People can be such blockheads sometimes.

Review Date: April 16, 2021

Release Date: November 1, 1989** (see footnote)

Platform: NES

Publisher: Tengen** (see footnote)

Anecdotes: Growing up, from ages 5 to 14, there were five people in my house. The Nintendos were mostly for us boys, but every once in a while, there would be a game that gets my parents interested. Rarely, if ever, did any single game get played by all five of us. Only one game ever had that power. That game was Tetris. We would actually have family tournaments with it. Even when some of us were doing our own thing, a good run by anyone was like someone trying for a 300 game in bowling. Anyone in the building would have to see it and that added pressure. Everyone loved Tetris and for good reason. It’s a classic.

Description: Players choose a level and background music. The music doesn’t matter, but the level does. The level controls point values and the default falling speed of the blocks. A new level is reached whenever the number of lines is ten times the level, so level 7 is reached after clearing 70 lines, level 8 after 80, etc. The game ends when a tetromino is placed after the edge of the playing area.

These are the options; the only difference between A and B is the B starts with some blocks already in the playing area.

Positives: The game can provide hours of fun with such a simple concept. What makes it even better is that there are multiple ways to play. I would say the majority play for points, and often that strategy involves leaving a column empty to set up for a Tetris. I like to play for total lines, which can be measured by which level is reached. Players can also turn off the “Next” box if they wish not to have the next piece revealed. That’s all on top of the solid gameplay. There are many strategies involved and because the pieces given are completely random, no two games ever go the same.

Negatives: If there’s one flaw in this masterpiece, it’s that Nintendo did not include a head to head feature. I wouldn’t use it much in 2021, but in 1989 and the early 90s, that would have been invaluable. That would have taken the game to the next level.

More Screenshots:

On the level select screen, holding down A while pressing start adds 10 to the level number. Players can start as high as 19.
This is how to set up for a Tetris, sort of. I needed two longs to pull it off, but never got them.
I’m still going 187 pieces into the game.
This is how to score the big points.
Blast off!

Final Opinion: Other than the missing 2 player mode, this game is almost flawless.

Grade: A

**Honestly, I am not sure either of those facts is correct. The game has a long, complicated history. The only thing that’s clear to me is that the game was created by a Russian man named Alexey Pajitnov. For those interested in the story, here are two links: Livescience.com: The Bizarre History of Tetris and History of Tetris on Tetris.com.

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