Tetris: Axis iPhone Review

Tetris is great for every occasion, so it's no surprise that Electronic Arts created a version for iPhone, and it's less of a surprise that it's good. Alexey Pajitnov's classic block falling game has captivated millions and it's just as enthralling here. EA manages to make an ancient concept fresh with a sweet presentation and cool touch screen controls. It's the game's price and its tendency to crash, however, that keeps it from being the phone's best puzzle game.

By now, Tetris' concept should be as normal to you as breathing, but just in case you never played it, the goal is to line up blocks of various shapes in horizontal rows to make them disappear. Eliminate four or more at once, and you achieve a Tetris and score more points. In addition, you have the option of changing a block's position as it fall from the top of screen, allowing you to decide where it winds up and how, allowing you to easily fit pieces together. Naturally, blocks fall faster depending on how far you get, so the game grows difficult after several minutes of play. If just one block reaches the top of the screen, it's game over.

In order to spruce up Tetris for the new generation (or just old folks like us looking for something fresh), EA added an attractive presentation that features good music and light special effects in the background, such as stars slowly moving behind the playfield. The game's coolest addition, however, are its touch screen controls, which let you slide pieces around the board and place them with your fingertips. Even better, you don't need to place your finger directly on the puzzle piece; you can slide and change its positioning (tap the screen) from anywhere. Bottom line, this is a heck of lot more enjoyable than using a d-pad. Actually, the only time it fails is when we speed up the puzzle pieces. If you're impatient, you have the option of quickly dropping a block into place by swiping the iPhone's screen. That's fine when it's an easy fit, but not nearly as effective when you need to do something tricky, such as drop a piece and slide it left or right in order to make it fit with the other block.

We're also not too keen on the game's $9.99 price. By now, any form of Tetris should be no more than $5. Besides, even with this mild facelift, it's not like EA pumped the game full of modes. You get Marathon, where you complete 15 stages, and Magic, which allows you to clear specific objectives while using items, such as bubble wrap that lets you pop some blocks or a vice that squeezes them. It's a neat idea, but not worth a ten spot.

That said, Tetris is one of the oldest, most enjoyable puzzle games and EA did a good job bringing it to iPhone. It needed some additional modes and it very occasionally crashed on us (forcing a reboot, though we're not sure if it's the game or our abused phones), but if you love Tetris and/or need a puzzle game for iPhone, it's a solid pick-up.

What's Hot: Great touch screen controls, simple but sharp looking graphics, slick presentation, same addictive gameplay.

What's Not: Occasionally crashes, $9.99 for Tetris is silly.