Tetris 99 Explained

Donkey Kong never gets fatigued throwing barrels, Mario gets killed by touching a goomba, but can throw fire, Mike Tyson can kill you with one punch and you NEVER will get a line tetromino when you need it! These are just a few laws of video gaming that we all know. Nintendo recently announced a new game “Tetris 99” during its February Direct and its a free battle Royale style Tetris game for Nintendo Switch Online subscribers.

Tetris 99 gameplay


When we posted this article we slightly altered a Reddit posting without giving credit. This was a mistake. Thank you to Wiwiweb for compiling such useful info. We are sorry. We wanted to help share some great info.

Check out the official Reddit post here

Tetris 99 is classic Tetris with a twist. It puts you up against 99 other players in an intense battle to see who is supreme. In the short time I’ve had with the game, I’ve became addicted. The game does lack a tutorial explaining the battle  mechanics. Here’s the official Nerd Jock Blog guide

Classic Tetris rules

First off, the scoring system works just like your typical Tetris versus game:

You do Garbage lines sent
1 line 0 lines (But with combo or attackers bonuses, you might send lines anyway)
2 lines 1 line
3 lines 2 lines
Tetris (4 lines) 4 lines
T-spin single/double/triples 2/4/6 lines
Back to back (Tetrises or T-spins) +2 lines (or +50%, which might take into account combos and badges, not sure yet)
1,2 Combo +1 line
3,4 Combo +2 lines
5,6 Combo +3 lines
7 and more Combo +4 lines

Each attack that you receive appears on the left column as yellow blocks. If you wait 2 seconds, they become red, then 2 more seconds and they’ll be red flashing.

(That time becomes shorter as the players drop out, down to 0.5 seconds in the top 10).

The red flashing blocks will be added at the bottom on your stack on the very next piece you lock.

If your screen is flashing red, then that means the attack that’s in your queue is going to kill you (or almost kill you), so you NEED to cancel it out.

During the time the attack is in the left column, the garbage lines that you create will not be sent out, but will simply cancel out the ones that are in your queue. I’m not entirely certain yet but I think doing this buys you more time too (e.g. flashing red blocks will not appear immediately if you clear a line, giving you one more turn)

Because the attacks are on a timer, you can play a bit faster and more reckless if that gets you the line piece needed to defend yourself.

Also, each incoming attack has its own timer that will not start until the previous attack is cleared or appears. If you see grey blocks in your queue, that means these blocks are waiting for the previous blocks to do their thing. That means combo attacks, or attacks from multiple players, give you more time.

So far, exactly the same as a normal tetris game, though to note that in a 1v1 game, it doesn’t really matter if you send 4 lines, or cancel your own 4 lines of garbage, since the net result is +4 for you. But in this 99 player game, it’s much more important to defend yourself, since the lines you send only hurt 1 player out of 98.

The number of lines you’re sending will show as a white number.

Battle Royale!

Believe it or not, you need to kill players in order to get loot and become stronger.

If an attack you sent pushes the other player into the death zone, you kill them. You’ll hear a robot voice say KO when that happens.

(I’m not sure yet but I believe there can only be one person that gets the kill, so that would be the attack that actually pushes the player over the edge).

Each player you kill gives you one fraction of a KO badge (one badge bit). You also steal all the badges and badge bits they had.

Those badges add an attack bonus to your line number. That bonus is shown as “xx% UP”.

Badges Badge bits Bonus Lines
1st badge 2 badge bits +25% lines
2nd badge 4 badge bits (6 total) +50% lines
3rd badge 8 badge bits (14 total) +75% lines
4th badge (maximum) 16 badge bits (30 total) +100% lines

This is very important. If you end in the top 10 with no badges you’re going to die very soon as you’ll need 2 tetrises to cancel out their single one. They’ll also be able to defend your attacks ridiculously easily using even single or double line clears. It’s basically the equivalent of ending up in the last circle of Fortnite with grey loot.


Now that you understand how to make attacks you want to now send the killing blow. Here’s how you’ll do that.

The game lets you select one of 4 targeting strategies with the right stick, plus manual targeting with the left stick. You can also invert the left and right sticks in the options.

You can change target at any time. Your target will show as a green hexagon.

You can also tell who’s targeting you with a yellow line from their screen to yours. The game will tell you “Watch out” at the bottom.

Randoms (Stick left)

This is the default option.

The target will be switched to a new random one every time you send an attack, so it doesn’t seem like a worthwhile choice.

Badges (Stick right)

Selects the player with the the highest Badge count. Given that you steal all Badges from the players you kill, it might be attractive to always go for that option. However that player is probably highly skilled, with bonus damage, and in my experience you’re not going to kill them easily. If you notice they’re in trouble though, it might be worth switching to go for the kill steal.

If there is a tie, it just picks one at random.

I wouldn’t recommend using this at the very beginning of the game, since the badge leader is gonna change a lot, and you’d rather be focusing on one person.

KOs (Stick up)

This seems to target people close to death, but it switches target pretty fast, and doesn’t seem to get you the kill credit very often. My theory is that by the time it targets someone who’s flashing red, they probably have a couple attacks queued up, and you are just adding attacks at the end of the queue, probably too late before they die.

Attackers (Stick down)

Targets everyone who’s targeting you. It has several hidden mechanics: First off, this is the only way you can ever attack several people at once. Your attack is split between the opponents. But you also get bonus lines if more than one person is attacking you!

Nb of attackers Bonus lines per attack sent
1 0
2 1
3+ 3+ (as many as attackers)


This seems like a good defensive option. However, the simple fact that you end up attacking more people (even with fewer lines each), means you have more chances to target beginners and get easy kills. So counter-intuitively, this can end up getting you a good amount of KOs too.

If you can’t keep focus on targeting, I would say this is the option to go for. Ideally you would switch to it only when you are attacked by 2 or more people.

Manual targeting (Left stick)

You can also select individual opponents manually with the left stick. I would not recommend this method unless you are highly skilled and precise with the left stick. It is my experience that this method of targeting diverts my attention to much and leaves me scrambling to not misplace a piece.

Like what you’ve read? Want more? Check out our Youtube channel here: Nerd Jock Blog Youtube

Follow us on Twitter: @NerdJockBlog33

Happy Tetris(ing)!

Like what you’ve read? Want more? Check out our Youtube channel here: Nerd Jock Blog Youtube

Follow us on Twitter: @NerdJockBlog33

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