Gone is the kid-friendly UI of the iOS version. In its stead is a very sleek, modern interface that really works well with touch. Sliding your finger to scroll through the various menu options feels great. Not only is it responsive, it just looks great. I wish more companies would put as much effort into their menus as this. And there are definitely a lot of options to scroll through. Marathon is your classic never-ending brick-dropping game. But, you should definitely check out Variant, which introduces a variety of twists on the gameplay. Treadmill, for example, has the playing field constantly shifting sideways, meaning you'll have to think ahead and use your reflexes to adapt to the changing field. Gravity alters the speed and weight of the bricks. There are a dozen variations to play through, each unlocked by accomplishing a specific Tetris feat.
Progressing through a Tetris campaign may seem silly, but it's very rewarding, thanks to the incredible variety the Windows Phone version of the game offers. In addition to all the unlockable game modes, there's a bevvy of other options to peruse through. Yes, there are Achievements. Yes, there are leaderboards and stats. But, there are also "Pro Trainer" replays, which show you minute-long glimpses of fine Tetris moments.
While I found the Windows Phone version of Tetris to be very playable, you'll find that it launches with one of the lowest ratings in the Live Marketplace. Many have voiced their concerns over the touch controls. Personally, I find them very intuitive: drag pieces left and right, and swipe downward to thrust the piece downward. Tap either side of the screen to rotate the screen. It may take some time to get used to, but I found it very comfortable. It may lack the precision that a traditional D-Pad offers, but I think EA'S reworking is far better than having virtual on-screen directional buttons. (Although, a variant of that control scheme is available.)
I was expecting a bare-bones, quick cash-in port of Tetris when EA announced a Windows Phone port. Instead, what I got was a game that actually improved upon the Tetris experience. This is definitely the best retro reboot since Space Invaders Extreme, and warrants a play. Definitely a must-have for Xbox Live on the go.
See also: Windows Phone 7 launch games reviews hub
This review is based on a retail Samsung Focus provided by Microsoft and AT&T.