DescriptionThe 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.
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- "Тетрис" -- Cyrillic spelling
- "Tetris: The Soviet Challenge" -- DOS title
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1001 Video GamesTetris appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
DOS versionIncluded 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 historyFrom 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.
RecordsAs 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 gameTetris 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.
TitleThe word "Tetris" comes from the ancient Greek "tetra", which means "four".
- 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
- 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
- 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
Related Web 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.)
- Wikipedia (The Tetris article at Wikipedia)