“Tetris 99” on Nintendo Switch Guide: How to Play

Updated on June 20, 2019
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Jennifer Wilber is a teacher and writer. She holds a B.A. in English and an Associate's in Computer Game Design. She is a life-long gamer.

“Tetris 99” on Nintendo Switch Guide: How to Play
“Tetris 99” on Nintendo Switch Guide: How to Play

What is "Tetris 99?"

Tetris 99 is a competitive multiplayer battle-royale version of the classic puzzle game, Tetris. It is available to download for free in the Nintendo Switch eShop exclusively for Nintendo Switch Online members. In this unique reimagining of Tetris, players face off against 98 other players to see who can survive the longest. Players can target other players to attack, and targeted opponents can attack back. Attacking another player fills the bottom of their play area with garbage blocks, sending the top of their stack closer to the top of the screen, which results in a KO once the stack reaches the top.

Many players have expressed frustration at figuring out the controls and multiplayer aspects of this new version of Tetris. This guide will help you get started playing this competitive remake of the classic puzzle game.

"Tetris 99" title screen.
"Tetris 99" title screen. | Source


The controls are very similar to other versions of Tetris. The core gameplay doesn’t differ much from the original version, other than online multiplayer aspects.

Move Tetrimino left or right: left or right on d-pad

Soft drop: down on d-pad

Hard drop: up on d-pad*

Rotate right: A or Y

Rotate left: B or X

Hold Tetrimino: Left or right shoulder button

Change targeting option: Right stick

Manually target opponents: Left stick

*Hard drop can be turned off in the options menu for those who have a habit of accidentally pressing up on the d-pad too early.

The game play interface in "Tetris 99" is pretty straightforward, but there are some intricacies to get used to.
The game play interface in "Tetris 99" is pretty straightforward, but there are some intricacies to get used to. | Source


Before beginning Tetris 99, it is helpful to know what everything on the interface represents. The interface is pretty straightforward, but if you’ve never played Tetris before, you may want an explanation:

  • Your play area is at the center of the screen. This is where your blocks accumulate, and you play the game.
  • On the left and right sides of the screen, you can see all of your opponent’s game boards. This is useful for keeping an eye on their progress to choose targets, seeing how many opponents are left in the game, and keeping an eye on the players that are targeting you. There will be a green hexagon on the player(s) you are targeting, and yellow lines showing the players who are targeting you.
  • The upper left-hand side of your play area shows the Tetrimino that you are holding in reserve.
  • Below that on the left-hand side, you can keep an eye on in-coming attacks.
  • On the upper right-hand side of your play area, you can see the next five upcoming Tetriminos. Keep an eye on these to help plan your next moves.
  • Below this on the right-hand side shows what place you are in and how many badges you have earned.

"Tetris 99" is an exciting battle-royale spin on a classic puzzle game. There is one opponent about to attack.
"Tetris 99" is an exciting battle-royale spin on a classic puzzle game. There is one opponent about to attack. | Source

Attacking Opponents

As you clear multiple rows of blocks from your board and perform combos, you will be able to attack opponents by sending rows of garbage blocks to the bottom of their board, sending their stacks of blocks closer and closer to the top. (But be careful! Opponents will send garbage blocks to you as well!)

At the beginning of each match, you will see a menu showing you different targeting options for attacking opponents. This allows you to decide who you will send rows of garbage blocks to as you clear rows from your board.

Select the option you want by pressing the corresponding direction with the right analog stick. You can change your targeting option at any time during the match by using the right analog stick. Random is selected by default.

K.O.s: Sends garbage blocks to the player closest to getting knocked out of the round.

Randoms: Randomly chooses opponent to send garbage blocks.

Badges: Sends garbage blocks to the player with the most badges.

Attackers: Sends garbage blocks to opponents who are sending garbage blocks to you. This is the only mode where you can target multiple opponents at the same time.

You can also manually select players to target by using the left analog stick.

Badges are displayed on the lower right-hand side of the play area.
Badges are displayed on the lower right-hand side of the play area. | Source


In Tetris 99, players can earn badges by knocking out opponents. The more badges you have, the more garbage blocks you are able to send to your targeted opponents. Each badge earned increases your attack power (amount of garbage sent) by 25 percent.

You can earn up to four badges per game. You will receive the first badge with two K.O.s, the second badge with an additional four K.O.s, the third badge after eight additional K.O.s, and the fourth badge after 16 additional K.O.s.

The Badge System in "Tetris 99"

K.O.s Required
Attack Power Increase
4 more
8 more
16 more
Here is an example of a well that could allow the player to get a Tetris combo by dropping the long thin I-block, if only it weren't so far away.
Here is an example of a well that could allow the player to get a Tetris combo by dropping the long thin I-block, if only it weren't so far away. | Source

Special Techniques and Strategies

T-Spin: A T-Spin is technique for rotating a block into a position where it won’t fit with a regular drop. usually, this involves an overhang, where you drop a tetromino to the exact level of the overhang, then rotate it into place at the last possible moment. T-Spins double your combos, which power up your attacks.

Attack Bonus: If you are targeted by three or more attackers at the same time, you receive an attack bonus, which means you can send out more garbage blocks at a time. To take full advantage of this attack bonus, simply switch to targeting attackers (which is the only targeting mode that allows you to attack multiple opponents at a time) to send out the maximum amount of garbage when you clear rows.

Tetrises: To get a Tetris, you must clear four rows at the same time. The easiest way to get Tetrises is to create a “well,” four spaces high, and drop an l-Tetrimino (the long blue block).

Back-to-Back Combos: Get multiple Tetrises or T-Spins in a row to get a greater attack power boost.

Strategize Your Targets: You may want to start off using the K.O.s targeting mode to increase your amount of K.O.s early in the game. This can help you build up you badges to increase your attack power. Switch to Attackers when you see multiple people attacking you to maximize the amount of garbage blocks you are sending out. You may also want to manually target opponents that you see are near the top of their screen for easy K.O.s.

Use Hard Drops: Clear rows faster by using hard drops to instantly drop blocks once you have them lined up where you want them to fall (press up on d-pad).

"Tetris 99" menu screen during an active event.
"Tetris 99" menu screen during an active event. | Source

"Tetris 99" Online Events

Nintendo has announced that there will be various timed online events in Tetris 99 in which players have the change to win prizes.

The first Tetris 99 event in North America was the Tetris 99 Maximus Cup. This event took place Friday March 8th, 2019 through Sunday March 10th, 2019. In this event, players attempted to win first place in Tetris 99 matches as many times as possible. The 999 players with the highest tally of 1st place wins will receive 999 My Nintendo Gold Coins (worth $10 USD). A similar event also took place in Tetris 99 in the UK region. The UK region event was called the Tetris 99 Grand Prix.

The next Tetris 99 event will begin on June 21 and run through June 23, 2019. This event will be the fourth Tetris 99 Maximum Cup. According to Nintendo:

To participate, Nintendo Switch Online members just have to play the Tetris 99 online mode during the contest period. The top 999 players who earn the most event points in the allotted contest period will each earn 999 My Nintendo Gold Points, which can be redeemed for some cool games in Nintendo eShop on the Nintendo Switch system.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Jennifer Wilber


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