For most players, the new co-op in Tetris Effect: Connected is going to be pretty relaxed right up until the moment it suddenly isn't. The titular Connected mode pits three players against A.I. bosses that have all sorts of tricks for messing with the standard Tetris rules; get hit with a few of these in short succession and it's very easy to top out.
Once you're down in Connected mode, though, you're not out. You also don't have to hold onto hope that your fellow players alone can rescue you… which, I've noticed, is something that a lot of players haven't grasped yet.
If you and your fellow players have serious Tetris chops, then you may never die once throughout Connected mode's five increasingly difficult stages, but if you're only an okay player like me, you've got to know how to save yourself. Trouble is, Tetris Effect intentionally doesn't spell out how to do it. Here's what you need to know to save yourself from dying in the first place, and how to get back in the game if you do.
Don't Build Too High Unless You're Very, Very Good
Lots of Tetris players, especially those accustomed to Tetris Effect's special Zone mechanic, may be inclined to play Connected the same way they play normally: build up a stack, leave a one-block well for I-shaped pieces, and rack up those Tetrises. That's a quick way to build up your team's shared meter in Connected mode, but it's much riskier here than in solo play—pretty much every boss from the second area onward has at least one "blitz" ability or attack that can be especially devastating with a tall stack of blocks.
In an instant, a tall stack that could normally net you two or three back-to-back Tetrises can become a liability thanks to a boss's blitz. It's also important to note that if someone builds right up to the top of their individual play field, it can make Connected mode's united playfield moments harder too: a player on the left or right won't be able to scoot their tetrominoes over to the opposite side if there's a giant tower stacked up to the top in the middle.
Use Those Purple Tetrominoes
One thing Tetris Effect does teach in its video tutorial for Connected that can really save a run is how its special purple "magicminoes" work. Judging by the online ranked games I've had so far, though, it seems like players who are far better than me aren't used to them yet.
When co-op players enter the united playfield in Connected mode, Tetris Effect already helps out by collapsing each player's stack column-by-column so that there are no row gaps left. This helps a lot with making the 30-wide lines in order to deal damage to the boss, but it's still possible to make gaps by dropping tetrominoes where they don't fit.
This is where the magicminoes come in: wherever they're placed, if there are any gaps in the stack directly beneath them, it collapses them down. Thanks to the turn-based nature of dropping blocks in this mode, it's easy to get antsy and accidentally mis-drop a piece in a way that creates a gap—if that happens, every player should be watching out for the next magicmino so they can drop it on top of the gap area when it comes up.
Magicminoes can also help in situations where you might want an I-shaped piece but don't have one. They also crush down blocks into spaces where there's just an empty column, so if you position an L or J-shaped piece correctly over an open 1-block wide well, you can still drop three blocks into it with a magicmino.
Hey, You Got Your Rez in My Resurrection
Again, if clean stack management and savvy use of those magicminoes can't save you, your Connected run still isn't over. When one player in Connected mode tops-out, full 4-line Tetrises cleared by the remaining players work toward bringing them back, just as Enhance Games' Mark MacDonald explains in this tutorial video produced for Xbox. A resurrection with Tetrises alone is a tricky proposition, though, because if one or two players are out that probably means that whoever is left has also had their stack mixed up by some nasty boss blitzes.
MacDonald says that Enhance purposefully isn't telling players how they can help bring themselves back—"ask a friend on the playground if you don't know," he jokes. Well, reader, consider me that friend (or just someone who would really like to clear Area 5 soon). The secret to helping revive yourself in Connected mode is a simple rhythm game.
There's a player avatar displayed underneath each play field in Connected mode. If you top-out, watch for where your avatar would be: you'll see a little ring that contracts repeatedly, and when that ring shrinks down to a dot, press one of your rotate piece buttons. If you did it right, you'll hear a clap sound effect and get a decent boost to your revival progress. Keep hitting it on beat and you'll come back much quicker than you would otherwise.
So yes, the sort-of secret mechanic in Connected mode is rhythmic in nature, which is fitting considering the previous games from creator Tetsuya Mizuguchi. If you're playing Connected mode with strangers online in Ranked play, knowing this revival tip will be a huge help in the later areas. Please, whatever your skill level, don't just put the controller down if you die—the whole point of Connected mode is to stick together, and every line clear helps!
For more on the other multiplayer modes in Tetris Effect: Connected, check out our in-depth preview from last month.