Tetris Primetime Turns Tetris Into a Game Show With Big Cash Prizes

Tetris Primetime Turns Tetris Into a Game Show With Big Cash Prizes

Think you're a Tetris master? You'll soon have your chance to prove it to the world.

Tetris is one of the most popular video games in the world. It's also one of the most recognized and accessible. Everyone plays Tetris, from hardcore "Gamerz!" to little old ladies in Arizona. It's available to play in one of its many iterations across modern gaming platforms, PCs, phones, and dozens more. Now, The Tetris Company and N3TWORK, Inc. are working together to push the Tetris mobile app into less familiar waters—including a mode that might fulfill your (probably dead) dream of being a contestant on a game show.

Tetris Primetime, a new mode coming to the Tetris app, lets you play in scheduled, real-time matches against other players. Competing in Tetris Primetime makes you eligible for prizes, including a daily $5000 pot. The longer you survive, the better your rewards. Different parts of the world have different "tune-in" times for Tetris. Most of North America (sorry, Quebec) can open their app at 7:30 p.m. local time and listen to actor Millen Baird pitch Tetris Primetime while the lobby fills up and the countdown timer gradually ticks down to game time.

When Tetris Primetime launches, Baird will have new videos that celebrate winners and share updates about the game. If he ever shows up one night and says "Welcome to City 17," delete the app and run.

I went hands-on with Tetris Primetime earlier this month, and it's strange to see a game show atmosphere connected to a simple game I grew up playing on the Game Boy. Nevertheless, I had to admit to myself that the mere idea of playing Tetris for cash money is compelling.

Tetris Primetime lets you choose from several skins. For example, you can play Tetris in a Hellmouth. | The Tetris Company

I went up against several other players in the N3TWORK Inc. demo, and I lost quickly because Tetris just isn't my strong suit. I enjoyed what I played, however. As you race to stack lines and rack up points, other contestants do the same. If you neglect to keep your tetromino stack within or under the fields that are marked on-screen, "garbage" tetrominos collect on the bottom of the field and push you closer to the top of the screen—Tetris' dreaded "No-No Zone." If your pile hits the top, you're out. To get rid of garbage lines, you need to fit them with matching tetrominos so that they disappear.

I'm curious to find out if Tetris Primetime takes off. The very idea of participating in a digital game show for cash prizes is interesting if you have a dark side that loves to veg out in front of trashy episodes of The Price is Right. Add the familiarity of Tetris to the mix, and we have an app that will catch people's attention, if nothing else. Will it hold that attention when Tetris Primetime officially launches? Only the chipper prophet Millen Baird knows for sure.

If you think game shows are the Devil's playground, the new Tetris still has lots for you to do. The Tetris Royale mode lets you play—and try to survive—against up to 99 other players. There's no cash at stake in Royale; just bragging rights and leaderboard positions. This is more or less mobile's answer to the Tetris 99 battle royale game on Switch (of which the father of Tetris himself, Alexey Pajitnov, is a huge fan). I played Tetris Royale and found it a little less hectic than Tetris 99, since Royale doesn't surround you with the screens of other players. The longer you last in Royale, the faster the action gets. I enjoyed Royale, and last time I played, I lasted long enough to come in second out of 20 competitors. The I-block gods were looking out for me that day.

Tetris for you, Tetris for me. | The Tetris Company

Finally, for anyone who's ranting "Just give me normal Tetris!" like the tired caricature of a Starbucks customer who "just wants a coffee, not a tall skinny unicorn-latte Frappuccino," vanilla Tetris is still there for you via the solo marathon mode. If you have friends, though, you might also want to consider the new Tetris Together mode. It lets you and your pals compete in customized matches, and it has voice chat. That's perfect for when you all want to talk crap about the O-block. Screw that guy.

Whether you like your Tetris served to you as a game show, or whether you like to just chill and drop blocks, the Tetris mobile app overhaul should have something for you. And if you manage to win that $5000 prize pot, don't forget about your ol' buddy Nadia who told you about the game in the first place.

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Nadia Oxford

Staff Writer

Nadia has been writing about games for so long, only the wind and the rain (or the digital facsimiles thereof) remember her true name. She's written for Nerve, About.com, Gamepro, IGN, 1UP, PlayStation Official Magazine, and other sites and magazines that sling words about video games. She co-hosts the Axe of the Blood God podcast, where she mostly screams about Dragon Quest.

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