Few games match Tetris Effect: Connected in terms of visuals and music. It's a feast for the eyes and ears, charming Tetris fans new and old, dazzling them with effects, lights, colours, and soothing sounds.
We shouldn't have been surprised. Tetris Effect — originally released on the PlayStation 4 in 2018 with PSVR support and ported to the Switch last year — was the work of former SEGA developer and the producer of Space Channel 5, Rez, Lumines, and Meteos Tetsuya Mizuguchi. With all of those games under his belt, his aptitude for music, visuals, and addictive puzzles should've been obvious.
In an interview with our friends over at VGC, Mizuguchi, Tetris Effect co-producer Mark MacDonald, and director Takashi Ishihara shared their feelings about the impact the game has had over the years. From meeting Henk Rodgers of The Tetris Team in Hawaii to releasing the game to acclaim, the trio revealed some of the difficulties they faced.
Mizuguchi acknowledged that Tetris is "one of the most famous games in the world. If we used Tetris and then incorporated synthesia, but people thought ‘this is not so gorgeous’ or ‘this doesn’t deserve to be called Tetris’ there would be no emotional response." He wanted to ensure that the game felt like a Tetris game, but struggled with that "final vision".
Director Ishihara backed this up, saying it was "scary" to add the extra details like visuals and sounds because the original game was "very simple and very beautiful" as it was. MacDonald remembers trying to pitch the game to partners, and the confusion that a VR Tetris game caused:
...we’d show it to friends, or fellow developers that we’d have to the studio, people we trusted. You would tell them, “our next game is Tetris” and they would have this weird look on their face like, “you’re making a Tetris game? Really?” and then we’d explain that it was going to be in VR and they’d say, “oh so the pieces are going to fly down and you’re going to be dodging them?” and we’d have to be like, “no…” to which they’d say, “Oh!, so are you going to be tagging the Tetris blocks and moving them?” “no…”
Mizuguchi then reflects on the game's E3 reveal, and how the team decided to lead the presentation with the music, effects, and voice over — "We showed the music, and the effects, we wanted to achieve synthesia and then finally, a Tetris block appeared." The reaction was positive, and Mizuguchi was happy that the game then went on to be not only acclaimed but considered for Game of the Year awards:
We were so happy. It was a great honour, and it gave us confidence and energy. We were super happy. At the same time, this is Tetris Effect, Tetris is already a great game, but I think the positive and good reaction to the new additions and the mixing of the new technology to achieve the feeling the game can give was special. We can make a simple game like Tetris and add emotional elements and it made people cry. We did that and people’s reaction was, “what the… what happened?”
We wanted that. We spent a long time on that and had long discussions, but we never gave up. It made us super, super happy.
Of course, while the game was initially a PlayStation 4 exclusive — heavily enhanced by playing it in VR — it eventually made its way over to PC in the form of Connected, and an Xbox and Switch port followed in the following years. And MacDonald reveals that the team still wants to launch Tetris Effect on more consoles. But the Switch was the last version released, and there's a reason for that — the OLED.
Tetris Effect: Connected launched on Switch on 8th October 2021, the very same day as the OLED model dropped, and in the interview, VGC mentions that "the Switch version was the perfect OLED game", which MacDonald laughs and agrees, saying "Thank you so much, that was definitely not an accident that we released on that date, we were hoping that would be what people thought. So thank you very much." So Enhance Games knew what they were doing!
The visuals pop thanks to the OLED's lovely screen, and it's something we noted in our glowing 10/10 review of Connected, where we said "Oh, and if you're playing on a shiny new Switch OLED, the graphics look even more striking thanks to the improved contrast and brighter colours." So, if you haven't played Connected yet, what are you waiting for? A physical release? Luckily, Limited Run Games has you covered there.
During yesterday's Limited Run Games Showcase, the physical game publisher announced this synesthetic masterpiece would be getting a limited physical edition for consoles.
Pre-orders for Tetris Effect: Connected open on 17th June at 7am PDT / 10am EDT / 3pm BST / 4pm CET and close on 31st July 8:59pm PDT / 11:59pm EDT / 1st August 4:59am BST / 5:59am CET. If you're interested, you can wishlist the game over on Limited Run Games' store right here.
Are you a Tetris Effect fan? Have you played the game on Switch yet? Let us know down below!