Free software games: Tetris clones

Free software games: Tetris clones


Free software has populated almost every sector of the computer software arena: from office suites to encyclopedias to full operating systems. One genre of computer software that most people overlook when thinking of free software is gaming. The fact is, sites such as Freshmeat have literally thousands of free software and freeware games for a huge variety of operating systems.

Free software has populated almost every sector of the computer software arena

One of the original puzzle games is Tetris. It can be found coded in practically any computer language for any operating system. KDE and Gnome even have Tetris clones as part of their game packages. So what better place to explore the possibilities of free software than with the highly addictive Tetris?

One of the original puzzle games is Tetris. It can be found coded in practically any computer language for any operating system

I found various Tetris clones, for Windows and Linux, and put them through their paces. Several hours later, here are the results.

Alizarin Tetris (Atris)

Atris in actionAtris in action

Atris is Tetris, with a unique spin. The various sized blocks come with multiple colors in each block; these colors can then separate, “splitting” the block when it lands, allowing you to make more combinations than you could with normal Tetris. Also, to complete a level you just need to remove all the gray bricks at the bottom.

The catch? The clock. You need to complete each puzzle within what seems to be a randomly generated time, which sometimes seems to be impossible.

The game also has networking abilities to allow for multi-player competition. The only real downside is the menu system, which at first can be difficult to master. The game is released under the GPL, and the source is available on the author’s website.

Stability 10
Sounds/Music Not Reviewed
Graphics 7
Controls 10
Documentation 7
Overall Design 6
Total Rating 8

Alizarin Tetris Rating

Binaries Available Windows 32-bit, BeOS, Debian
License GNU General Public License (GPL)
Programming Language C

In Brief

Java Tetris

Java Tetris in actionJava Tetris in action

Java Tetris is Tetris, simplified. It’s so simple that all the blocks are the same color, and no documentation is included at all. Just use the arrow keys to drop the blocks and try not to go to sleep playing.

The fact that it’s written in Java makes it truly cross platform: it even runs as an applet on the author’s website. That said, it doesn’t really help its enjoyability. Just adding some color would have helped out a lot.

So, unless you’re a die-hard Tetris fan who absolutely needs a cross platform clone, you’ll probably want a more colorful and play friendly clone.

Stability 10
Sounds/Music N/A
Graphics 5
Controls 9
Documentation 1
Overall Design 5
Total Rating 6

Java Tetris Rating

Binaries Available Cross Platform
License GNU General Public License (GPL)
Programming Language Java

In Brief

JsTetris

JsTetris in actionJsTetris in action

JsTetris is a nice, clean and colorful Tetris game written in JavaScript and HTML, making it playable in almost any newer web browser. Since it’s coded in JavaScript, it will run on almost anything.

JsTetris also has easy controls, tidy documentation and good playability and graphics, making it one of my favorite Tetris clones. You can even play it right off the program’s website, so you won’t even have to install anything.

JsTetris is the ultimate quick and easy Tetris clone that you can play anywhere on anything. It was extremely responsive and was also the best laid out game I reviewed. The useful gages in the left sidebar showed me just how fast I was going, as well as how long I’d been playing.

JsTetris is the ultimate quick and easy Tetris clone that you can play anywhere on anything

The only missing feature was a pause mechanism. Other than that, JsTetris earned straight A’s from me.

Stability 10
Sounds/Music N/A
Graphics 10
Controls 9
Documentation 10
Overall Design 10
Total Rating 9.8

JsTetris Rating

Binaries Available Cross Platform
License BSD License
Programming Language JavaScript

In Brief

SDLBlock

SDLBlock in actionSDLBlock in action

SDLBlock had some of the worst graphics and controls I’ve seen. The whole game makes you want to turn away and never come back. The graphics with the red guide-lines draw your eyes, and the keyboard controls make positioning the blocks more difficult.

The controls were so difficult, in fact, that I was unable to even get one row of blocks to disappear. Even allowing the player to use some decent mouse controls would have helped a lot.

Documentation was included, but it was hard to read and navigate, leading to more frustration.

Overall, the game playability was horrible. It’s not a game I would recommend. That said, it has potential, and with some TLC from some user-minded folks, this could really become a great game, but it’s definitely not there yet.

Stability 10
Sounds/Music N/A
Graphics 2
Controls 3
Documentation 3
Overall Design 2
Total Rating 4

SDLBlock Rating

Binaries Available Windows 32-bit
License GNU General Public License (GPL)
Programming Language C++

In Brief

T^3

T^3 in actionT^3 in action

T^3, literally Tetris cubed, is the best 3D puzzle game I’ve seen. It allows you to customize your view with your mouse (or keyboard) and align the pieces in 3 axes.

