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When PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds came on the scene and broke all sorts of records in the process, the gaming industry soon realized that the battle royale genre was going to take off in a big way. Fortnite then came along and became a cultural phenomenon, and Apex Legends has just released to widespread critical acclaim. However, there is a new battle royale contender in town, and it comes in the form of…Tetris.

One of the biggest surprises of Nintendo’s recent Nintendo Direct presentation was the announcement of a Switch-exclusive, battle royale version of Tetris called Tetris 99. The concept of Tetris 99 is simple: 99 players duke it out in games of Tetris until only one player remains. What was once a joke concept has now become a reality, and it’s available for free right now for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers.

Tetris 99 is one of the first non-NES games available for free through the Switch Online subscription service. This seems to be an indication on Nintendo’s part that the company is going to move away from only hosting retro games on the platform, and instead try to bolster its value with original projects like this.

Tetris 99 is bizarre for sure, but it’s always nice to see a fresh take on the classic puzzler. After all, Tetris is one of the most celebrated and long-running video game franchises of all time, having made an appearance on virtually every video game console since the 1980s. The series still enjoys some critical acclaim to this day, with last year’s Tetris Effect hailed as not just one of the best virtual reality games of 2018 by multiple publications, but one of the best games of the year in general.

It remains to be seen if Tetris 99 will enjoy similar success as Tetris Effect, but the game seems to have enjoyed some positive buzz early on. The strange concept has definitely turned some heads, and while it may not be able to dethrone Fortnite or Apex Legends in the battle royale space, it shows that the genre can offer all kinds of different experiences.

Tetris 99 is out now, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch.

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