Review by Joe Santulli



Graphics: 6

Sound: 6

Gameplay: 8

Overall: 8

KevTris screen shotGood game consoles never die.

After a trilogy of Vectrex game releases in the 1990's from designer John Dondzila, retro gamers have found that dusting off their classic consoles can be very habit-forming. When talented programmers start dusting it can only mean good news for all of us. Enter Kevin Horton, who one day decided to write a game for the long-dormant ColecoVision system. This system, king of the hill in 1983 but long out of production is the only console ever to feature "off the shelf" hardware. That can be very appealing to a programmer looking to hack his way into videogaming history.

Horton's first effort is the familiar game of Tetris, modified slightly and crammed into 16k of ColecoVision power. You know Tetris: get the various patterned blocks falling from the top of the screen all together to form complete horizontal lines. Leave gaps, and the pile grows higher. Let the pile grow to the top, and the game ends. KevTris handles the basics very well, using the same familiar pattered blocks and controls. It also features a welcome two-player version (something the designer intended to do to prove he could top Nintendo's 8-bit effort) and ten skill levels. Add to the basics the ability to handicap a player by starting the game with 1 to 10 pre-dropped rows and you can see right away the man knows the principles of the game.

KevTris goes beyond the basics by adding two new modes of play: "Zero-Out" challenges you to get the highest score possible by clearing a set number of lines. In two-player mode this is called "First Wins", and as the title suggests, the first player to clear the set number of lines wins. "Builder" requires you to score as high as possible in a set time limit, also allowing the player the luxury of holding the block in mid-air. "Most Lines" is a two-player variation where the one with the most lines completed after either player hits the top of the screen wins. That means you can "lose" by running out of room but still win the game - an interesting strategic variation.

There isn't much to say about the graphics and sound, both are handled very well but nothing you wouldn't expect from a Tetris clone. There are two tunes to choose from during play (or no tunes at all), but surprisingly the excellent theme song that plays during the titles isn't one of the listening options. The various block shapes each have their own color and design, making them easy to recognize during the very fast-paced higher skill levels.

Simply put, KevTris is a fantastic game. Kevin Horton promises a huge RPG-style game as a follow up. If this is just a "brush up" first effort, we can all look forward to more good things for our ColecoVisions soon!


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Last updated: Wednesday, December 10, 2003 02:27 PM