I’m sure you’ve all heard of Jenga, the classic building block game of mental and physical fortitude. It’s a classic that can be found in homes and pubs alike. The game is so successful that several special editions of it have been made, and I had the pleasure of trying out the Jenga Tetris with Ivana Sugar.
Ivana Sugar and I first decided to play a round of classic Jenga. Ivana, to my shock, had never played or even heard of it before, but turned out to be a natural. The round of classic Jenga helped Ivana to understand the basic rules of the game before we tried out the Jenga Tetris which have a few variations. The classic game was tense and lasted a lot longer, possibly one of the best rounds of Jenga I have ever played.
Jenga Tetris came out as a very pretty looking special variant form of classic Jenga in 2013. The normal wooden blocks are replaced with brightly coloured, hollow plastic blocks, and some of the pieces are cut into the iconic tetris game pieces. This includes the L shape, T shape, Z shape, square and also a few short I shapes.
Setting up Jenga Tetris takes longer than the classic version, and I found it tedious. Because some random blocks are oddly shaped, you have to give a bit more thought into how you arrange them to stack. You are also meant to stack it together with your teammates, which is meant to make sure no one has an advantage to the game. This should already be a little red flag.
I did like the colour of the Jenga Tetris, it’s bright and fun. The plastic material of the blocks however just don’t feel right compared to the wooden blocks. They are hollow and more slippery which makes the tower much more unstable than the classic Jenga. Overall the feel of the Jenga Tetris is cheap, despite it costing more to buy that classic Jenga.
Actual gameplay is the same as classic jenga. You pull out the piece, you put it on top, you try not to topple over the tower. The variation rules include the fact you can build on top over any block formation, as the tower will never be completely solid due to the weird Tetris pieces. Pieces could also be slotted into gaps and stick out of the tower to count.
Whilst our game of classic Jenga was long and tense, Jenga Tetris was much shorter and much less satisfying. There are a few hicups with the game play. The square pieces, the T pieces and the Z pieces covered both middle and side areas of the tower, and removing any of these pieces almost guaranteed that the tower would topple. That meant that there were already a fair number of pieces that weren’t playable.
Too add to this, the plastic pieces really are unstable and topple easily as it is. The fact that when built, there are already gaps in the tower before the game starts doesn’t help. That being said, after a few attempts I was finally able to play a round that lasted more than 1 turn. The key is only going for pieces that are like the classic jenga pieces.
Overall I do not recommend Jenga Tetris. The idea is nice, and if you know someone that really likes Tetris you can buy it for them to use the pieces as decoration or something. The tower itself looks very nice with it’s bright colours. The game however feels as hollow as it’s pieces and I found myself very unsatisfied whether I won or lost.