- AGH 2600 REVIEW -

Z-Blocks Label

Z-Blocks Pic 1
Given the game's simplicity in gameplay and graphics, Tetris has been a popular testbed for 2600 developers in the past. Ed Federmeyer became the first independent hobbyist to bring the game to life with Edtris in 1995, then Colin Hughes' impressive Tetris26 sprung to life three years later. Now, with Z-Blocks, Alex (don't call me Alexei) G. does both of them one better by creating a Tetris clone with multiplayer capabilities.

In this adaptation of the classic puzzler, gameplay is pretty much like any other clone of Tetris. All the familiar pieces we've come to know and love are all there, and the object is still to strategically place them such that complete rows are created so that the rows keep disappearing at the bottom. One deficiency found in all 2600 versions has to do with the inability to rotate the tiles in both directions. In Z-Blocks' case, the one fire button turns the tiles 90 degrees clockwise. It's not a hindrance to playability, but experts who relied on the option of flipping pieces in both directions will point to this omission as a sore spot. In every other facet, however, Z-Blocks has it covered.

Z-Blocks Pic 2
In classic 2600 fashion, however, Z-Blocks is filled with a variety of options that were not even found on the original versions of Tetris. For instance, players have the ability to select the level (i.e. speed) which they'd like to begin play. For true veterans, there's even an option to choose the beginning height of the blocks. In other words, if you want to start with bottom three rows already littered with pieces, they can choose to do so. Being able to tweak the height and levels is cool, but then Z-Blocks takes things one step further to a place that no 2600 Tetris clone has gone before -- a friend can also join in on the fun. Two players can compete to see who survives the longest in a fight for brick supremacy.

Graphically, Z-Blocks is quite plain. Each block is readily recognizable as they fall from the top of the screen, but unfortunately all blocks share the same color and there's no outline around the segments (or squares) of each piece. This really isn't something that deters from the enjoyment of play, however, and the tradeoff in allowing for two-player simultaneous action is more than worth it.

Did we say shipping? Yep, Alex is planning to release 500 cartridges of Z-Blocks with a color label and perhaps a manual. Once we get word from him on availability of Z-Blocks, AGH visitors will definitely be informed. All in all, a very impressive effort and we can't wait for what Alex has in store next.

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