The Long Journey To The Fantastic Tetris Effect

I talked to Mark MacDonald and Tetsuya Mizuguchi about the journey to Tetris Effect and the inspiration behind it.

Tetris Effect is the next game from Enhance, the game studio run by Tetsuya Mizuguchi that created Rez Infinite and Lumines Remastered.


Mizuguchi has been trying to create his own take on Tetris since the early 2000s. Fortunately for me, he wasn’t able to pull it off in those days, which resulted in the creation of one of my favorite games of all time: Lumines for the PSP. Fifteen years and a couple of console generations later, we have Tetris Effect, a trippy take on the classic formula that even has an optional virtual reality component with PlayStation VR. It’ll be available November 9.

We also dive deep into the mechanics and I play the game’s “Master” mode.

I got a chance to play a near-final build of Tetris Effect a little while back, and Mizuguchi was on hand alongside Enhance’s Mark MacDonald to not only answer all of my questions about the game but to witness my Tetris mastery in person.

Along with the zen-like “Journey” mode that takes players on a ride through different themed levels that ramp up and slow down the speed of the falling blocks, Tetris Effect also has a “zone” mode that, during my demo, let me either get out of a jam or rack up points by freezing the screen and letting me clear lines and push it all down to the bottom to focus on fixing any errors.

Another mode tasked me with clearing a specific horizontal line and not worrying about creating a perfect stack, while another had me “purifying” an infected matrix by concentrating on clearing specific lines in time before the infection spread further.

There was even a hilarious ”Mystery” mode that threw giant blocks at me and flipped the board upside down in a random sequence of wacky challenges that feel like welcome additions to the formula.

You can also watch the videos on YouTube here.

I’ll be jumping into the game more when it’s finally out and giving more in-depth thoughts later.

Video Producer, Kotaku. Fluent in Spanglish. Tetris Master. Streamer. Host of The Optional Podcast.


Painkiller Mike

I gave the demo a shot this weekend and while at times it was visually stunning, I found it to be way too distracting and the music is not my cup of tea. Fifteen minutes in and I started having a headache and I forced myself to lose. The whole time I kept thinking to myself “I’d rather play the NES version or the DS one or fuck the very first game on the Gameboy (original hardware with toilet colors)”. This new one isn’t for me.  Maybe it’s better in VR but I’m not interested in making that investment. Not yet. VR is not ready for prime time. Maybe when it goes fully wireless.