How to Play Tetris 99 on Nintendo Switch

Tetris tips to enjoy this free multiplayer game

Tetris 99 video game on the Nintendo Switch.

Nintendo

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Tetris 99 is an official Tetris game released on the Nintendo Switch in early-2019. It was a free title for all Nintendo Switch Online subscribers to play as a part of the online service and was solely focused on its 99-player online multiplayer mode.

Anyone can technically download Tetris 99 from the Nintendo eShop, but a Nintendo Switch Online membership is required to play the online multiplayer mode.

What is Tetris 99?

Tetris 99 is based on the original Tetris puzzle title released on a variety of video game platforms in 1984. It eventually made its way to the Nintendo Game Boy in 1989 where it quickly garnered mainstream popularity.

Tetris 99 video game on Nintendo Switch
Nintendo

Many iterations of Tetris have been released on a variety of mobile platforms and video game consoles over the years, with each new version typically following the same gameplay focus of clearing lines of Tetris blocks—officially referred to as Tetriminos—by filling gaps within the horizontal lines within the gameplay area.

Various Tetris games have experimented with online multiplayer modes, but Tetris 99 is the first one in the franchise to support online matches with as many as 99 people. Due to the large number of players in Tetris 99 online matches, many liken the title to popular battle royale video games such as Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds, which also pit a lot of players against each other in a fight to be the last person standing.

While those battle royale games are mostly action titles, Tetris 99 is purely a puzzle game and is frequently referred to as a battle royale puzzle title.

Several months after release, several offline modes were added as part of a paid downloadable content (DLC) bundle called the Big Block DLC. This added traditional local multiplayer modes for up to eight players on one Nintendo Switch and a variety of challenging modes for solo players.

Where Can I Download Tetris 99?

Tetris 99 is available for free from the Nintendo eShop on the Nintendo Switch, while the Big Block DLC can be purchased from the main title’s product page in the same store. The Tetris 99 game and DLC can also be purchased from the official Tetris 99 website.

Tetris 99 is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch and is not available anywhere else. Any smartphone apps or internet downloads using the Tetris 99 name are likely fake and could contain dangerous malware or viruses.

A physical version of Tetris 99 is also available to buy in stores and online. This version of the game contains the online battle royale mode and all of the content from the Big Block DLC.

Do I Need Nintendo Switch Online to Play Tetris 99?

Yes. An active Nintendo Switch Online membership is still required to play almost all online video games and modes on the Nintendo Switch, including the Tetris 99 battle royale puzzle mode.

If you cancel your Nintendo Switch Online membership, you can no longer play any of Tetris 99's online multiplayer modes.

How to Play Tetris 99

Tetris 99 works in much the same way as the regular Tetris video game, wherein Tetriminos fall from the top of the screen and the player must move them with the joystick or direction buttons and form complete horizontal lines.

Tetris 99 2P Share Battle Mode.
Nintendo

When a horizontal line with zero gaps is formed, that line of Tetriminos disappears and the remaining blocks move down to take their place. If you fail to form complete lines, your Tetriminos will pile up and eventually reach the top of the screen. When this happens, it’s game over.

Tap Up on the D-Pad, or the directional buttons on the left side of the controller or Joy-Con, to make a Tetrimino fall faster once you have it lined up. This maneuver is frequently referred to as a Hard Drop and can dramatically increase the speed of which you clear lines.

As you clear lines of blocks, you’ll earn points and gradually progress through higher levels, which will drop more blocks on you at faster speeds.

Tetris 99 online battle royale mode on Nintendo Switch.
 Nintendo

In multiplayer games of Tetris, the Tetriminos you clear often get teleported to an opponent’s screen and push their blocks higher, increasing their chances of losing and you winning. In Tetris 99, this block allocation is set to Random by default, but you can manually select what sort of player receives your discarded Tetriminos by tapping the right joystick and choosing from the menu within the background of your game field.

If you’re playing Tetris 99 with a single Joy-Con, you press Right or Down buttons to rotate blocks, press Top or Left buttons to select a target, and press Up on the Joy-Con to quickly drop a block.

Here’s what each option does:

  • Random: Sends your cleared blocks to a completely random player.
  • K.O.s: Dumps your Tetriminos into players’ games that are close to losing.
  • Badges: Sends your blocks to a player with the most K.O. badges, a reward each player gets when they defeat someone. If you defeat them, you get their badges. The more badges you have, the more powerful your attacks are.
  • Attackers: Sends Tetriminos at players who are targeting you.

Almost all of the additional offline modes in Tetris 99 are identical to the online battle royal mode, but feature computer-controlled players filling in the spots for all of the online opponents. The only exception is the Marathon mode, which is purely single-player and plays just like the original Tetris video game with no opponents or targeting requirements.

What is a Tetris T Spin?

While playing Tetris, it’s possible to quickly shift blocks left or right as they’re slowly falling to squeeze them into places they wouldn’t typically fit if you just dropped them straight down. Sometimes a quick, last minute rotation is needed to get them into place.

A T-block Tetromino in Tetris 99 on Nintendo Switch doing a T spin..
Nintendo

When this is done with a T-block, the Tetrimino that looks like the letter T, the move is called a T Spin. T Spins are popular with Tetris players as they usually take a bit of practice to pull off due to the challenging shape of the T-block.

Mastering the T Spin isn’t really required to be a pro Tetris player, or to even win matches, but it can be useful for getting out of a jam as the available spots begin to fill up while playing.

For most players, having fast reaction times and the ability to plan ahead are the two most-important gaming skills in most Tetris games, including Tetris 99.