I Tried to Play Tetris Effect With a Dance Pad (And Some Other Stuff)

Tetris Effect has had quite an… ahem… effect on our writers here at Fanbyte. Our glowing review and inspired list show that the game’s sights, sounds, and theme of togetherness do wonders for the Tetris formula and can stoke renewed interest in the puzzle genre. It’s just a damn good game no matter which way you play it—even if that way involves getting intoxicated.

For example, I got a bit drunk recently and found myself playing Tetris Effect (as one does). The alcohol took its toll on my reflexes, but I noticed something else affecting my ability to play: the standard DualShock 4 controller. My dumb thumb just couldn’t navigate the D-pad fast enough. So I wondered what the best alternative might be out of the supported (and unsupported) controllers out there.

One thing led to another, and later I was running every different kind of controller I could find through a universal converter and into Tetris Effect. Unfortunately, the racing wheel didn’t work, but here are the ones that did in order from least to most useful—whether you’re inebriated or not.

Tetris Effect Controller

6. Flight Stick

Pro: None. 

Nope. Nothing. Nada.

Con: Hypersensitivity.

Using a joystick to play Tetris Effect is like using a battleaxe to draw blood. It works, sure, but you get more than you bargained for. After matching it to default Tetris inputs, every slight wrist movement sent tetrominoes flying to one side of the board or crashing down onto the other poorly-placed blocks. Sure, I could change the button mappings, but there’s still no reason to use this over any other control method. Even motion controls would have (probably) been better.

Tetris Effect Controller

5. Arcade Stick

Pro: Inventive. Esports ready.

Despite its bulky size, I was actually able to do a few nifty things with the arcade stick. By rolling the stick either left-up or right-up, I could go from movement to a hard drop almost instantly. The large face buttons also made it quick and easy to rotate pieces and activate the “Zone” effect.

Con: Imprecise.

The arcade stick has basically the same problem as a flight stick: you just shouldn’t use a “stick” of any kind to play Tetris. More often than not, I would get a hard drop when I was just trying to move a tetromino into place. Tetris Effect only needs four directional inputs, so an eight-way controller creates more problems than it’s worth.

Tetris Effect Controller

4. Dance Pad

Pro: Good workout. Makes you look very cool and physically attractive.

It may be a pain in the ass to set up, but playing Tetris on a dance pad is both fun and healthy! At least assuming you don’t slip and fall on your ass. Not only are you getting your cardio, but “dancing” along with the audiovisual magic of Tetris Effect is oddly hypnotic—as long as you don’t mind looking like an idiot as you stomp around just to move and rotate T-blocks.

Con: Slow (and exhausting).

As fun as it is, a dance pad is by far the slowest way to control the game. Faster levels (and they get pretty fast in Tetris Effect) become impossible when you simply can’t move your three-foot meat stilts as fast as a thumb. Constantly having to step up, left, right, and down also wore me out and prevented any kind of extended play session with this thing. Maybe healthier people wouldn’t have a problem…

Tetris Effect Controller

3. Mouse

Pro: One-handed control.

A mouse is the most enjoyably lazy way to play Tetris Effect that I could find. Kick back in any position and use your other hand for whatever else—like drinking a beer, in my case—while you move, spin, and drop tetrominos with relative ease. As long as your mouse has a wheel and at least two side buttons, it’s a perfect fit for those “Relax” modes without fail states.

Con: Slippery rotation.

I needed those extra buttons so I could rotate and hold pieces independently of the left and right mouse buttons. However, that comes with its own issues. The only real way to rotate on a mouse is with the mouse wheel. It may be super fast, but you’re controlling something meant for your thumbs with your finger. Think about that. Now try typing at your keyboard with only your thumbs. It’s a pretty similar feeling. I do not recommend this for higher difficulties.

Tetris Effect Controller

2. Keyboard

Pro: Plenty of buttons.

Customization is the name of the game when playing Tetris Effect on a keyboard. With so many keys to choose from, I could bind my inputs anywhere and being left- or right-handed no longer mattered. Assign all your buttons within reach of one hand, or split them across the keyboard? The completely unnecessary choice is yours!

Con: Too many buttons.

The problem with so many buttons is that, once I decided which few of them I was going to use, the others just got in the way. As the pace of the game quickened, I was more and more likely to hit a key that did nothing—especially on a mechanical keyboard with keys that are designed to be extremely pressure sensitive. 

Tetris Effect Controller

1. Hit Box

Pro: Fast, accurate, and easy to use.

This relatively obscure version of the arcade stick has one crucial difference: there’s no actual stick. Instead, there are four directional buttons for your left hand and eight arcade-style buttons for your right. In other words, it’s perfect for Tetris Effect. Every possible input felt equally smooth and rapid, plus there was no need to shift my hands to any other buttons. All in all, the Hit Box was the only controller that I preferred over the ol’ DualShock 4.

Con: Not enough hand space.

If there’s a complaint to be had with the Hit Box, it’s the overall size. You have to place your hands on it like a keyboard, but there’s no actual space to rest your palms. Even though it’s the quickest and most accurate way to play Tetris Effect that I’ve discovered, your wrists won’t thank you for it. I was only able to play for so long before needing to a healthy break. Nonetheless, I still wanted to get back into it as soon as I could.