If you grew up in the great “Atari Lynx vs Nintendo Game Boy vs Sega Game Gear” era, you’ll know that one of the biggest and most effective weapons that Nintendo unleashed for the Game Boy was ‘Tetris’. It was massive, and suddenly everyone was lining up to erase lines of blocks and get the highest score. Well, there’s some good news! The Lynx finally received the aftermarket title ‘T-Tris’, and we also have a free downloadable ROM right here... which is called (appropriately) ‘LynxTris’!
So, WHY is it so great that we now have received a ‘Tetris’-style game or two for the Lynx, after all this time? Well, it is starting to feel like the Atari Lynx now has the 2D puzzling genre locked down. Sure, the Lynx has ‘Klax’ and ‘Blockout’, but these were 3D in aspect, and somewhat challenging to play: ‘Klax’ involving holding the Lynx vertically, and ‘Blockout’ being tricky because of its distracting perspective. ‘LynxTris’ is a cleanly represented 2D title, where the aim is simple: as the blocks fall on the screen and form stacks, you must make “lines” of blocks to clear the screen again. And that’s it.
‘LynxTris’ is graphically pretty straightforward. The title screen is basic but colourful, and the main game involves the afore-mentioned dropping blocks that come in different shapes and sizes. There’s a little preview window for you to see which shape is falling next, which is nice (and a feature of many versions of ‘Tetris’). Interestingly, when the coloured shapes hit the base of your playing window, they all turn the same colour; not sure why, but there’s no detriment to that occurring. There’s nothing really special to report in terms of the visuals. But that’s a hallmark of ‘Tetris’, so it’s hard to complain really; although... can’t resist it... I would have loved a few extra details here and there.
Sounds are not really part of the ‘LynxTris’ experience, which is a bit of a shame. It would have been a really cool thing to have a nice set of soundscapes to accompany play, but there isn’t anything like that. If there was anything music-wise added to this game, it would certainly enhance the experience. This was the great strength of the ‘Columns’ experience on the Sega Game Gear; and its a strength that’s been replicated in Atari Lynx game ‘Loopz’. So there’s a dream that this game, should it ever be added to, would get a beneficial treatment like that.
Controls are easy to get used to. There is never an issue with turning the block shapes, or positioning the blocks where you want to place them. And importantly, you CAN manually speed the block drops up - YES! Playing ‘Tetris’ should be an easy to control experience, and thankfully this is the case here. One of the reasons that the controls are so easy to get used to is that there is not much a variation of speed in the block drops, which is one of the key aspects of ‘Tetris’ as a gaming challenge. I’m not sure how fast the drops do get, but I certainly didn’t feel that things became too much more challenging from the beginning point.
And this is probably one of the factors that was most lacking in ‘LynxTris’: the challenge factor. It’s not that the game isn’t challenging. It’s just that it feels like the game doesn’t get challenging when it should. The block drop should speed up early-ish, or there should at least be some choice of difficulty levels. Level advancement seems slow (I was only on Level 1 after quite a while) so I just don’t know how fast the action gets. So I just don’t have an answer as to how crazy it gets at what point (if at all) which is something you want in a ‘Tetris’ game, either automatically or manually activated. This feature would suited this game very well.
Still, there’s no doubt that ‘LynxTris’ is a great effort by this game maker, despite some missing important elements. You won’t get a choice of difficulty levels, or much variation in play or sound. But it is still a more-or-less a functional version of ‘Tetris’, absolutely free, as a downloadable ROM; and you’re playing it on your Atari Lynx. Nice! Plus, you can definitely see your advancement through the levels at all times, and how many lines you’ve erased; so keeping score of your best efforts is easy. With the potential additions mentioned earlier, this game would receive a much higher score; but I’d still chuck this title onto your Lynx SD for some fun puzzling action, ‘Tetris’ style. Block-tactic!Score Card
This review was submitted by Jon Mc from JMac Productions