Tetris had been downloaded over 132 million times on mobile devices by the time EA launched this latest rework of Alexei Pajitnov's classic on the App Store. The principal addition here is a single-touch control scheme that shows an outline of several possible shape placements; simply tap where you want the block to fall and it does so straight away. There are often more options than can fit on the screen at once, of course, and a button on the left hand side of the screen cycles through sets of alternatives. It's a well thought-out system that works well early on, but cracks start to appear as the action, and pace, ramps up.
That pace is dictated by a timer that depletes faster as you advance through the levels; if you don't make your move in time the shape is dropped straight down the middle of the screen. At some point your desired move won't be in that initial set of options, and you'll have to cycle through two or three more sets before it appears. During the later levels of the classic Marathon Mode this inevitably means you'll fail to make your move in time and spend the next couple of minutes trying to mop up the mess. The problem is that it means the mode is a marathon in name only – your progress is no longer limited solely by your own reactions and dexterity – it's by the controls. All that said, One-Touch mode is a far better fit than the alternative, a clumsy set of touch controls that involve horizontal swipes to move a block sideways, a downwards swipe to drop the block and a tap anywhere in the background to rotate.
Perhaps EA would prefer that you spend your time in Galaxy mode, a new addition to Tetris canon. Each galaxy contains 15 levels and needs to be unlocked using T-Coins, a currency that accumulates during play or, of course, through in-app purchase. It's most immediately reminiscent of Lumines' puzzle mode, giving you a bulky morass of shapes and tasking you with clearing them quickly enough to get a five-star rating, rewarded with T-Coins. There are changes to the core mechanics: blocks fall into a void below, and there are also power-ups, including one that can fragment tetrominoes into their constituent blocks and another that will transform the next shape to one that best fits the playfield. It quickly becomes apparent that power-ups are vital for five-star ratings, but it takes a lot of trial and error to work out exactly how and when they should be used.
Each use of a power-up costs between 90 and 150 T-Coins, and as such your hunt for maximum ratings will often see you run out of currency. Refilling means putting the hours into Marathon Mode – which we'd happily do were it not for the compromised control system – or a quick, painless trip to the online store, powered, unsurprisingly, by Origin. Twenty minutes in Marathon will net you four to five hundred coins; you can buy 2,500 for £1.49. In-app purchases require delicate balancing, but with T-Coin bundles costing up to £69.99, and annual T-Club subscriptions available for £20.99 a year, EA could hardly be more obvious in letting you know that, as far as it's concerned, the 69p you paid to download the game was only the beginning.