of these options can be used in strategic ways, but none more so than by attacking killers, AKA the "badges" option. It's named thusly because killing a player nets you a portion of a badge and, better yet, any belonging to the defeated player. These badges enhance the output of your attacks, throwing more lines per combo and making the final moments of a match a living hell for your opponents. With the increasing speed of a Tetris 99 match, manually picking your targets based on small icons is an expert's game, so these automated attack profiles are ultimately to your benefit, even if they aren't explained well and could potentially be a source of confusion for new players.

The beauty of Tetris 99 is the tried-and-true game at the center of it all. Tetris is a god among games, and competitive Tetris only enhances the rising tension of a match. Tetris 99, being a game with so many competitors and a default "random" attack pattern, means that you will inevitably enter matches where the odds feel stacked against you from the beginning with no rhyme or reason. And when that happens, you may find that you have no recourse with a screen full of junk lines.

Even though each loss isn't always a lesson learned, it's also just a small roadblock, as a new match is generally seconds, rather than minutes, away. Simply hold down a button to start a search for new players, and watch the screen fill up with opponents in the blink of an eye. There may come a time when the countdown clock expires and matches have less than 99 players, but at launch, that is a very rare occurrence.

Tetris 99 may not be a proper battle royale game, but it taps into the same emotional well, where a large number of players vying for supremacy creates an ever-present intensity that's difficult to shake. Add that layer to a game that's plenty capable of instilling tension on its own, and you've got a riveting experience that even at its worst is still a game very much worth playing. There's obvious room for improvement, but that's the last thing on your mind when the pieces start falling and the players start dropping.

To the Moon! SpaceX to Launch Israeli Lunar Lander (and More) on Thursday

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 18:45
SpaceX will launch an Israeli robotic lunar lander during the company's Falcon 9 rocket launch tomorrow (Feb. 21). If the lander succeeds, this will be the first privately funded moonshot to reach the lunar surface.

Meet Hippocamp! Neptune's Smallest Moon Has a Name (and a Violent Past)

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 18:25
A faint and frigid little moon doesn't have to go by "Neptune XIV" anymore. Astronomers have given a name - "Hippocamp" - to the most recently discovered moon of Neptune, which also formerly went by S/2004 N1.

Recycled tires may help concrete take the heat

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 17:50
Although concrete doesn't burn, it can "spall" when subjected to extreme heat - this means that surface layers of the material explosively break off, potentially causing structures made from it to collapse.

Ingredients for water could be made on surface of moon, a chemical factory

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 17:17
When a stream of charged particles known as the solar wind careens onto the Moon's surface at 450 kilometers per second (or nearly 1 million miles per hour), they enrich the Moon's surface in ingredients that could make water, NASA scientists have found.

Israel could become fourth country to reach the moon with space shot this week

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 17:00
TEL AVIV - Israel is aiming to become the fourth country to land a spacecraft on the moon with the scheduled launch Thursday from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Nephew, 5, inspires hairdresser's Spargoland 'sensory' salon

Health News BBC - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 08:08
A hairdresser says his five-year-old nephew, who has cerebral palsy, inspired his specialist salon.

NASA's New Mars InSight Weather Station Detects Bizarre Infrasound

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 06:59
NASA's first 24 hour Mars weather station has detected an unexplained, low-frequency infrasound. The infrasound was detected some 72 hours ago as it swept past a suite of detectors atop the InSight Mission lander, Cornell University planetary scientist ...

Keen stargazers enthralled with super moon

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 06:54
According to NASA, a super moon occurs when the moon's orbit is closest to the earth and also coincides with a full moon. Tuesday's night supermoon is the closest it will get to the Earth's orbit this year - approximately 360,000km.

China space ambitions move into higher orbit with solar-powered space station

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 06:46
Following its successful venture to the far side of the Moon, China's space ambitions are moving into a higher orbit. The Chinese space agency will now be focusing to build a solar-powered space station.

NASA developing models to predict conflicts among crew members for manned Mars missions

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 06:25
Scientists are studying the behaviour of analogue astronaut crews on mock missions, complete with isolation, sleep deprivation, specially designed tasks and mission control.

State & Union: This month's supermoon biggest of the year

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 06:24
This month's full supermoon, which peaked earlier Tuesday, resulted from this month's full moon coincides with the point in orbit in which the moon is closest to Earth, according to the Old Farmer's Almanac.

6 signs of climate change and why it's already here

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 01:44
Scientists first became aware of a potentially warming world as far back as the 1970s, and the alarm bells really began sounding in the early 2000s, but no decisive action by the governments of the world's biggest carbon polluters, like the U.S.

Guy gets tattoo to honor NASA's Opportunity rover, but there's one big problem

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 01:08
NASA's Opportunity rover had a long, eventful stay on Mars, but unfortunately those days are now behind us. The rover has been officially declared dead after a dust storm last year caused its batteries to remain dry and cold, preventing it from waking ...

Wallace Broecker, 87, Dies; Sounded Early Warning on Climate Change

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 00:42
Dr. Wallace S. Broecker, one of the first scientists to sound the alarm about climate change and the researcher who popularized the term “global warming,” died on Monday in Manhattan.

Wallace Broecker, who helped popularize term 'global warming,' dies at 87

Google Science Feeds - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 00:10
Wallace S. Broecker, a geochemist who issued early warnings on global warming - a term he helped popularize in the 1970s - and later developed a sweeping, widely accepted model for how the oceans circulate heat and affect Earth's climate, died Feb.

Asthma: Young people in the UK 'more likely to die'

Health News BBC - Wed, 02/20/2019 - 00:00
The UK lags behind other wealthy nations across a number of health indicators, a report finds.

China announces plans to build a solar power station in space

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 22:32
China is looking to build the first ever solar power station in space and has announced plans to send a one-megawatt solar facility into orbit by 2030.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch: What you need to know about Israel's lunar lander

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 21:20
As a Falcon 9 rocket blasts off the ground Thursday night, an Israeli spacecraft flying as a secondary payload will commence its quarter-million mile journey to the lunar surface.

Sloan Foundation taps 19 UC faculty as rising stars in science

Google Science Feeds - Tue, 02/19/2019 - 20:15
Nineteen faculty from seven different University of California campuses have been named 2019 Sloan Research Fellows, a distinguished annual award that recognizes early-career scientists and scholars.

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