- Tetris is a classic video game with a simple concept, addictive gameplay, and a fascinating origin story.
- There are other puzzle games like Welltris, Meteos, and Dr. Mario that offer similar experiences and can serve as a refreshing change from Tetris.
- Puzzle games like Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo, Lumines, Tricky Towers, Puzzle League, Bust-A-Move, and Puyo Puyo offer unique twists on the falling block genre and provide hours of challenging and enjoyable gameplay.
Tetris is one of the oldest, most enduring, and most accessible video games out there. It is easy to understand, never ends until you fail, and players slowly get better at it as they play, leading to a thrilling gameplay loop that can keep gamers hooked for hundreds of hours despite the simple concept. The story around its creation is also interesting, coming from the Soviet Union with its creator, Alexey Pajitnov, being locked out of royalties for years as it slowly came to the West on consoles like the Game Boy and NES through a tangled web of legal and distribution rights.
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Fortunately, the creator eventually got his fair share of the pie years later. Even though Tetris never grows old, there are plenty of other puzzle games of a similar ilk that players might want to try to switch things up every once in a while. Even if these don’t turn out as engaging as Tetris, it is always nice to have a palette cleanser.
Updated January 25, 2024 by Jason Wojnar: Tetris will never go out of style, especially as new generations discover the game. Still, this list will help anyone looking for some variation in their puzzle games. This update has added a few new games to mess around with that capture the Tetris flare in one way or another.
1 Treasure Stack
Controlling The Character To Maneuver Chests
- Release Date: March 1, 2019
- Developer: PIXELAKES LLC
- Platforms: Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, Nintendo Switch, PC
What makes Treasure Stack different from all the other games here is the way players control the falling blocks. Instead of moving the blocks directly, they control a character on the screen who has to manually maneuver the objects. Match up the chests of the same color and then destroy them by connecting them with a key of the same color.
Like a lot of its peers, it is easier said than done. Players also have to pay attention to the way treasure chests are stacked in relation to their ability to maneuver through the playing field and stack other chests where they want them.
A 3D Twist On Tetris
- Release Date: 1989
- Developer: Doca (designed by Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov)
- Platforms: PC
Tetris is often described as the perfect video game with no need to improve on the basic gameplay. Original designer Alexey Pajitnov still took a crack at it with Welltris. The game adds three dimensions to the Tetris formula, making for a more complex play area.
Blocks fall along four walls and into a pit at the bottom, and the basic idea of making lines disappear is the same as before. It is easy to see the added complexity as a reason for it not becoming as popular as its predecessor.
Blocks Don’t Blow Up, They Shoot Up Into Space
- Release Date: June 27, 2005
- Developer: Q Entertainment
- Platforms: Nintendo DS
Meteos works on the idea of blasting the blocks away instead of simply making them disappear. When players match the blocks of the same color, they jettison upward, taking the blocks above them away as well.
This twist on the falling block formula was created by none other than Super Smash Bros. creator Masahiro Sakurai. Even though it is a unique concept, it did not spawn a series in the same way other games mentioned here did.
4 Dr. Mario
Win By Destroying All The Viruses On The Board
- July 27, 1990
If you slap the Mario name on something, it will attract a certain number of players by default. It is a good thing, then, that Dr. Mario is a fun puzzle game in its own right without simply relying on the character to garner sales. Instead of clearing lines like in Tetris, players have to clear all the viruses on the board by matching blocks of the same color to them in fours.
If the blocks fill up to the top, players lose. It is a little bit harder than Tetris, but early matches start slow, making it simple to ease gamers into the rules. The first Dr. Mario was on the NES and there have been entries on almost every Nintendo console since.
5 Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo
Battle Through Puzzles
- Release Date: 1996
- Developer: Capcom
- Platforms: PlayStation, Sega Saturn, Arcade, Sega Dreamcast, PC, Game Boy Advance, PS3, Xbox 360
Super Puzzle Fighter II Turbo takes its aesthetic from the Street Fighter series, but its gameplay is all about falling blocks. Players have to do more than just match up blocks of the same color, though. They have to wait until the glowing orb of the color comes and then drop it on top to take out all the connected blocks.
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While this makes the game riskier, it also creates bigger chain reactions. It makes the multiplayer more intense, too. Mortal Kombat: Deception included a minigame called Puzzle Kombat which played by the same rules, only using that series’ characters instead.
Where The Music And Puzzles Are Intertwined
- Release Date: December 12, 2004
- Developer: Q Entertainment
- Platforms: PSP, Mobile, PC, PS2, PS4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Lumines was created by Tetsuya Mizuguchi, who would go on to make Tetris Effect. It goes without saying, then, that Lumines is also a visual and audio spectacle in addition to including fun puzzle gameplay.
The music determines the speed of the game, which, unlike Tetris, does not only make the game harder or easier. A slower game actually creates the risk of losing sooner, while a faster game makes big combos more difficult since blocks disappear faster.
7 Tricky Towers
Physics-Based Falling Block Gameplay
- Release Date: August 2, 2016
- Developer: WeirdBeard
- Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
This is probably the least popular and newest puzzle game on the list, but it bears mentioning because of how unique it is. Tricky Towers involves stacking blocks on top of each other, except gravity and physics get in the way of neatly arranging the pieces.
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Depending on the game mode, you either have to make a tower climb as high as possible without having it crash down, or you have to fit a certain number of blocks onto a space without it falling. The multiplayer modes also add an interesting competitive flare. Though it involves falling blocks, skills in Tetris of Dr. Mario won’t help in Tricky Towers.
8 Puzzle League
The Blocks Come The Bottom Of The Screen
- Release Date: September 25, 2000
- Developer: Nintendo Software Technology
- Platforms: Nintendo 64
Like many games, Puzzle League goes by a different name, Panel de Pon, in Japan. In the United States, most gamers were introduced to this type of game with Pokemon Puzzle League. The rules here are simple; arrange the blocks in threes to make them disappear as more blocks continuously push up from the bottom.
Like in many of the games on this list, the game is over if blocks fill up the screen. Unlike a lot of Pokemon games and spin-offs, the characters here are taken from the anime series.
9 Puzzle Bobble/Bust-A-Move
Players Shoot The Balls Onto The Board
- Release Date: 1994
- Developer: Taito
- Platforms: Arcade (sequels were released on various consoles)
Puzzle Bobble takes the falling block idea, turns the board upside down, and lets the player shoot the pieces, which are now orbs. You have to shoot them to group up corresponding colors. The cool thing here is pulling off trick shots like deflecting the orb off the side of the playing field to land it in hard-to-reach places.
The game’s aesthetic is just as appealing as the gameplay, with upbeat music and cutesy dinosaurs as the mascot. For some reason, the game was renamed Bust-A-Move in the West.
10 Puyo Puyo
Stack The Colors Correctly To Create Huge Combos
- Release Date: October 25, 1991
- Developer: Compile
- Platforms: Sega Genesis, Arcade, MSX 2, Game Gear, Master System
To make this game more appealing to American gamers, the first release was rebranded as Dr. Robotnick’s Mean Bean Machine. Despite the Sonic makeover, it retained the same rules of grouping these gooey pieces together and creating chain reactions.
If players want an intense puzzle experience, then they just need to play Puyo Puyo Tetris and its sequel. Here, they can play one game or the other, or they can do rounds where both are combined, creating a wild puzzle gaming experience that forces people to constantly be on their toes and switch up the way they think.
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