Please note: this is a written script of the above video – I highly recommend watching the video for visual examples, but thought I’d leave this here for people that don’t have time for/can’t watch the video.
Do you want to get better at Tetris 99? Fed up of losing to your friends and want to taste that sweet sweet victory? Here are 7 tips to help you improve your Tetris game.
Tetris 99, a Battle-Royale-meets-puzzle-game mashup isn’t something I expected to have so much fun with, but it’s got me hooked. So much so that I wanted to make a video to help others understand it a little better, and improve their gameplay so they can have more fun with it, too. I’m not going to act like I’m incredible at it, I don’t go for T-spins and I’ve only had a couple of wins, but I normally finish in the top 10 so I like to think I have enough of an understanding to pass on some helpful tips.
1. Build for Tetrises
So to begin with, let’s start with some basic Tetris tactics. You need to clear 2 or more lines at once to send the grey ‘garbage’ blocks at your opponents. See in the video above how here I clear one line at a time and nothing happens? But when I clear 2 or more, you see the fireworks shoot off to my targets? We’ll go into that later, but for now, let’s focus around how to achieve this.
What I and a number of other players choose to do is to build a structure up on 9 of the 10 columns, so that dropping a line piece will clear 3 or 4 lines at once. Clearing 4 lines at once using this method is a called a ‘Tetris’. I’ll often build higher and wait for 2 line pieces, so I can get back to back Tetrises, but do whatever you’re comfortable with.
2. Hold It!
This brings me to my second big tip: Make good use of the Hold piece. Pressing L will ‘hold’ or store a piece for you to use later, and it’s incredibly valuable. Been given a square and have nowhere good to put it? Hold it! Did you get a piece you don’t want to use but have a better one in reserve? Hold it! Saving a line piece to get a Tetris? Hold it!!!
This may seem obvious to many of you but I’ve seen people that don’t use this at all and it’s an invaluable tool. Imagine playing Chess but forgetting to ever move your Queen…
3. Hard Drop
The final beginner tactic you need to make sure you implement into your gameplay is adopting the Hard Drop.
Hard Drop is an option that can be enabled in the menu, basically, it allows you to instantly drop pieces by pressing up on the d-pad instead of holding down to ‘slow drop’ the pieces. Again, basic stuff if you’re a Tetris veteran, but it’s something beginner’s often miss or don’t learn to utilize immediately. Here’s a brief comparison – there is some gameplay of me using the ‘slow drop’ method in the video above – see how long it takes me to build up any lines to clear? Now, compare it to the gameplay of me using the hard drop and see how much quicker that is? This might be the answer if you find yourself asking “why is everyone faster than me?”
4. Choose your target
Moving into some more intermediate tips, Tetris 99 using a ‘targeting’ system, where you can choose who you send your ‘garbage blocks’ at. You can choose to target opponents randomly, go for opponents that are close to being KO’d, target players who have badges or retaliate against those that are targeting you. You can also select targets manually, but this takes longer. You can swap the controls in the menu if you’d like, but this is done with the 2 control sticks.
Now, you might be wondering what these badges are and how to get them. Essentially, knocking out an opponent will reward you with a badge, and give you any of the badges they owned at the same time. These badges increase the ‘damage’ you do – basically sending more lines of garbage blocks at your targets than you would normally get.
My tactic is normally to start off targeting Randoms, switch to KOs after a minute or so, and then either target Badges or redirect attacks towards anyone targeting me.
It might be tough to follow, so I slowed down the gameplay in a few areas to note when I’m manually switching my target. I do this every few seconds to try and get the killing blow on someone, or if I see someone that was in trouble escape danger, I’ll swap to pick off someone closer to being knocked out. Things can definitely get pretty hectic, so I’d advise beginners not to worry about this – you paint a target on your back by collecting KO badges, and you don’t want to be dealing with the extra mayhem it brings!
5. Don’t panic
If you do get targeted, it’s important not to panic, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, if the incoming meter is flashing red, you’re about to get the garbage blocks, so you should take a moment to scan for your best move, and see what blocks are in your Next queue. If you can manage to clear some lines yourself, you won’t get any of these garbage blocks, saving yourself from imminent danger. Do this well enough, and you might even KO the person trying to get you.
You’re also probably going to make a lot of mistakes – I certainly do. In these scenarios, it’s important to keep a level head so you can play your way out of danger. Even if you’re not getting the pieces you need, there’s almost always a way out. Sometimes, it requires making what might be considered a ‘bad’ move, however.
6. Who needs Optimal?
By ‘bad’, I mean anything that leaves a gap, preventing you from easily and efficiently clearing multiple lines at once. You shouldn’t be afraid of these suboptimal moves, though, as they are often useful if you have the right pieces. There’s a couple of examples in the video above of moves that I would normally avoid doing, but that end up working out because I can capitalize on the spaces left after clearing one or two lines.
Again, we’re in intermediate territory here so I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this tip to everyone. But it can definitely help beginners out that tunnel on making optimal moves. Sometimes ‘bad’ moves help you out of a tight spot or lead to a big combo, though, so they shouldn’t be overlooked
7. Don’t worry about losses – Have fun!
My final tip, relevant for all levels, is to not worry about losses and to just have fun. At the end of the day, you’re not going to win every time, and although coming 1st should be your goal, you should feel good about wherever you place. Top 50? That means you were better than 49 others! Top 10? You beat 90% of your competitors! Even if you don’t finish in one of these, don’t feel bad. If you look at the leaderboard after your loss, you’ll often see people with much higher levels than you that finished below you, so you can take accomplishment from defeating someone with more playtime and experience than you! Plus… I’ve been knocked out in the 70s a few times, sometimes you just can’t help being targetted by multiple people at once, or maybe you were KO’d by a really good player! Or the blocks just weren’t falling for you, whatever happened, laugh it off, queue up again and have fun with the next match. That’s what the ultimate goal of gaming should be anyway, right? Enjoying what you’re doing. If it stops becoming fun, take a break, play something else, go outside or whatever.
So there you have my 7 tips to get better at Tetris 99 – Have you been enjoying Tetris 99? Let me know if you think I missed anything down below, or just drop a comment if you think we should do more content like this.