Wednesday, January 25, 2012

GIVEAWAY:Tetris Link - Where a Diversity of Smarts Can Flourish

You always know what's your score  photo courtesy: Techno Source

WHAT: Tetris Link  (NOT a video game- for real)
DOES: capitalize on your strengths as you improve any of the following skills: being flexible, mentally moving objects before moving them in real life, and math skills
INVEST: $26.99 Suggested Retail ($22 on Amazon today)
TOOLS: Lose and Win Gracefully, Social Scene Helper (if you are great at this game and like teaching), Think Like a Scientist/Engineer (for thinking spatially)
SEE details for giveaway below

"Is this for real?" was my first thought when I found a lone box quietly waiting to be picked up in a Pennsylvannia Toys 'R Us on a Black Friday morning.  There were no others in sight.  It might have been the last one or was I seeing things?

Tetris doesn't come in a box!  It's a video game!  Who makes tabletop games out of video games? *  I was about to buy it but I was still in a state of disbelief so I figured I'd research it a bit more before I make an investment.

As I looked into it more, I was able to confirm that I wasn't seeing things.  This game is very real.  In fact, it is a game that was nominated by the Toy Industry Association for "Game of the Year."  Tetris Link is a real-life game that you can play with friends and family.  No batteries, screen, or wi-fi required.  It's just a game with pieces that go down a flat-paneled shoot.  The pieces, called Tetriminoes are brightly colored and are the actual shapes that you play with in the video game.

How to Play this Game for More than One Player

If you are like me, then you have played Tetris but have not played any other subsequent Tetris video games out there.  I think there are a lot.  But the Tetris game in the most original form can only be played alone and it can have another person play with you but only after you "die." I humbly invite anyone to tell me I'm wrong here. I have nothing against kids or adults playing video games at a moderate frequency.  I just don't know a lot about video games because I am bad at them.   I guess that is why I never became a laparoscopic surgeon.

Challenge: Play Offensively with Ever-Changing Variables

Tetris Link makes playing the game with others possible by assigning one color to each player. The task is to get your own pieces to connect with each other and score points.  You can't choose which piece to use because that is decided by the roll of a special die that comes with the game.  You also don't know what your opponent will do and thus the playing field is constantly changing.  The reliable shift in variables requires constant flexibility.  Flexibility is hard to accomplish sometimes in kids. It is probably worse in grown-ups but it's not about us, is it?

Additionally, you can make it so that your opponent has less of a chance to score.  I really like that and I am not a mean person.  I suppose you can manage to play in a less aggressive way but I love how games let you practice taking a swing at your competition in a comfortable non-real-world setting.   A child that is okay with losing a bit can definitely handle this game.  Kids can be as aggressive as they want to be here.  I like that.  Go ahead, give your father a smackdown!

As you can see, yellow had to lose points because of all the empty spaces.

Number 1 can give a good smackdown with this game as it is great for the visual-spatial thinker.  You are not required to make tons of discussion and the rules are fairly clear. You even lose points if you render spaces unfilled and thus you and definitely your opponent are doing math equations simultaneously and spatially. When is the last time you did the same math equation at the same time with someone else?  You should be doing it when you are buying something with cash but who does that now?   Because there are rules with scoring, this game is not as simple as some of the other games I've reviewed but having some rules isn't always bad.  I think in a lot of strategic games, like chess, you can't avoid having a good number of rules.

What Do Strategy Games Do For Number 1?

Well for one, he gets really really quiet.   But I don't encourage him to play strategic games to create a quieter home.  For me, strategic games helps my child practice thinking ahead.  He and many other children need to practice this.

My son asks "what if" all the time and I see evidence of "what if" everywhere around my house.

His thought: What if I opened this pen while I was in the bathtub?

Me: Hey, is that my pen? What are you....?  Did you just break....?!

Him: I was just curious.

Or how about this?

His thought: What if I opened this toy car? Will it show me how the batteries work?  Hey, it just won't open! Maybe I can crack it open?

Me: What's that noise?  (car wheels revving incessantly) Hey, why are you playing with wires?!?!?!

Him: I was just curious. 

I really want my son to be very curious but at the same time I need him to visualize his future moves better.  He needs to be able to see the steps ahead as much as he can.  To me, strategizing can be done with good visual-spatial skills but it's not one in the same.

BUT......... I can use his strong visual-spatial skills to help him practice strategy.  And that is where Tetris Link comes in.

Got an Impulsive Visual-Spatial Kid? 

Those tetriminoes are so simple and the way they fit with each other leave no room for discussion.  They either fit or they don't.  However, being a great visual thinker with such clear cut pieces and graph lines to help you mark their place in space helps your child visualize his next most ideal moves to help him win and protect himself from his opponents.  An unexpected move from his opponent could propel him to once again be flexible and strategize.  This must be done quickly.  This is hard but the motivation is the visual-spatial aspect.  These tetriminoes will likely capture and keep his interest. If your kid likes the video game, think of how he'd feel holding a tetrimino in his hand.

