iPhone App Review – Tris

We’ve enlisted help in the form of Michael to give us a hand reviewing as many of the iPhone apps out there as possible. Here’s the first one he’s got his hands on.

App: Tris
Price: Free
Type: Game

I have been a fan of Tetris ever since I got my first GameBoy in 1989. The grey graphics dancing across the green screen, the hypnotic Russian music, I probably spent the better part of my (wasted) youth playing that game. I almost bought the EA version for the iPhone but I heard that it wasn’t nearly worth it. The whole idea of EA doing a Tetris game is kind of a weird fit. Tetris is a simple game, and EA doesn’t do simple. Reports and reviews said it was overblown, overpriced and just overdone in general. So fine. I just saved ten bucks (you would call it 5 quid).

Resigned to a fate of Tetris-less iPhone, I was stoked to find that Tris, originally a Jailbroken Tetris app, had gone legit and was now in the iTunes store. I had never Jailbroken my iPhone before because I was always worried about software updates giving me an iBrick. Since my iPhone is my only phone number, and I use it for work, I just couldn’t take the risk. So I never got to check out this cool little game. The best thing about Tris? It’s free. 0 dollars, 0 pounds, free. Tris was designed by Noah Witherspoon, aka my newest hero.

The way Tris works is you tap the screen to rotate the blocks, and you can “pull” them down by dragging them. That’s it. It’s exactly like Tetris, same rules and same layout. And you don’t actually have to be touching the piece to drag them down, you can pull down from dragging anywhere above or below the piece.

Unlike EA’s version, there’s no 3D animations to suck your precious battery juice. This really is a WYSIWYG situation. Falling blocks, that you rotate to make lines.

The only problems I have with this game are pretty small gripes. One, it has no sound effects or music. The original Tetris had Russia’s greatest hits in the background, and that satisfying “CRUNCHSPLOSION” when you completed a line. Secondly, the tap-to-rotate interface only rotates the pieces clockwise. When you over-rotate, depending on the piece, you might have to tap it three more times to get it in the desired position. This can be a problem in the higher levels, when they start falling fast. Back on the GameBoy version (aka the Old Testament of Tetris), buttons B or A would rotate the piece either way, so if you over-rotated, the other button was a de-facto undo button.

These quibbles aside, this is a great game, and a highly addictive way to pass time on a bus, plane or train. The great thing about this app, is that you can listen to your iPod while you are playing, which helps to alleviate the lack of Russian accompaniment (now if only I could download the Old Testament of Tetris music and just put that on repeat on my iPod as I played!!).

Now the bad news. We’ll never get an updated version with the music and sound effects. Because Tris is getting pulled from iTunes within the next 24-48 hours. So if you have not downloaded it yet, don’t finish reading this sentence before you do. Move it!



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