The graphics are exceptional, and the gameplay is excellent. Good documentation is also included. T^3 also provides various game modes, including arcade (timed) and classic modes. The source code is also included right in the setup package. This was the only game reviwed here with its own installer.

T^3 is probably the ultimate Tetris for 3D gamers, and will keep you interested for quite a while. The falling blocks in the background are a nice touch. Overall, this is what SDLBlock isn’t, an easy to use (and easy on the eyes) 3D Tetris.

T^3 is probably the ultimate Tetris for 3D gamers...

Stability 10
Sounds/Music N/A
Graphics 10
Controls 9
Documentation 9
Overall Design 10
Total Rating 9.6

T^3 Rating

Binaries Available Windows 32-bit
License GNU General Public License (GPL)
Programming Language C++

In Brief

Conclusion

Free software doesn’t need to be boring, and I hope these examples will convince you to go out and find the fun in free software yourself

The wide variety of free software games available is astounding, so don’t be afraid to look beyond the practical and into the fun when you think of free software. Free software doesn’t need to be boring, and I hope these examples will convince you to go out and find the fun in free software yourself.

Some great places to start are Freshmeat and Sourceforge . Remember that KDE and Gnome also include game packages with their desktop environments.

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Comments

micksmixxx's picture
Submitted by micksmixxx on

A great Tetris clone. Not only are there different levels of difficulty, but the sounds are brilliant.

Try it, I think you'll like it!

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

i'll take it

prism's picture
Submitted by prism on

Personally, I think you slightly missed the point here. SDLBlock is a clone of an old (1989) Tetris clone - Blockout. The latter was a great game, at least at the time it was written and released. I ensure you that it was pretty addictive ;-) More information about it on Abandonia.

What's interesting, the original version still has a bunch of very devoted fans. They even have a webpage for submitting high-scores at http://www.blockout.de/. So, obviously there are people who find the interface, and the whole idea of a 3d-Tetris, amusing and enjoyable.
It's hard to expect that a clone will be different from the original - they wanted to reflect an old game, so the old game (and graphics & interface) you get.

Just to make things clear.

cagret's picture
Submitted by cagret on

The pause would make it to easy to play ;) On high levels after 10-15 minutes of playing, it is an endurance test of your fingers O_^ Or test of psychic powers.. you got so far.. , and now for example a phone, or your parents, or some other accident disturbs your playing, and you have to make a choice ;) no no! Pause would make it all to easy! O_O. Have fun!

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

You should have mentioned Briquolo - it is the best tetris game on Linux.

Its in 3D (openGL) and one of the power-ups's changes the screen viewpoint to 1st person for 30 secs (i.e - the view from the bat)

http://freshmeat.net/projects/briquolo/

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Thanks for the review Robin, they look good. I'm gonna be busy tonight I can see that.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on
Additions:
tint - linux console tetris
bastet - linux console tetris that hates you - play only if you want to end up headbutting your monitor (ie. only play it at work)
Corrections:
Briquolo isn't tetris; it's breakout.

Anonymous visitor's picture
Submitted by Anonymous visitor (not verified) on

Netris - http://sourceforge.net/projects/netris
Still under development but the upcoming version should be a big improvement.

micbev's picture
Submitted by micbev on

PC games are created by one or more game developers, often in conjunction with other specialists (such as game artists) and either published independently or through a third party publisher. They may then be distributed on physical media such as DVDs and CDs, as Internet-downloadable shareware, or through online delivery services such as Direct2Drive and Steam. PC games often require specialized hardware in the user's computer in order to play, such as a specific generation of graphics processing unit or an Internet connection for online play, although these system requirements vary from game to game.
r4 ds

zzo38's picture
Submitted by zzo38 on

Other free software tetris clones include:

  • http://www.pineight.com/lj/ LOCKJAW (Ubuntu, Windows, GameBoy Advance, Nintendo DS) (many options are available)
  • http://www.pineight.com/nes/lj65.zip LJ65 (NES/Famicom) (supports one player and two players mode)
  • http://www.pineight.com/tod/ TOD (GameBoy Advance) (simulates Tetris game with drugs)

(Why isn't there an HTML mode with manual breaking and A HREF support?)

Author information

Robin Monks's picture

Biography

Robin Monks is a volunteer contributor to Mozilla, Drupal, GMKing and Free Software Magazine and has been helping free software development for over three years. He currently works as an independent contractor for CivicSpace LLC