Hear Ye Math Geeks: This One's For You

When's the last time you played a game with negative numbers?  Have you ever?  Yes, some games ask you to tally scores but negative integers are a first (for me at least) and this game will always require at least a little math to be done in your head.   The great part is that in whatever side of the board you are sitting, you will always be able to see your score.  Just like a video game.  That's neat.

This game says that kids can play starting age six.   I think that is a correct assessment even though negative numbers are taught in 4th or 5th grade. Perhaps you may be the first one to explain to your child what is a negative number?  Don't worry.... The negative number problem solving is very basic and kids who like math, like Number 1, feel very proud to do these computations.

So Kids Bad at Math and Spatial Thinking Cannot Play?

Absolutely not.  To me, because this game requires some emotional maturity to win and lose gracefully, if your child is a happy-go-lucky kid, he can benefit.   This is because what he'll bring to the table is his self-confidence to learn while he's likely losing to other kids.  Whenever you play a strategic game with a kid, being able to model winning and losing gracefully is a must.  It takes an emotionally healthy soul to come to the table and say "teach me."  You ever notice that those very content kids have the most friends and you look at them and know that even though his parents are real nice folk, those kids were kind of born with the gift of being socially smart.

Another important note: up to 4 players can play this game and thus someone who is less skilled can still play without messing up the flow of the game.  Number 2 (he's 5) plays with us sometimes and we have an unspoken rule not to play heavy offense with him until he starts beating us really bad.

Don't call me a geek because I dig this box.  Good boxes keep good games playable for years and years.  photo courtesy: Techno Source

Tetris Link is a game where a various types of kid intelligence (visual-spatial, logical-math, emotional) can come together and have lots of fun.  The game itself comes in a very sturdy box and the game "board" fits very snug in the box.  (I love that! I dislike games pieces swishing around in a box)**.  Keep those game pieces in a plastic baggie and keep them separated when you are putting it away.  That way, when you decide to play, you can just set up quickly and start.  Lastly, if you are presenting this to your kids, I highly suggest that you read the direction first. (You just have to here... sorry).  There will be questions about scoring for sure and you must be ready to answer them.

Also, be prepared.  This is another game where younger butts have kicked older butts.

If your kid likes this game, don't miss out on the history.  Tetris was developed by a computer programmer in Russia almost 28 years ago.  This game is probably three times older than them.   The fact that it was so enjoyed by many and is now sitting on your coffee table in front of you 28 years later will hopefully provide your child a sense that one single person can make a huge impact in the world.  Read about the inventor, Alexey Patjinov: Here

SUPER BONUS:  The Giveaway Prize is a Tetris Link game of your very own, shipped to an address of your choice as long as it is in within the 50 states of the U.S.   See details below to enter.
Giveaway ends: 2/10/12 at 12:01 AM

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* Number 1 says: Er, Mom, sorry to tell you this but Angry Bird Knock On Wood and Angry Birds On Thin Ice is another real-life touch and feel translation of a popular video game.

**See my post that discusses my techniques in game box preservation.  People might laugh at you but you will have a game with all the pieces and they will be throwing theirs in the garbage.

Disclosure: Toys are Tools has not been compensated in any fashion by the manufacturer or retailer of any of the mentioned products in exchange for the publication of this post.  Techno Source did submit a product for review.  Techno Source is also supplying the giveaway prize. Thanks Techno Source!    Toys are Tools obtained permission to use the 1st and last photo in this post.  See FAQ regarding links.


  1. This game looks great for some of the very visual-spatial kids in my class. I will be curious to see how competitive it gets or doesn't get. I like games that can be shifted from being competitive to collaborative depending on how they are played.

  2. Maybe a "gateway" game to the real world? My son is way too into video games so this could surely atract his atention.

  3. I love that you can play TETRIS without an electronic device. This would be great for visual spatial development but also for problem solving skills.

  4. This is perfect! I was looking for a fun way my daughter can improve her math skills. Thanks for finding this game!

  5. I loved playing Tetris as a teen. I bought a small hand-held version about 5 years ago. My 9 y/o discovered it a couple years ago and took to it immediately. I would love a real life version to play with him and my husband.

  6. Sounds like a wonderful game for my grandchildren. Love educational games that challenge and develop skills without seeming like 'homework'.

  7. This looks so cool- I don't even know tetris. I spend lots of time trying to steer relatives to educational toys for holidays and birthdays- glad to have your site as a reference now.

  8. I used to love Tetris. I wonder if my daughter will like it. We've done some interesting pattern making using a Connect 4 game.

  9. Holy cow! I loved this game as a child and did not know they made it a real (not video) game. How cool! So excited to know about it.

  10. This is very cool, I never thought about it not being a video game! My son is in second grade and there are a lot of little boys in his class who would LVOE this!

  11. My math-inclined husband and son would love this, and I'd love that it gets them away from the screen.

  12. Your latest giveaway reminded me of this post, so I can came back to reread about this. I always loved tetris.

  13. I have had this game for years and use in my Pediatric OT practice. The kids love it!! The parents want to play with it too!. Great visual motor and fine motor game and I usually turn the sound off and play our own way.

  14. I love tetris, and the option to play against someone just ups the anti! Wish ist were a giveaway!!:)