Tetris 99 – Where we hard droppin’ boys?

When Nintendo announced during their February 13 Direct presentation that they would be releasing not just ANOTHER Tetris game, it was going to be a battle royale game. I felt some strange combination of skepticism and curiosity. A Tetris battle royal game? This is one of the games they were excited to announce?( This was before we all saw the teaser for the Link’s Awakening remake also”. Nintendo released the game shortly after the presentation for free for Switch Online subscribers; they can certainly use more features to beef up their online service(which vastly needs it…). I thought “sure, sounds interesting….and free” and I do not regret it one bit, it’s already one of my favorite Switch titles. I’ve been having a blast playing this!

There probably aren’t too many out there who haven’t played a Tetris game in one way or another, as it is available in about every way there is to play. Tetris was first released in the Soviet Union in June 1984 but did not become a world-wide phenomenon until it was bundled with the original Nintendo Game Boy in 1989. It has since been inducted into the World Video Game Hall of Fame in 2015. https://www.museumofplay.org/press/releases/2015/06/2108-2015-world-video-game-hall-fame-inductees-announced

The basic gameplay of Tetris 99 is exactly the same as the multiplayer mode we know and love, but with a couple unique twists on it. First, it’s you versus 99 other online players trying to be the “last one standing”. Second, you can send your completed lines or “garbage” to another player to add to their screen. This is similar to standard multiplayer mode, except in typical battle royale fashion you can be playing with nothing happening and then all of a sudden, you’re being attacked from every angle. The game keeps track of your KO’s – opponents you have knocked from the match and you can also target other players by selecting one of the modes at the top of the screen. You can sort by KO – you attack another player who is closest to being knocked out, Attackers – you…um…attack the players who are currently targeting you, Badges – you attack players with the most in-match badges or essentially the Top Player(s) in the round, and then there’s Random – you send your garbage to completely random players.

You can see all the other online players you are competing against, including those attacking you and the ones you are attacking

Tetris 99 is equally tense and exhilarating, and just get to the final 25 or even 10, 5 players and it is just as, if not more stressful than the final couple squads in any other battle royale game. I have already spent over between 5-10 hours playing Tetris trying to outplay the other 98 online opponents and I still plan to put in plenty more. I cannot recommend this enough to anyone who is currently paying for the Switch Online service.

Keep rotating those blocks!

Apex Legends – No Titans, no problem

There are 8 playable characters you can choose, though the characters Caustic and Mirage initially need to be unlocked

Any given week I’m usually playing several different games, however the past couple weeks most of my time spent playing games has been playing Apex Legends and with over 8 million players in the first 48 hours after launch, a sizable portion of the online gaming community has been too(understatement). 

Apex Legends was launched completely unaware by just about everyone two weeks ago on the date. I awoke Monday February 4 to read news that Respawn Entertainment had announced their newest project; a class based battle royale shooter “set in the Titanfall universe” and was launching immediately. I have to admit I was unsure what to think upon hearing the announcement as I, along with many others were hoping for news of Titanfall 3. I absolutely loved Titanfall 2 and regard it as one of my favorite first-person shooters I’ve ever played, alongside games like Goldeneye, Halo, and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare. As mixed…well…generally negative feelings as I have for EA, I wanted to support Respawn and give Apex Legends a chance. 

The premise of Apex Legends is standard battle royal fare, (drops, shrinking area of play, random weapons scattered throughout map) but with 8 class-based “Legends” to select from at the beginning of the match. I find the class-based angle interesting in a battle royale game, as each character has different abilities to use throughout the match. Each character has a passive, tactical, and an ultimate ability. This being similar to Overwatch…I’m curious to know how long Blizzard has been contemplating creating a BR mode for Overwatch?

I have been playing Apex Legends for two weeks now and so far I have been very impressed. My favorite aspect of the gameplay would probably have to be the Smart Comms system, where you simply tap a button to point out or “ping” anything from your next map destination to items and weapons to pointing out enemies on the map for your squad to see. This intuitive context sensitive design lets you do ALL of this without having to get on the mic to talk to you squamates. Ask anyone who has ever tried to play in a squad with random players online or simply prefer not to use a mic can tell you what a blessing this is. There is also a respawn ability where even after you are knocked down and killed your teammates can grab your player beacon from your loot; a “death box” and bring it over to a respawn beacon and you will get another chance as your character jumps down from the next dropship. This gives away your position to the other remaining players as well, so you will need to move quickly as soon as you hit the ground.

Your teammate can bring your player beacon to respawn you from an incoming dropship.

The gameplay itself in Apex Legends is as smooth as it gets, this comes as no surprise to anyone that marveled at the gameplay of Titanfall 2 (also the fact that Respawn was founded by Jason West and Vince Zampella from Infinity Ward – developers of the first two Cod: Modern Warfare games). The shooting feels good and tight, the movement has enough “weight” to it, but you don’t feel like you’re running through quicksand. 

King’s Canyon – One large island but has multiple areas and terrain from mountains to swamps and desert

There is currently only a single map you can play – King’s Canyon, but it has become one of my favorite maps in any battle royale game. The map has different terrain, from dry sandy wastelands which look like something out of the Borderlands games to green swampy lowlands with streams running through, reminiscent of SOCOM games.

As with most battle royale games, there is a very slight learning curve. Mostly just familiarizing yourself with which weapons are what and what the attachments and ammo types are, which in turn makes it more satisfying to utlitlize all the different gameplay aspects and see your squad as Champions.

Apex Legends is definitely worth checking out if your are a fan of the battle royale genre and it plays well enough to give a chance even if you aren’t a fan. I am having a blast playing this in the meantime. Here’s hoping the enormous success of this game in such a short time may result in Respawn making Titanfall 3 in the future…