I thought we were friends. We would hang out every other night or so, you allowing me to feel the exhiliartion of dominating my fellow man, me outwitting all opposition in a game of geniuses. But then you ganked me.
I would lie awake at night, wondering just how they did it. How was Tetris Friends so good? How had every game I’d ever played started instantaneously, right when I joined? For no sooner had I clicked “Start,” when, miraculously, five weaklings were right on time, offering themselves before my ownage. And how was I so good? Every”friend” I faced fell swiftly to my L-shaped blocks and T-square technique. Well, of course, the only explanation is that those against whom I was playing were those ostricized gamers you hear about, the “casuals.” They were obviously straight off rehibilitation, on parole from their stint with Spider Solitaire, only to find themselves prey to a far more potent drug: Tetris Friends. Of course, not being “real gamers,” I quickly cleared them out like a straight-lined Tetris.
But those were the good old days. The days when we were young, when we were happy and in…whatever…. But then you backstabbed me. Did you think I would take this well, to discover that, I can barely utter it, that you were pre-recorded all along? All along. Everyone I’d fought, everyone I’d KO’d: only a mirage, shadows of actual players. You’d lied to me all along, led me to believe that hundreds of people across the globe wept as I destroyed their spirits. But they never even knew me, neither my existence nor their own defeat. Because I fought only what remained of their games, single-player extravaganzas, through smoke and mirrors, made multiplayer. This wasn’t the Tetris Friends I knew.
And so with great sadness and excitement, I discovered not only your false self, but also the self that you were destined to become: Live. Yes! Live. Glorious, HD, real-time play against actual people, holed up in their cubicles and cafe netbooks. Finally, I could prove my stance as dark overlord of the planet earth; my tyranny hadn’t even begun. That was, until, you freaking backstabbed me again, you double-backstabbing ganker.
I got owned. Bad. And not just once, learning the ropes of this whole “live” shindig, but repeatedly. These were no Spider Solitaire junkies I was playing; they were mass homicide convicts, taking a break from castrizing level impossible AI on computer Chess for some easy kills on the ‘ole web. Both shocked and awed, I fled to my Batcave to huddle in the grime and sob. Why was I losing so very badly? Had I gotten rusty? Was playing pre-recorded opponents that different from the real thing? That one’s partially true, at least. Targeting opponents in pre-recorded matches is random for your opponents, whereas in Tetris Friends Live, targeting is real-time. Players are welcome to gang-own whichever fool they please, which math has proven to be none other than me. But something still wasn’t quite right. I won easily at Tetris Friends before; what had changed?
Finally, it struck me. The lines. The whole point of multiplayer Tetris is force-feeding lines to your opponents’ fields, pushing their line height to the roof and causing them to drop-out. In Tetris Friends single-player, clearing any lines, your own included, automatically cleared the unwanted grey lines below. Tetrises, in particular, swept away a good chunk of grey-line trash. But in Live mode, Tetrises have no effect. Nor do any other line clearing amount. To clear away grey lines, you have to either clear away your bottom-most colored line or clear away the grey lines directly. The lack of an indirect method of clearing grey lines means that your line height is constantly pushed higher and higher, even if your have only one colored line still filled. Additionally, there are no KO’s, only KO. One death, and your down for the count, for good.
I thought single-player Tetris Friends had prepared me for intensity, but Live mode ups the echelon like super-saiyan Optimus at the end of Transformers 2. The game is now more like ten seconds of insanity as you scramble to stay ACTTBAP (as close to the bottom as possible). The luxury of waiting for a straight line is gone, replaced by a frantic clearing of single line after single line. And the KO target timer has slowed as well; good luck waiting fifteen whole seconds for the target to get around to whomever needs KOing most, because that’s about four-billion light-years in Tetris Friends time.
Tetris, we used to be BFF. Now, now I just don’t know anymore. Maybe I can give you a second chance, but you’re going to have to meet me half way, maybe by reinstating the leveling system. I guess in the end, I know that you really care. You’re trying hard to make me happy, and that’s what really matters.