Characters, music, setting, story… all elements of good games. But those are also elements of a good movie, and, barring the music, characteristics of a good book. What makes a game different? Gameplay. You involve yourself with a game in a way that you don’t, or in many cases can’t, with a book or movie. Much of what happens is based in your decisions and your reflexes.
Of course, gameplay varies from game to game: sometimes it’s based on genre, be it RPG or shooter or platformer. It can vary if a game was released on multiple systems, or vary between console and PC. I know the experience of playing Dragon Age is very different on PC compared to xBox for a variety of reasons, for example. So with all these variables, is it possible to choose one game with the best gameplay?
Yes. It is. And I propose that game is Tetris.
Tetris is a classic. The beauty lies in its deceptive simplicity. Stack blocks, clear lines, avoid getting to the top of the column. Oh, while the drop speed increases as your levels do. It’s mesmerizing. It’s addictive. And it’s also played the same way regardless of what system you play it on. The objective never varies, the story never changes, the properties of each block remain the same whether you’re playing against friends on Facebook, or on the classic NES. It can be played on PC, console, iPhone, you name it.
Another beauty of Tetris is that the game can be adapted. Tetris DS, for the Nintendo DS, did a great job with that:through various modes, you play with the Tetris blocks and either clear more lines or solve more puzzles of different types. All set to the background of classic NES games. In other versions you start with junk blocks you have to maneuver around and clear out; others, you have to get a certain number of lines in a certain amount of time. But no matter what, it’s recognizable as Tetris.
So don’t be fooled: beneath its simplistic exterior, Tetris is a game offering great gameplay.