Tetris is one of the ultimate universal video game pleasures. Everyone knows how to play Tetris, some can even claim to master it. Either way, it's fun to play in just about any incarnation and EA is aiming to bring out people's primal competitive instincts with a new iOS version of the classic puzzle game. Tetris Blitz offers up enough of a bite-sized chunk of the game to scratch the normal Tetris itch, but the gaggle of in-app purchases prevents it from setting a high score.
Unlike other versions of the game, Tetris Blitz is solely played in two-minute spurts. The idea is to compete against your friends and against players around the world for the highest score, with leaderboards resetting themselves every week. Unlike traditional Tetris games, blocks are already set on the field and players must work with what they're given.
Since only touch controls are available, blocks are laid out by tapping one of a number of available moves. On one hand, it's easy and intuitive enough that anyone can pick up and play, regardless of skill level. However, Tetris Blitz does not lay out every possible move available, which will drive experts crazy. There's no room to think outside the box, in case you want to lay a block in a different, potentially more strategic position. There's a button to flip blocks, but the options often won't look much more enticing. In fact, I've gone a majority of my two-minute sessions without using the flip button at all.
One area where no strategy is required is Frenzy Mode, which activates after clearing enough lines to fill the Frenzy meter. Frenzy Mode is a manic sequence that, in addition to higher scoring power, dislodges Tetris blocks, which can lead to high chains and combos. This is one of the cooler additions to the traditional Tetris formula, as the art style gets warped, the music speeds up, and the overall pace gets frantic.
Players can boost their scores by using a number of power-ups, including lasers that eliminate three lines, multipliers, and time boosters. They can also add to their scores through a number of finishers, most of which obliterate a chunk of the screen. For example, one finisher showers the screen with Tetrimino blocks, which clears most of the screen simultaneously and results in a six-digit bonus. These powerups and finishers are often the only way to make a dent in the crowded leaderboards.
Unfortunately, EA is awfully devious when it comes to powerups and finishers. Players will get access to many of these buffs for free when starting out and they make quite an impression. I was stunned by how quickly I was able to rack up half a million points after deploying a finisher. However, that preview period is very fleeting and you're soon thrust back down to the land of Tetris mortals. To taste the godly power of finishers and powerups again, you either need to spend an outrageous amount of in-game coins (finishers usually start at 30,000 coins) or pay real money. Considering this is the only real way to compete on the leaderboards, it's a steep price to pay.
More competitive players that want to flex their T-block-shaped muscles will likely feel put off by the's "pay to win" spirit of Tetris Blitz's in-app purchases. For them, there are different incarnations of the classic out there that will help fill that competitive urge. More casual players who simply want a fun, quick game of Tetris will find a lot to like about Tetris Blitz, which proves itself to be one of the more user-friendly iOS versions I've experienced to date. 
This Tetris Blitz review was based on copy of the game downloaded by the reviewer, and tested on a third-generation iPad and third-generation iPod Touch. The game is a universal app available now on the App Store.
Ozzie Mejia posted a new article, Mobile review: Tetris Blitz.
Tetris Blitz is a fun, casual interpretation of the classic puzzle game, but competitive players won't appreciate the "pay to win" spirit of the in-app purchases.