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Tetris 360

Tetris 360 adds one simple mechanic to the well-loved Tetris game – real-time gravity detection.  The player twists and turns the device to control the direction in which the Tetris blocks fall.  Most interestingly, Tetris blocks can be dropped and cleared on any of the 4 sides.  Instead of spawning from the top, the Tetris blocks spawn from a rectangle located in the center of the screen – if the blocks get stacked too high, it’s game over!

Design Process

The idea for Tetris 360 was sparked by the 2007 trend in gaming - gestural controls.  To start, I referenced the top games in multiple genres including board, card and video games.  I thought about how I could make each of them work in a stand alone handheld device with tilt controls.  Eventually I realized Tetris would be a perfect fit – it already uses gravity as a core mechanic!  The challenge here was to figure out how to make tilting an integral part of the experience.

I started by exploring the possibility of allowing the blocks to drop on all 4 sides.  It seemed there was something there so I kept on going.  Next, I made a few paper prototypes and mocked up a few different screen layouts.  When I came up with a plan that solved some of the key issues, I moved on to creating a simple flash demo.  This first demo was a canned experience (no user interaction) but was enough for me to work out the biggest details like - how wide the screen should be, how the lines would clear and what to do with the odd corner situations.  Seeing how it could work furthered my interest in the idea – but I still wasn’t sure it would be fun.  The last step was to create a fully playable demo to prove the concept fully.  It is a blast!

Final Outcome

Tetris 360 made it through Mattel's rigorous invention submission process and was sold in toy stores, game stores, department stores and more.  Later, Mattel extended the 360 line to the Uno and Pictionary licenses as well.