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Tetris: What Did Critics Say in 1989?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on May 28, 2014   |   Episode 48 (Show Archive)  

   

Tetris (Game Boy)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

Tetris is one of the greatest games of all time. Not only is it a perfect puzzle game, but it launched a genre that we're still dealing with today. But did critics think Tetris was that important back when it first came out, or was it dismissed for not being a 2D shooter? We dig through Electronic Gaming Monthly, CVG and Nintendo Power for the answer.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

Tetris
[ Company: Nintendo | Console: Game Boy ]

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #5
8 out of 10

"Tetris is the perfect game for Game Boy. One which you can't finish, yet remains constantly absorbing throughout. Difficulty increases at a progressive rate and never quite becomes entirely masterable [sic]. The two-player mode shows off the Video Link like nothing else." -Steve

COMPUTER + VIDEO GAMES #96
95% out of 100%

"It started on some huge romm-filling monstrosity in the USSR, made its way through the Iron Curtain to the West, jumped up to the arcade level, and now Tetris, the smash puzzle game, finally appears on the Game Boy. Tetris has come a long way since its conception in Russia, and even now retains its hellishly addictive qualities. Buy it or feel very silly."

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #5
7 out of 10

"The perfect portable game. Believe it or not, the GameBoy version has the best play of all the versions. The two-player Video Link is good, but a cooperative option (like in the Tengen version) would have been nice. Be warned, Tetris is VERY addicting." -Martin

NINTENDO MAGAZINE SYSTEM #1
95% out of 100%

"@BOXTEXT:Gameboy, this puzzle game is absolutely terrific and unbelievably addictive. It's incredibly easy to get into and is one of the best Gameboy games yet seen."

ELECTRONIC GAMING MONTHLY #5
8 out of 10

A fascinating game for puzzle lovers. One of the best for GameBoy. The 2-Player version is outstanding and the second 25-line mode makes it easy to play a quick game by yourself. With nine speed settings and five handicaps, Tetris is the perfect match for anyone." -Ed
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 83% - Electronic Gaming Monthly sure does use the word "perfect" a lot. All four EGM critics (including the three posted above) use that word to describe Tetris, yet the highest they gave the game is an 8. I agree, Tetris is perfect, which is why Martin's 7 is an outrage. Not only does he say the Game Boy version has the "best play of all the versions," but he also notes that it's "VERY addicting!" And yet, without a single bad thing to say about Tetris, he gives one of the best games of all time a 7.

Thankfully the two UK magazines are coming to the rescue, though they do more harm than good. CVG spends most of their review talking about Russia and concludes with this baffling line: "Buy it or feel very silly." Why would you feel silly if you didn't buy Tetris? And isn't it a pack-in game? And then there's Nintendo Magazine System, who inexplicably addresses the review to "@BOXTEXT" a couple decades before Twitter. (FYI: @BOXTEXT is a real person on Twitter with about a thousand followers.)

HOW DO YOU SPELL GAME BOY? There are three different magazines and three different spellings of the name "Game Boy." Electronic Gaming Monthly spells it "GameBoy," writing it as one word and capitalizing the "B." Nintendo Magazine System spells it "Gameboy," which leaves the "B" lowercase. And then there's Computer + Video Games, who spells it "Game Boy." So who's right? According to Nintendo's own advertising, it's spelled "Game Boy," two words.

ON FRIDAY'S EPISODE: We're going from one launch game to another. On Friday we'll take a look at the Super Nintendo's first racing game, F-Zero. Did the critics like this game more than Pilotwings, or were they turned off by the high-speed gameplay? Find out this Friday when the Review Crew takes a look at F-Zero on Super NES. Make sure and check out the Review Crew archive for more old school reviews, and don't forget to tweet me @DefunctGames to let me know what games you want to see next!

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