If you’ve never played classic NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) Tetris before, you’ll never know the true joy of finally getting that long-awaited i-piece to land yourself a Tetris after a drought of nothing but s-pieces. For the Tetris players out there, you know exactly what I mean. If you’ve never played Tetris before, I would highly recommend it. Not only is it a very addictive game, but its simplicity is what makes it brilliant. Who knew that dropping pieces of various shapes on top of each other to make them fit perfectly could be so much fun? In fact, the game has become so popular, that the Portland Retro Gaming Expo holds an annual Classic Tetris World Championship (CTWC) every October. Players come from every corner of the world and compete to win the pride that comes with becoming a Tetris world champion. The CTWC aims to bring back a love of classic Tetris into the 21st century, and it attracts more and more players every year. Before we dive in, here’s a little crash course on the history of the game:
Tetris was first designed and created in June of 1984 by Alexey Pajitnov, who at that time, was a software engineer working for the Soviet Academy of Sciences in Moscow. The name “Tetris” came from the combination of the words ‘tetromino’ and ‘tennis’, which was Pajitnov’s favorite sport. Specifically, the game consisted of organizing falling geometric pieces called tetrominoes onto a playing field with a length of 10 blocks. A tetromino is a geometric shape made up of four squares that are connected orthogonally. While a tetromino is falling, the player can move it laterally and rotate it until it touches the bottom of the field or another piece. As the game progresses, the pieces begin to fall faster, and at a certain point, you reach the “kill screen”, which is a point at which it’s almost impossible to control the pieces due to the speed at which they are falling. This usually occurs at level 29 in classic Tetris. That is, until the current world champion, teenage Tetris prodigy Joseph Saelee surpassed the supposed “kill screen” and reached level 33, which is honestly quite an achievement. If that isn’t enough, he beat the 7-time world champion Jonas Neubauer (who had only been defeated once before that) when he was just 16! A lot of this has to do with his playing style, which is increasingly growing in popularity among players.
When it comes to playing NES Tetris, players will adopt one of two styles of playing. Delayed Auto Shift (DAS), or hyper tapping. DAS players rely on pressing and holding down a key to move a piece, which keeps moving in the specified direction with short delays between movements. Hyper tapping, on the other hand, allows for the faster movement of pieces by not relying on the DAS technique and the slow auto-repeat rate. Hyper tappers achieve this by holding the controller differently and repeatedly pressing the keys at an extremely fast rate, sometimes as quick as more than 10-taps per second. This means that players that hyper tap can stack higher and take more risks since they can move their pieces over more quickly.
In the end, Tetris has become a worldwide phenomenon and has become a best-selling video game with 150 million copies sold since its first release in 1989 to the Gameboy console. Even with that, its rise in popularity doesn’t seem to be slowing down, as more and more young people like Joseph Saelee are taking up the game and are making history. BOOM TETRIS FOR THE WORLD!