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Oh, no, it's Tetrisweeper!

So. The problem with Tetrisweeper, which I am not linking to because it’s terribly addictive and bad, is that Tetris and Minesweeper are totally different kinds of games.

Minesweeper: one false move and you’re dead. Which, you know, is in keeping with the whole Devil-Bunny-needs-a-ham backstory of the game. If you click on a bomb, the game is over. There’s one solution—finding all the bombs—and you either find it or you don’t. There’s a time element, too, in that you are attempting to solve the layout as quickly as possible, and you can keep track of your best times, but really, it’s a win or lose game. And it’s quick enough that if you lose, you haven’t lost much. It’s different from actual landmines in that way. In the video game, it’s click-click-click-click-lose. Click-click-click-click-click-click-lose. Click-lose. Click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-click-win! That’s how the game is designed, and that’s how it works.

Tetris, on the other hand, once you get fairly good at it, is a long game where you can recover from a few mistakes. In fact, the definition of being good at Tetris might as well be that you can recover from a few mistakes. And that you spend a lot of time playing low enough down on the board that mistakes aren’t instantly fatal. To the extent that there is strategy in Tetris (and I claim there is), it deals mostly with (a) setting yourself up so that you will have so many good places to put the pieces that you won’t make mistakes, and (2) setting yourself up so that if you do drop a piece in the wrong place you can recover from it. Of course, eventually you will lose because of a mistake, but it won’t always happen immediately upon making the mistake. Usually it will be a succession of mistakes. One mistake makes another mistake worse. So it’s tap-tap-tap-tap-mistake-tap-tap-tap-tap-fixed-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-mistake-tap-tap-tap-tap-fixed-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-mistake-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-mistake-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-mistake-tap-tap-mistake-tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-mistake-tap-mistake-lose.

So. This difference of recoverability is connected, of course, to the fact that in Tetris, the point of the game is not to win—you can’t win—but to postpone losing. In Minesweeper, the point is to win as quickly as possible; in Tetris, the point is to lose as slowly as possible. There are plenty of good game of both kinds, and Tetris is among the best at the postpone-the-loss kinds of games (such as Bejeweled, and Collapse, and so on and so forth). Minesweeper is, well, a perfectly good game of the other kind.

So the problem with Tetrisweeper, then, is that being half Minesweeper, one wrong move and you’re dead. But being half Tetris, you cannot win. You are postponing the end of the game as long as possible, but that end is a sudden end brought about by a single click. Doing well for a while does not give you breathing space, as it does in Tetris and similar games. Your game will end with a (game-ending) mistake. And you are always, for however long you postpone the inevitable, just one click away from the Game Over screen. This, I think, makes for an unpleasantly and unnecessarily tense game without the satisfaction of doing well at either.

Alas, I cannot stop playing it.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,
-Vardibidian.

Comments

Thank you for not linking. That sounds dangerous despite the tension of the competing goals.


I played just enough to notice that there isn't enough slack, even in the easy mode, for me to enjoy the puzzle-solving aspect of either game, though I imagine with a taller screen I would.

A few clicks into my first game that didn't end with an immediate bomb, I thought, "I wonder if this task-switching feeling is anything like chess boxing."


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