One of the all-time classic video games, invented in the mid 1980s.

In its original form, you rotate tetrominoes (groups of 4 connected squares) as they fall into a 10-unit-wide bin; these stick in place as soon as they try to move down but are blocked by another piece, and the next tetromino appears at the top of the screen.

When you complete a row of 10 squares across the screen without any holes, those 10 squares flash and disappear, and the blocks above them drop down a row. If this leaves hanging bits, they remain hanging. If two or more blocks are completed at the same time, they both drop out, and you get a score bonus for doing so. If four rows drop at the same time, which can only be done by standing the long, straight piece on end, this is called a Tetris. The general strategy is to try to avoid covering holes, since this makes the rows containing those holes impossible to drop until the row(s) covering the holes are dropped, although an important strategy is to recognize when you can drop an upper row with a move that seems to cover a hole but doesn't actually because the covering square(s) are immediately dropped.

There are two main variations: Marathon mode, where you just keep playing until you can't fit any more pieces into the bin (or, specifically, until the next piece doesn't fit on the screen without overlapping some other piece), and Goal mode, where you have a set goal, usually a certain number of lines to drop, and after reaching it, the board resets to some initial configuration (often not empty) and you get a new goal. Generally, the Goal mode is used in arcade games where the marathon mode is too short of a game, but both modes are used in computer game versions.

Tetris spawned dozens of imitators and variations. There were games with bigger, smaller, and disconnected pieces, different goals, differently-sized bins, and pieces with various sorts of special effects when they landed; games where two people played against each other, and each line dropped by one player caused some bad effect for the other player (an idea revived by Super Puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo); games where two players played cooperatively in a single, large grid; games based on hexagonal grids and in 3D, etc.

Due to Soviet political structure at the time, the inventor, Alexey Pajitnov, was not able to patent his game. This gave rise to many sundry Tetris clones for all manner of machines.

Among my favourites are Hextris for X and the much-maligned Microsoft version for Windows.

A good strategy, at least in the latter, is to try and rid yourself of several rows at once. The more rows that are simultaneously disposed of, the more points you get. As a level 1 example, removing 1 row will only net 121 points, while removing 4 rows at once will garner a score of 821 (or 205.25 points per row). As levels get higher (and the blocks drop faster) the score per row increases, as does the "bonus" for removing more than one row at a time. A useful course of action,. therefore, is to leave one column free, on either side of the pit, just building up the rest. Then any red bricks (4x1) can be dropped in to give large boosts in score.

Other good strategies include making sure that you always have at least two contiguous columns that are the same height (ie: the surface is unbroken). This way, if one of the annoying light blue (2x2) square pieces appears, it is easy to place without enclosing a "hole" (which can be difficult to remove later).

In that spirit, try to distribute blocks evenly across the width of the pit. Towers create several problems. 1) they have a tendency to be bult up and reach the top of the pit (game over). 2) If a brick is on one side and needed on the other, you can't move it across. 3) The canyons between the towers can be hard to fill. Also, keeping an even distribution makes it more likely that the surface will be flat (see earlier paragraph). Keep in mind that some small variation is good, so as to accomodate S-shaped blocks (green and dark blue).

Following these strategies should result in good tetris scores.
Tetris metanode-like substance. (O is for nOdeshell, /msg btc with additions)

Games
Tetris
The Next Tetris (psx)
Tetris Attack
Tetrinet (see also: Everything Tetrinet University)
The New Tetris
M-x tetris
Tetrimania
Hextris
Bricklayer
Quadra

Playing
four-column Tetris strategy
Tetris rules
tetrad
Tetramino
tetricide

Programming
Tetris pseudocode

Origins
The Tetris Company
Alexey Pajitnov

Etc.
Tetris bigots
The Tetris Challenge from Hell
Cult of Tetris
Tetris complete
Tetris Dreams
Which Tetris block is the coolest?

And ...
Humilate the Other Player through Application of Geometry O


Oh, and btw, the classic Tetris pieces / tetrads / tetrominoes look like this:

 ___   _______   _       _   _____   _____   _____ 
|   | |_______| | |_   _| | |_   _| |  ___| |___  |
|___|           |_  | |  _|   |_|   |_|         |_|
                  |_| |_|                          

Here are a few Tetris cheats that I have found in my Tetris career:

Change any block into a stick (Tengen's Tetris for the NES): Pause the game, enter up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A (the famous Konami Code), and the currently falling piece will transform into a stick. Unpause the game, and continue play as normal. Works only once per level.

Start at a higher level (Nintendo's Tetris for the NES): Select a starting level at the level select screen. Hold down the A button and press Start. You will start the game at the level you selected, plus ten levels (selecting level 4 and using this code will start you at level 14).

Any others you can think of, write them here!
In my experience the premier version of Tetris is on the Nintendo Gameboy.

Two features stand out in particular. One, the inclusion of small animations, awarded for particularly impressive achievments (both documented in the manual, and some hidden easter egg ones as well).

