Nothing like a casual puzzle game to help you unwind from the chaos other people contribute to this world. I mean, we're here minding our own damn business, yet other people feel the need to interfere and disrupt our peaceful residence, as if what they're trying to prove makes them better than us (it doesn't). Nevertheless, it's time for FRAC! Judging from the floppy disk, and the description printed on the label, this isn't a game from the great Alexey Pajitnov.
This game is from Simsalabim Software—a self-publishing company that programmed and distributed DOS games back in the nineties. You may be wondering about the name of the game, FRAC, since developers didn't want to use the official name "Tetris" as it was, and still is, trademarked and registered. However, we made mention of "Tetris '3D'" as it was printed on the label of the disk (we jot down and go by everything we see on the product, prior to extensive research). The masterminds behind this game are Max Shapiro and Per Bergland.
This game of FRAC isn't like any other Tetris knockoff, it is in three dimensions! That's what neat about DOS games, being able to play independently developed games showcasing a programmer's talent, all while keeping rights reserved and not crossing the danger zone where they're likely to get sued. Anyway, the instructions to play this game are a little complicated so we took a screenshot (feel free to download and save the image, if you like):
On the bottom of the text, you see the phrase Lycka till! to wrap up the game instructions. That's a Swedish phrase meaning "Break a leg" or "Good luck."
The graphics are what you'd expect from a DOS game, and in this case, it's simple and nice to look at. However, that introduction with the background colors changing may cause seizures so be wary, if you've suffered from one before. The music, too, is as classic as you can get. It does get repetitive but it brings a nostalgic feel—a time when having a few minutes left on your lunch break to play a harmless game like this was the best part of getting through your work/school days. When others hear a soundtrack like this, their initial response is often, "Wow that's so old school," though you shrug it off because the nostalgia gives you a warm, giddy feeling that critics/haters can't ever find for themselves. As for the controls, they're responsive and work as they should so there isn't any funny glitches derailing your gameplay. Like the original Tetris, the game increases in difficulty, but the increase is crazy tough. It's very hard to keep up, especially being stuck using the keys on your keyboard to navigate, rotate and move the pieces.
Besides all that, it's one of those games that surely would've been nice if it came preinstalled on new PCs everywhere. Both Shapiro and Bergland have certainly outdone themselves with this simple and unique game (in all respects, Mr. Pajitnov will be proud). Enjoy my personal gameplay, as my play was rather mediocre at best.
Despite the rare nature of obtaining the physical copy of this game, you can download it for free, via emulation, on third-party websites. Mind you, the game has to be booted and loaded onto DOSBox or other alternative DOS emulation programs (you can try one called Boxer for the Macintosh system or DOSEMU for Linux).
When you quit the game, you get this screen:
Yeah, it's one of those Shareware products (now labeled as Abandonware). Doubtful that Mr. Shapiro still resides in that address so if you were to pay the registration fee, someone in that residence may just get lunch money (you can try if you want, for giggles). The software also notifies the user that the company has developed more games: FRAC4D and Beetris. A four-dimensional game programmed back in 1990? Man, we sure want to give it a try and talk about it on this website. Someday....
Speaking of which, being that this game hit the scene in 1990, it wasn't until 3D Tetris showed up for the Nintendo Virtual Boy in 1995. In no way have we implied that the idea was stolen or anything, but it does make you think.
If you're lucky enough to find a hard copy of this game, especially for your personal computer game collection, may as well snatch it as this game is a nice piece of forgotten history. Other than that, you can download this game for free and try the challenge for yourself!
|Game Title||FRAC (Tetris '3D')|
|Description||If you've played the original Tetris and found it boring then you'll love Tetris 3D. A 3-D game for the whole family. Rqs, VGA, Hard Drive, 640k, mouse supported.|
|Software Compatibility||IBM PC|
|ISBN / Bar Code number||????|
|Video Format||1.33:1 (4:3) / Full screen|
|Disk/CD Count||One (1) 3.5" floppy disk|
|Genre||Puzzle / Action|
|Licensed by||Simsalabim Software|
|Developer||Max Shapiro & Per Bergland|
|Copyright||Copyright, Simsalabim Software 1990.
Max Shapiro & Per Bergland
|Other||To Start Type GO
FRAC is a shareware product.
Feel free to make copies of it and pass them on to friends.
If you play FRAC more than twice, you are expected to
pay a registration fee of $10 to:
International House, Room 507
2299 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
U S A
Your registration fee entitles you to use this software on a single
computer and to make as many copies as you wish for backup
If you send us your mailing address and an additional $10 (making a total of
$20), we will send you a diskette with our two latest games:
* FRAC4D (to the best of our knowledge, this is the first serious
4-dimensional game ever made)
* BEETRIS (the game we personally like best - let it bee a surprize...)
We'll also send you the latest version of FRAC in case your copy is obsolete.