Tetris

aka: Tetris: The Soviet Challenge
Moby ID: 1630
Amiga Specs
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Description official descriptions

The original commercially-licensed version of Alexey Pajitnov's classic Tetris puzzle game. Geometric shapes fall from the top of a playfield to rest on the bottom; fit the pieces together, and the line they form disappears. If the pieces don't form lines and eventually stack up to the top of the playfield, the game is over. Difficulty increases by dropping the pieces faster and faster over time.

Spellings

  • Тетрис - Cyrillic spelling

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Credits (Amiga version)

21 People (13 developers, 8 thanks)

Original Tetris concept by
Original design and program by
Amiga version programmed by
Program graphics for Amiga version by
Music by
Amiga music player by
Addendum by
Producer
Manual Written by
Manual Layout
Package Design
Special thanks to

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 72% (based on 12 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 92 ratings with 2 reviews)

Tetris owns!

The Good
(Don't worry, this won't take long)

One of the best things to come out of Soviet Russia, Tetris is a simple yet insanely addictive puzzle game. Bricks fall down from the top of the screen, and you have to shift and rotate them so they land in unbroken, horizontal lines. Every time you make a line, it gets removed and you get more playing space. You lose if the bricks pile up to the top of the screen. Tetris is a unique combination of logic, pattern-recognition, and reflexes. It's a game anyone can play and enjoy.

Tetris was and still is a cultural phenomenon. The music was originally a Russian folk song, but does anyone recognize it as that? Hell no, it's the theme from Tetris! The little electronic blips the game makes when you rotate a piece have burned themselves into my memory forever. I've had dreams about playing Tetris. What makes Tetris so special? Personally I think it's like a jigsaw puzzle, it taps into the innate "housekeeper" part in all of us that wants to turn chaos into order. Some psychologists even draw Freudian comparisons to the game, although maybe that's taking things too far.

The game's low memory and graphical requirements mean it has been ported to virtually everything with a LED screen, including calculators and wristwatches and key chains. Tetris is the most ported game in history, nothing else even comes close.

Plus you can do weird stuff like arranging the bricks so they spell your name. I suggest you try it if your PSP or DS gets stolen and you've only got a Gameboy to play with.

The Bad
Nothing. Tetris is awesome.

The Bottom Line
Playing Tetris hardly feels like playing a video game. For me at least, it feels like participating in a séance or mind-link with the pieces I'm manipulating. If you think that sounds completely stupid...well...I can't disagree. When you've played a game as many hours as I, it's OK if you're not completely objective when reviewing it.

But seriously, it's been scientifically proven that playing Tetris leads to more efficient brain activity<sup>1</sup>. I'm sure there have been countless parents who refused to buy their kids Mario or Pacman but relented when it came to Tetris because "it's a brain game." Besides, Tetris is one of the few games a kid could conceivably get his parents hooked on.

DOS · by Maw (832) · 2007

Simple, but frustrating

The Good
Tetris is a popular game that came out of the Soviet Union courtesy of Alexey Pajitnov. It was released on every system you can think of, and various spin-offs were made over the years. I became familiar with it when I played the IBM PC version of the game on my cousin’s computer. Its simple, but frustrating, gameplay got me hooked. The first version for the Amiga was produced by Mirrorsoft. Another version was created by Spectrum Holobyte a year later, and this is the version I will be reviewing.

Various pieces of different shapes and colors (known as “tetrominoes”) fall down inside a box in the center of the screen. These pieces can be rotated and dropped, and your job is to make a line of squares inside the box. Do this right, and the line disappears. When you have completed ten lines, the level will advance and the pieces start to fall faster. The game ends when the box is filled with broken lines and there is no space left. Each piece is manipulated by using the middle keys on the keypad, and pressing 2 drops them. The surrounding keys change the level and let you see which piece is going to fall next. Various information – such as key assignments, information on the next piece, level number, and description – can be toggled on or off during the game.

You can play the game at any level and choose how many random blocks you want in play. The game refers to this as the “height”, and it adds to the challenge; you have to fit whatever piece you have in the gaps. Players who got the hang of the game with an empty box, even at different levels, should try playing with these random blocks. Tournaments of up to six people are available, with or without a time limit.

Well-drawn backdrops depicting Russian scenes such as the Kremlin Wall and Lenin Stadium are accompanied by short classic tunes that never grow tiring, even when you choose to have them on a continuous loop. Some tunes are familiar to me, while others were not. The high score table lists the ten recent players, and the backdrop here is a space scene similar to the one in the last level.

The Bad
Although I memorized what keys need to be pressed to manipulate the pieces, I also changed the level by accident.

The Bottom Line
Tetris is a great game that saw a release on every popular system you can think of. Manipulate the pieces you have been given in a way that you can make full lines on the bottom of the box – that’s about it, really. The graphics and sound in this version of the game are quite good, and you will play this game for many years to come.