And two, the inclusion of a superb Game B, which instead of building blocks and increasing the speed until the playfield filled up, you would play until 25 lines were filled. At that point a final score would be computed.

This version allowed for a level playing field for excellent two or more player challenges. On the higher (faster) levels, Game B would also offer the aforementioned animations after the 25 lines were complete.

Also of note was the fact that dropping blocks from a higher area gave you more points than letting them slowly fall to the bottom (something rare to see in most tetris clones).

One of the hidden easter eggs I have found is on Game A, after a suitably high score is achieved (from memory in the realm of > 70'000 points), an animation of a rocket blasting off is shown (not the Space Shuttle animation, that is the reward for completing Game B on Level 9, High 5).

A technique for high scores on Game B is to ensure that you complete only 24 lines, then construct a Tetris. This allows you to score points for a total of 28 lines, rather than the usual 25.


I'm told by enth that this version is descended from the 8-bit Nintendo console (the NES). The feature set is probably similar or identical.

Apart from being a fine game, Tetris is also a perfect mirror of the human condition. For a while the game is entertaining, and we seem to have mastered it and are having fun. Then, something goes wrong. A rash mistake, or an unfulfilled wish, and we're fighting to repair the damage, but we've been thrown off-balance, and the cancer is spreading. Blocks that were once orderly and harmonious are jumbled and filled with holes, and our cup is on the verge of running over. There's always a point at which we stop planning for the future, and realise that we don't have one - all we can do is cling to the present and concentrate, focus our minds on what it's like to be alive, to play the game, before it's all over. You were waiting for a four-by-one block that never came.

Eventually we stare death in the face, and death will not spare us because we would warn the others to stay away and not play the game. Sometimes we resist to the bitter end, moving blocks left and right without thought or care, just to hang on, and sometimes we accept the inevitable and pull the blocks down to us, smiling inwardly at the great joke. The rest is silence. We admire the fox as it escapes from the hounds, but when the hunt is over we turn away, and go off and drink and be merry, and somewhere else someone or something is watching us as we watch the fox. But the fox knows it is being chased.

ТЕТРИС

Hi. I'm WWWWolf. I'm not an addict, but I like the game anyway. =)

Of all versions of Tetris I have played, the Game Boy version that came with my Game Boy in ~1991 has to be the one that I have played the most. This game completely enthralled me back in the day; I had played the game before, but this new portability, dazzling graphics, and familiar Russian folk melodies made me convince that this game console was something I had to get.

And when I got my Game Boy Advance in 2001, what was the first game I played? No, I had not even bought any GBA games - I played my old GB games at first. The 3 volt electric current rushed through my new 32-bit portable game console, and it booted up first time - to play a decade-old game module that required a fraction of the processor muscle of the console it was released for. What would Marvin think of this? I don't care, I just wanted to see the circle complete.

...

But if you want my opinion of nicest Tetris version ever written, it has to be the Commodore 64 version.

I had problems finding game info for this, but it was made in 1988 (or 1987, the sources conflict here...) and released by Mirrorsoft (when I saw this first time, you know what company I thought of, but I quickly learned that they were different companies).

Why this version rules? I don't care of game mechanics this time - indeed, GB version easily beats this version gameplay-wise, due to the fact that there's just "instant drops" and blocks can be rotated in one direction only - but the aural and visual candies are exceptional and make the whole game experience entirely hypnotic.

It starts from the title screen: In this version, "TETRIS" isn't misspelled "TETЯIS" (which is incorrect in Russian anyway, the letter is pronounced "ya", nothing to do with R). The game doesn't even try to look "Russian". No sign of landmarks from Moscow. Nothing.

Instead, everything except the blocks are in grayscale. The title screen has two figures on starry background, one getting struck by some sort of force (lightning?), another with magic-sort of stuff in hands. The game screen itself has similar minimalism, with gray-scale surroundings and star background.

The game music, by Wally Beben, can be fit into a 13 kilobyte .sid file. Yet, it's approximately 30 minutes long before it loops! The music has some dark, primitive, I dare to say magical feelings - under a modernish electric guitar background. All in all, very powerful music for a very powerful and intuitive game. I can easily rank this game music among the greatest C64 sidtunes ever made. It is one of the game tunes of which a remix would be an extremely sacrilegious idea, unless done perfectly with proper instruments.

Erik Demaine, a 23-year old professor working at MIT's CSAIL in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has co-authored a paper proving the difficulty of algorithmically solving a Tetris game.

From the abstract of the paper:

We prove that in the offline version of Tetris, it is NP-complete to maximize the number of cleared rows, maximize the number of tetrises (quadruples of rows simultaneously filled and cleared), minimize the maximum height of an occupied square, or maximize the number of pieces placed before the game ends.

In other words, Tetris falls in the same class of tantalizing problems as the famous Traveling Salesman Problem or the Halting Problem. Demaine claims that it is the intellectual challenge of coming up with heuristics to crack the game that make it so addictive.

Source: "Tetris is Hard, Even to Approximate"; MIT-LCS-TR-865 Technical Report (2002)

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