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Hatris Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Rating: 10%
  1. 1988
  2. 1989
  3. 1990
  4. 1991
  5. 1992
Hatris
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  • Review Score:

  • D-
My heart goes out to Alexey Pajitnov; it really does. After developing Tetris, the world's most famous puzzle maker was expected to come up with something just as good. It's not easy to top Tetris, something that has been borne out by two decades of failed attempts.
But I have some bad news for everybody's favorite Russian developer; even if Tetris wasn't in the picture, Hatris would still be a miserable failure.

Hatris involves two hats falling from the sky. It is your job to match up enough of these hats (which include top hats, beanies, crowns, dunce caps, etc.) in order to make them disappear. Some hats take up very little room whiles others (like the top hat) will take up more space than you would like. You can switch the direction the hats are falling in, but you will always need to drop the hats together which can lead to some sticky situations.

Hatris (Game Boy)

Part of what makes a game like Tetris so compelling is that it has a risk/reward mechanic. Sure you can spend your time clearing one or two lines at once, but everybody knows that the big points are rewarded for clearing all four. But doing that forces the player to be patient, something that could ultimately end in a game over screen. But that risk is what is so intoxicating about Tetris. It forces you to start to make bets on your own playing, keeping you engaged in an already exciting exercise of space management.

Hatris doesn't have that level of depth. There's no way to get combo points or earn the equivalent of a tetris (four lines being erased at once). Instead you just stack the hats ever higher; waiting for that time when you can buy the power-up that eliminates a certain hat from the board. There's nothing in this game pushing you to do better, which is part of the reason why Hatris is so boring.

Hatris (Game Boy)

It doesn't help that most of the time laying down hats is too easy. I was able to go more than a half hour on my first attempt, rarely feeling any sense of panic or urgency. It was fun seeing new hats show up, but that wasn't enough to keep me engaged with this otherwise rote puzzle game.

If you strip away the hat gimmick, Alexey's follow-up is nothing more than a shallow color-matching game. The problem is that you can only match stacked hats, nothing diagonal or side by side. That alone keeps the excitement dialed back. You know something is wrong when even Columns is a deeper puzzle experience. Don't let the Alexey Pajitnov name fool you, Hatris is as far away from Tetris as one can possibly get.
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