When Alexey Pazhitnov first developed Tetris back in 1985, I wonder if he ever thought we’d still be talking about his game almost 20 years later? That’s a long time even by industrial standards, much less computer technology. Arguably the most popular computer game ever developed, Tetris has been ported to more computer platforms and in more versions than any other computer game I can think of. And for good reason as Tetris combines the two things that seem to make for great games simple rules with maximum possible user inputs. For those of you who are not familiar with Tetris (i.e. time travelers, extra-terrestrials, etc.) the object of Tetris is to align falling blocks in such a way as to complete horizontal lines of solid blocks. The falling blocks come in various shapes and sizes and can be rotated and moved as until the falling block makes contact with a block that has already fallen. Once a horizontal line of solid blocks has been completed, that line disappears, dropping those blocks above the solid line down and making room for additional blocks. Points are awarded for each horizontal line completed. The game ends when the blocks pile up and reach the top of the screen. With the continuing popularity of Tetris and its clones, it should be no surprise that yet another version of Tetris has come out that is the subject of this review Sugatris from Industry Entertainment (IE). Note that this review is based on the Palm OS version of Sugatris as installed and used on a Tungsten T.
What surprised me is that Sugatris really does not differ much from the original simple version I saw with my old Atari system (yeah, I’m THAT old). Compared to other more complex versions of Tetris that are currently available, Sugatris sticks to its roots in being nothing more than basic Tetris. Heck, the people who wrote the code even have Russian sounding names. Can’t get more retro than that!
What Sugatris does bring to the table are excellent graphics and enjoyable game play. For those of you owning multiple platforms, note that Sugatris supports both color and B&W devices and purchasers of Sugatris will receive versions for Pocket PC, Palm (68k and ARM, color and B&W), Windows Smartphone, and Symbian Series 60. Not bad for $7.50.
I installed and ran Sugatris from external memory on my TT. I noticed no significant difference in game load up or play than when run from internal memory. Sugatris takes up about 519K on my TT the 4-bit grey version only uses about 57k. No documentation was provided with the game not really an issue with a game as simple as Tetris though.
Figure 1. Start Up Screen
After tapping on the game icon, you’re taken to the start-up screen shown in Figure 1. Note that Sugatris offers two levels of play Classic & Advanced. The only real difference I noticed between the two was that an additional block shape is added in the Advanced mode. Sounds minor, but this new shape which looks like a double headed Allen wrench really does make life miserable. Game control is adjustable all of the function buttons including the D-Navigator button can be configured to control the game. The power of the D-Navigator button really shines in allowing easy one-handed play in this game. After adjusting the game controls, tap either Classic or Advanced and play begins as shown in Figure 2 below.
Figure 2. Game Play Screen
Chinks in the Armor.
While Sugatris offers excellent graphics and enjoyable game play, I did notice a few shortcomings. First of all, there is no way to save a game that is in progress. Once you exit the game that’s it you can not save the game or return where you left off.
Secondly, Sugatris takes over all of the functional buttons during game play. Pressing any functional button that I did not configure to control Sugatris forces Sugatris to pause but without performing the intended function (e.g. going to my calendar, address book, to-do list, or memo application, etc.). On my TT, the same holds true with the D-Navigator button when I configured just my calendar, to-do, etc buttons to control Sugatris.
Thirdly, the only way to get out of Sugatris on my TT (other than to power off the TT) is to slide open the silkscreen area and tap one of the silkscreen icons. I did notice that tapping on all silkscreen icons, except the find icon, kicked me out of Sugatris and back to my TT desktop. Tapping on the find icon did allow me to conduct a search, and I was brought back to where I left off in Sugatris. I was also unable to obtain my own screen shots of Sugatris. Every time I tried to use ScreenShot (activated by either functional buttons or stylus swipes in the silkscreen area), Sugatris would go into pause mode before the shot could be taken of the desired screen.
Lastly, for those of you who’ve tried other versions of Tetris and are used to getting a preview of upcoming block shapes note that Sugatris does not offer this. No big deal to me but something to be aware of.
Excellent game play control
Easy to Learn, challenging to Master
Excellent deal for a multi-platform game
Inability to save games in progress
Loss of PDA function buttons while playing game
The Bottom Line:
Nice graphics and enjoyable play that is provided in a multi-platform package at a nice price. A true Tetris classic, Sugatris is good but greatness will elude it until it develops a game save ability.
Yes when a game save capability is added.