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The Slacker's Guide - Tetris Brought Up to Speed: Quinn

by Chris Barylick
September 15th, 2006

It probably wouldn't matter how old you are or what you happen to be doing. Listen to the theme song and you're back in the middle of one of the greatest video games ever released for any platform. 21 years after its initial creation by Alexey Pazhitov, Tetris remains one of the coolest puzzle games to grace the over 200 platforms the game was ported to.

Simon Haertel's Quinn, a freeware adaptation of Tetris for Mac OS X, remains as faithful as any fan of the game could hope for. Completely blended to an Aqua interface style, the game, which features both single and multiplayer support, keeps a great title alive while adding new features as well.

Networked gameplay via Bonjour in Simon Haertel's Quinn.

Like the original, Quinn has the player sorting falling blocks to form lines and clear them from the screen for points. Blocks can be rotated as well as instantly dropped to move on to the next piece. The pace of the game, which became the best, worst and most addictive aspect of the original, is retained in Quinn. Clear enough pieces to advance to the next level and the speed of the game will pick up from almost annoyingly slow to a frenzied setting where the player has almost no time to plan where a piece will go.

Beyond nostalgia for a classic game, Haertel has done his homework and it shows. Clear, bright graphics set the mood for the game while excellent sound helps set a hurried tone as the game progresses. Easily configured keys allow the player to map the controls as they see fit. A Bonjour interface allows players to join or host local games, and a live Internet function makes it easy to post personal high scores to online bulletin boards.

Classic in Aqua form.

The ultimate Tetris-clone litmus test isn't in the graphics, sound or networking, but in what the game returns to the player in terms of what they remember and what they experience. Simon Haertel's version is as true to the original version as possible and after a few clumsy attempts, the Tetris reflexes and mindset return fairly quickly. The transition from them to now, despite the brighter graphics and interface, is completely natural and the old instincts return within 15 minutes.

Quinn is a freeware game with source code available for download and use by anyone interested in creating their own version. The game is a 3.2 megabyte downloads which expands to 8.6 megabytes when installed. Quinn is available in three versions (a Mac OS X 10.1 version, a Mac OS X 10.2 version and a Tiger version for Mac OS X 10.4.2 or later), and the game runs cleanly and without errors to date.

Tetris may not be Haertel's creation, but he does an extremely faithful job of recreating the game for Mac OS X and adding some cool new features in the process. The heart of the game remains untouched and frequent updates show that the project listens to feedback and takes care of bugs as they emerge. Perfect for both casual and extended play, give this a shot and see what you make of it. Comments are also welcome, so drop a line at the game's forums if you have an idea for a future version.

That wraps it up for this week. As always, if you see anything new, cool or useful in the Mac universe,


Chris Barylick covers games for The Mac Observer, and has written for Inside Mac Games, MacGamer, UPI, the Washington Post, and other publications.

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