Sinclair User10th January 1991
Published in Sinclair User #110
If you're going to pinch someone else's idea, and not even go to much effort to hide the fact, the least you can do is improve on the original, in which case your caddish behaviour might be forgiven. Welltris, which if you haven't guessed is a shameless rip-off of Tetris perpetrated by the game's original inventor.
In case you've forgotten, Mirrorsoft's Tetris, supposedly developed by Russian academic Alexey Pajitnov, involved coloured blocks falling down a tube. You rotate the blocks so that they fall in such a way that the tube fills up as slowly as possible; fill a level and the blocks disappear, and there are various bonuses for lining up blocks of the same colour and so forth.
Sounds like a recipe for boredom to me, but thousands thought it was riveting.Pajitnov's sequel, Welltris, has exactly the same basic idea - it even has groovy Russian style on-screen artwork, for heaven's sake - but this time you're looking DOWN the tube, into four-sided WELL - geddit?! Blocks of different shapes fall down the four sides of the well, theoretically multiplying the excitement by a factor of four. Well...
Before starting you can set the difficulty level, 1-3, the speed at which the blocks move, and choose whether or not the shape of the next block is displayed at the top of the screen. The set-up screen has a picture of a pair of ice-skaters, for some unfathomable reason.
As you play, displays show your score and the number of lines you have completed and removed from the bottom of the well. Using the joystick or key commands you can rotate the blocks as they fall, move them horizontally or drop them to the bottom of the well. Of course, the direction in which the joystick moves a block changes according to which wall it's on - if you get what I mean.
When a piece comes to a stop with one or more of its sections still on the wall, not on the floor of the well, that wall changes colour and becomes blocked. When they're all blocked, you lose. Alternatively, you can lose if pieces stack right to the top of any of the walls.
Now this all sounds as if it could add up to heaven on earth for the sort of demented dingbats who enjoyed Tetris - trouble is, unlike other versions of the game, in the Spectrum version the blocks are monochrome, not coloured. Since the grid is white-on-black too, the whole thing looks as boring as a Siberian landscape in the middle of winter. The artwork on the side of the screen - showing various Russian scenes and Pajitnov in his 'dacha' - isn't enough to liven things up, and on the tape version you're stuck with a picture of the Kremlin all the time anyway.
The sound is absolutely minimal, you have to go into +3 Basic to load the disk version, and there's a ridiculous protection system by which you have to type in the names of Russian republics from the handbook, after identifying from monochrome pictures of their flags. You try typing "Tadzhikistan" without making a mistake after three pints of vodka (and don't forget the capital letter!). The program thumbs its nose at you, and crashes after the second mistake - in fact, it even crashed once when I was utterly, utterly convinced I had typed the code-word in correctly.
Even allowing for the fact that Welltris is not my kind of game, this is a pretty poor effort which will do nothing to contribute to glasnost.
Label: Infogrames Memory: 48K/128K Price: £10.99 Tape, £15.99 Disk Reviewer: Chris Jenkins
Perestroika or not, this load of old Russian cabbage won't contribute anything to East-West relations.