Amiga · by Katakis | カタキス (43087) · 2021

Trivia

1001 Video Games

Tetris appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

DOS version

Included in the original DOS commercial release package was a memory-resident version of Tetris, with graphical backgrounds and all. It took up over 50K of precious DOS RAM, but Tetris could be played instantly from within any application.

Licensing history

From the BBC documentation Tetris: From Russia With Love (2004):

In the late 80s, when Tetris was under the control of the Soviet Union's electronic gaming department, the man responsible, Mr Belikov, managed to masterfully play the West at its own capitalist game in what stands as an interesting footnote to The Cold War.

Belikov cut tycoon Robert Maxwell out of the equation (who made threats about damaging trade with the UK all the way to his contacts in The Kremlin), meaning that rights that had already been sold on to Atari via a Hungarian entrepreneur called Robert Stein were null and void. Henk Rogers, a lone producer who had picked up games for the Japanese market, went to Moscow and managed to secure both the rights to handheld and home console Tetris for Nintendo from under everyone's nose. Belikov held meetings with Stein, Rogers and Maxwell Jr on the same day, playing one off against the other!

Alexey Pajitnov, who wrote the original game whilst working at the state's computer centre in Moscow, only started to make money from Tetris royalties in the past few years. He emigrated to the US and, as of 2004, works for Microsoft.

Records

As of 2008 Tetris is listed in the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition as the most ported game, appearing on 55 different computer game platforms.

References to the game

Tetris turns up, of all places, in Thomas Pynchon's 2006 novel Against the Day, around page 100:

The ship in the distance was distinguished by an envelope with the onionlike shape---and nearly the dimensions, too---of a dome on an Eastern Orthodox church, against whose brilliant red surface was represented, in black, the Romanoff crest, and above it, in Gold Cyrillic lettering, the legend BOL'SHAIA IGRA, or, "The Great Game." It was readily recognized by all as the flagship of Randolph's mysterious Russian counterpart---and, far too often, nemesis---Captain Igor Padzhitnoff [...]

The parallel organization at St. Petersburg, known as the Tovarishchi Slutchainyi, was notorious for promoting wherever in the world they chose a program of mischief, much of its motivation opaque to the boys, Padzhitnoff's own specialty being to arrange for bricks and masonry, always in the four-block fragments which had become his "signature," to fall on and damage targets designated by his superiors. This lethal debris was generally harvested from the load-bearing walls of previous targets of opportunity.

Title

The word "Tetris" comes from the ancient Greek "tetra", which means "four".

Awards

  • ACE
    • October 1988 (issue #13) - Included in the Top-100 list of 1987/1988 (editorial staff selection)
    • February 1991 (issue #41) - Included in the list Greatest Games of all Time, section Puzzle Games (editorial staff choice)
  • Amiga Power
    • May 1991 (issue #00) - #85 in the "All Time Top 100 Amiga Games"
  • Computer Gaming World
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #14 on the "150 Best Games of All Time" list
    • November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) – #14 Most Innovative Computer Game
    • April 1999 (Issue #177) - Introduced into the Hall of Fame
  • EGM
    • November 1997 (Issue 100) - ranked #7 (Titles That Revolutionized Console Gaming)
    • November 1997 (Issue 100) - ranked #1 (Best 100 Games of All Time)
    • February 2006 (Issue #200) - #4 out of 200 on the "Greatest Games of Their Time" list
  • Game Informer Magazine
    • August 2001 (Issue #100) - #3 in the "Top 100 Games of All Time" poll
  • GameSpy
    • 2001 – #19 Top Game of All Time
  • GameStar (Germany)
    • Issue 01/2007 - One of the "Ten Most Influential PC-Games" (It requires both timing and organized thinking, something which only electronic games can achieve, is easy to access and forgoes violence. It also is one of the most-played games of all time and the grandfather of today's casual games.)
  • Power Play
    • Issue 01/1989 - Best Game Idea in 1988
  • ST Format
    • August 1991 (Issue #8) – #11 Top Atari ST Classic Games (Editorial staff vote)
    • January 1993 (issue #42) - #37 in '50 finest Atari ST games of all time' list

Information also contributed by Adam Baratz, Paul Jones, PCGamer77, Pseudo_Intellectual, Sciere, Steve Thomspon and Unicorn Lynx

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Related Sites +

  • Tetris Top
    A nice site dedicated to the original game plus variations. Includes history of the game, articles relating to it, and information about many games.
  • The Tetris Saga
    The story behind the legal battle for Tetris licensing rights.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 1630
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Old man gamer.

Apple II added by Rockin' Kat. Amiga added by Xoleras. Macintosh added by Servo. Apple IIgs added by Игги Друге. Atari ST added by Belboz.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Terok Nor, Servo, Jeanne, Alaka, Игги Друге, Patrick Bregger, Jo ST, FatherJack.

Game added February 19, 2020. Last modified February 13, 2024.