It seems strange that Alexey Pajitnov's 80s puzzler should remain so compelling decades later, but the proof is undeniable. With the addition of a healthy selection of multiplayer modes, Tetris Effect: Connected is perhaps the best version of the puzzler available on any platform. Its solo campaign and mood-based modes remain fantastic, helped along by beautiful visual effects that range from glorious starscapes to intense three-dimensional close-ups of the board. It also has a foot-tapping soundtrack that delivers remixes of classic Tetris music, chill electronic tracks, and songs with dynamic vocals that change as you clear more lines. There's a challenge for every type of Tetris taste, from endless modes to insanely quick instant block drops. It's easy to lose minutes or hours while playing as you move from one objective and game type to the next. The Switch version gets some additional tweaks thanks to its flexibility in Joy-Con options for dropping blocks. Sure, you can pick one or two Joy-Cons for control, but the real standout here is the addition of more rumble functionality, which can really vibrate your entire handheld and controllers in time with the music or as you eliminate lines. Paired together with a set of headphones, this extra vibration boosts the immersion of each stage significantly, and if you're playing on a Switch OLED, the stages really pop with its particle effects as lines are cleared and dynamic backgrounds that change as you make progress.
But it's the addition of a bevy of multiplayer modes that takes this edition to the next level. The boss-oriented co-op modes are a blast, especially with friends. Upon clearing enough blocks, your three teammates' boards come together and fuse for a chaotic block-dropping free-for-all, with players working together to clear as many lines as possible to send maximum junk to the boss' board. Extra bits of strategy come in the form of subtle rule changes, such as purple blocks that break apart once placed to drop and fill empty holes. Other multiplayer modes seem designed to cater to multiple generations of Tetris fans, from modern score-based matches to a mode meant to recall the original Tetris experience, eliminating contemporary play features such as the option to hold and reserve a block for future use and the ability continue to rotate and move pieces once they've touched down. Simply put, Tetris Effect: Connected delivers a huge array of Tetris game types, both single- and multiplayer, and bundles it all in up to stunning 4K graphics (for the Xbox Series X version) and catchy music. It's nothing short of essential for classic puzzling fans.