The Tetris Effect

I bought Tetris Effect, an uncommon manoeuvre for me. The desire to have more games to play in virtual reality, combined with a strong attachment to the work of Tetsuya Mizuguchi, got the better of me.

The first impression is that something is missing. It is strange to see a celebration that evokes the spirit of the original so little. I was hoping to catch some reference to the iconic music, glimpse some pyrotechnic effect that felt… Russian. Anything, really, that would kindle my memory of afternoons spent in front of my cousin’s Amiga 500, hypnotised by that simple but simultaneously diabolical game.

Instead, this is a celebration of globalism, of Brazilian and African rhythms and of the European disco spirit with which I grew up, with a hint of Asian soundscapes thrown into the mix.

The Tetris game is not the center of attention here; it is the tool which transports us on an audio-visual voyage around the world, through the depths of the ocean, and occasionally beyond the planet. It is a spectacle of sound, visual and cultural metaphors in which the unit of connection is the game Tetris.

And in a way, it makes sense. Tetris is one of the few games that can boast of being a worldwide phenomenon. In its early Nintendo incarnation, it was one of the games that managed to appeal to millions outside that restricted circle of “video game fans.” Even today, few games have achieved such a feat, and if connoisseurs of the art can debate the artistic virtues of such other “for everyone” games, Tetris’ credentials are unshakable. It’s an unforgettable game, unforgettably addictive, and a strong candidate to the title of best game ever.

What better game to take us around the world than one of the few that was played and loved in every country, in every culture?

What Mizuguchi was able to achieve here is what distinguishes him as an artist, as opposed to a mere creator of games. He was able to see beyond the game, its aesthetic and mechanical components, and understand what the game means in a cultural context, in the context of human experience. He then portrayed this very thing in his tribute.

I still miss that Russian iconography and sound. But what a wonderful journey this was.