Nintendo Retro Recap

Retro Recap: Tetris

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Whether you’re a hardened veteran gamer or someone who has never touched a console in their life, you will have undoubtedly heard of Tetris. I put many hours in this simple puzzler during my youth, and even now I find myself playing for hours on end when I pick the game up. But what makes this game so addictive? A game where you could literally sit for hours, doing the same thing over and over again. In the current era, games such as Devil May Cry are criticized for their repetitive nature, but something about Tetris dictates that it’s all part of the appeal.

Falling Blocks

What more is there to say about this gem? Everybody who’s anybody knows about Tetris and the woes which come with the puzzle experience. First off, the pieces. There are 7 pieces that are thrown at you at random. The square piece, the L and backwards L pieces, the T piece, everyone’s favourite line piece and then there’s those 2 annoyances known as the S and Z pieces (collectively, the squiggly pieces). These probably aren’t the official names given to the pieces though; it’s just what I always call them. I tend to find that everyone starts off a game in the same way: trying to build up a block with a gap left down the one side for the line piece to fit.

The resulting 4 line clear, or Tetris, is rather satisfying, yet this is where tactics begin to differ. A lot of players continue to do the whole big block – line piece Tetris clear until they lose, but others (me included) play in a manner that is based around what pieces actually appear. If I can get away with building a large block, then I will, but I like to fit pieces together to form nice patterns. Patterns that fit any situation, so I don’t end up being screwed over by those darn squigglies. As you clear 10 lines, your level goes up and the speed of the game increases. Every 10 lines, this pattern continues until the game gets so exponentially fast, that you need an almost god-like reaction time. I definitely accredit Tetris to my response time in day to day life. You don’t know what real hardship it until you can best level 20 on Tetris…

For those of you who had this game on the fat GameBoy system, like me, then you’ll remember the 2 different game types. Type A was the standard game where you just get as far as humanly possible. Type B, however, was more objective based, having the goal set at 25 lines to clear for each speed level. Sounds simple enough, yet there was also a “High” difficulty setting, when coupled with the speed setting gave for a interesting challenge. The High function dotted around the screen various bits and pieces and you had to work with less screen space. The pieces could be used as lines, but each little square was placed in rather awkward positions. Playing Type B on level 9, High 5 was brutal. Not only did you only have half a screen to work with, but the speed the pieces fell often left you with a game over screen before you’ve even assessed the situation.

Fun Facts about Tetris:

  • The Tetris pieces are actually known as Tetrominoes
  • Tetris was the first game to be ever played in space
  • Holding Down and Start buttons at the main menu of the GameBoy version of Tetris allows you to play the “heart levels” which are 10 times faster than the standard ones
  • The iconic Tetris theme is actually a Russian folk song known as Korobeiniki
  • Logically speaking, a game of Tetris is always doomed to fail. All the pieces can be interlocked, apart from the squiggly pieces which always take up one extra square of space

Box Cover

What was your first experience of Tetris, and what did you think of it? If you haven’t played Tetris, why not? Go play it now! Let us know your thoughts on the game in the comments section below!

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