kottke.org posts about Tetris

Ecstasy of OrderAug 02 2013

Ecstasy of Order is a documentary about Tetris and the quest to find the game's grandmasters.

Tetris. We've all played it, rotating the pieces ("tetrominoes") and dropping them in the perfect place, or despairing as we discover a piece won't fit. You may have even joked about "mastering" the game during a stint of unemployment, or as a child, before you could afford any other Game Boy cartridges. But what about the people who've truly mastered Tetris? Where are the Kasparovs and Fischers, the great champions who've dedicated their minds to solving its deepest puzzles?

One man made it his mission to find them. In an effort to legitimize Tetris as a pro sport, Tetris super-fan Robin Mihara summoned the greatest Tetris players from around the country to compete in Los Angeles at the 2010 Classic Tetris World Championship. Among them are the only players known to have reached the unthinkable perfect 'max-out' score on classic Nintendo Tetris: Jonas Neubauer and Harry Hong. Add in the top players for most lines, Ben Mullen and Jesse Kelkar, as well as newcomer Dana Wilcox and modern-day Tetris Grandmaster Alex Kerr, and a storm of Tetris greatness is brewing.

The film is also on Hulu (US-only) if you don't mind commercials.

Tetris: winning an unwinnable gameFeb 08 2013

Chris Higgins travels to the Tetris World Championship and profiles a couple of the game's top competitors. The issue at heart is: how do approach playing and mastering a game that you can't actually win?

When Steil achieved his current high score of 889,131 points (and 222 lines) in October of 2012, it felt like a loss. Despite being Steil's best game to date, it represented a failure to reach the perfection of a max out. When he posted the score on Facebook for his Tetris friends to see, he wrote, "Another new high score, but what a choke job at 222 [lines]. Each new high score is a minor success as well as a monumental failure."

This attitude pervades competitive Tetris, and it highlights the perverse aspect that the best game is still a loss. Faced with this harsh reality, NES Tetris players have devised ways to compete (the Championship), milestones to achieve (max outs and high numbers of lines per game), and ways to measure performance (max outs achieved starting at higher levels are more difficult due to the game's speed). Fundamentally, however, players compete against themselves and lose every time.

Here's what getting a max score on Tetris looks like:

(via @VintageZen66)

OSU Marching Band tribute to classic video gamesOct 07 2012

The halftime show of the OSU vs Nebraska football game featured the OSU Marching Band's tribute to classic video games. This is a 9 minute video, and I surprised myself by watching the whole thing. Tetris at 1:25 is fantastic, and the running horse at 6:00 EXTRA fantastic.

(via @wilw)

More than you could possibly want to know about TetrisJun 13 2012

After reading Noah Davis' piece in The Verge about Tetris, Aaron Cohen collected a bunch of other long articles about Tetris.

Also worth watching is this hour-long BBC documentary on Tetris.

Alexey Pazhitnov, a computer programmer from Moscow, created Tetris in 1985 but as the Soviet Union was Communist and all, the state owned the game and any rights to it. Who procured the rights from whom on the other side of the Iron Curtain became the basis of legal wranglings and lawsuits; the Atari/Nintendo battle over Tetris wasn't settled until 1993.

And there's always the kottke.org tag for Tetris.

World's best Tetris playerMay 26 2011

You think you're good at Tetris? Think again. Hell, you think you're good at anything? Think again, again! Tetris grandmaster Jin8 shows you how it's done:

It starts getting insane around the 3:00 mark and then, at 5 minutes in, all the blocks turn invisible and he keeps right on going! It's like he's playing blindfold speed chess on the hood of a stock car!! I mean, !!!!!

Tetris Tetris everywhereJun 01 2010

A selection of photos of objects that look like Tetris pieces.

Tetris Everywhere

(via flickr blog)

First person TetrisJan 15 2010

Completely trippy version of Tetris where pushing the rotate button ROTATES THE WHOLE WORLD. (thx, ryan)

Tuper Tario TrosDec 30 2009

Super Mario Bros + Tetris = Tuper Tario Tros. (via waxy)

The Game Boy is 20Apr 27 2009

The Game Boy just turned 20; here are six reasons why it was so successful. Surprisingly, the list is not:

1. Tetris
2. Tetris
3. Tetris
4. Tetris
5. Tetris
6. Tetris

Tetris didn't start with the Game Boy, of course (Pajitnov created it for the PC in 1985), but the Game Boy made it mainstream. Ultimately, Tetris proved so popular that it quickly drove sales of Nintendo's handheld console into the millions. Tetris's grown-up gameplay also attracted adults to Nintendo's new platform, expanding Game Boy's potential audience beyond the usual adolescent NES set.

Somewhere, I still have an original Game Boy with a Tetris cart wedged into it.

Game (almost) NeverendingMar 25 2009

Even after two weeks of letting Tetris HD play by itself, the screen is only about 2/3rds full. It's a fun image to see but the browser chrome is perhaps just as interesting...the Google search for "fuck fuck fuck" and a tab containing the Wikipedia page for "Anal sex" for example. (thx, my main man dj jacob)

Tetris HDMar 10 2009

Who knew that radically expanding the size of the game board in Tetris makes the game almost completely unplayable, unless the object is to die in the least amount of time possible. Reports, which I have sadly corroborated with my own play, say that it take 15 minutes to complete one line. OCD, anyone? (via waxy)

A history of matching tile games (likeNov 16 2007

A history of matching tile games (like Tetris, Dr. Mario, Bejeweled). Don't miss the family tree of matching tile games about a fourth of the way down the page (larger version here). I'm no matching tile game scholar, but where the hell is Snood?

Update: Aha, it's because Snood is a rip-off of Puzzle Bobble. (thx, greg & kevin)

Statetris: "Instead of positioning the typical TetrisSep 17 2007

Statetris: "Instead of positioning the typical Tetris blocks, you position states/countries at their proper location." There are versions for the US, Africa, Europe, the UK, and more.

Andrew of Songs To Wear Pants ToApr 26 2007

Andrew of Songs To Wear Pants To makes songs from suggestions you send him. You can even commission a song from him for a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary. Recent tracks include a Tetris rap and a song written for a guy who likes a girl but doesn't know how to express it (she's got "beautiful light blue eyes, long brown hair, and great athletic body" which Andrew translates as "I don't even care about her personality" in the song).

A group of people who are interestedMar 12 2007

A group of people who are interested in preserving video games as culturally and historically important artifacts has chosen their list of the top 10 most important video games of all time: Spacewar!, Star Raiders, Zork, Tetris, SimCity, Super Mario Bros. 3, Civilization I/II, Doom, Warcraft series and Sensible World of Soccer. Sensible World of Soccer?

A review of Nicholas Negroponte's influential BeingJan 31 2007

A review of Nicholas Negroponte's influential Being Digital, 12 years after its publication. "Page 204: Today a game like Tetris is fully understandable too quickly. All that changes is the speed. We are likely to see members of a Tetris generation who are much better at packing a station wagon, but not much more." He wrong about Tetris *and* the future availability of station wagons. (via matt)

The story of TetrisOct 25 2006

The following is a great 2004 BBC documentary about Tetris, the man who created it, and the lengths that several companies went to in order to procure the rights to distribute it. Tetris - From Russia With Love:

Alexey Pazhitnov, a computer programmer from Moscow, created Tetris in 1985 but as the Soviet Union was Communist and all, the state owned the game and any rights to it. Who procured the rights from whom on the other side of the Iron Curtain became the basis of legal wranglings and lawsuits; the Atari/Nintendo battle over Tetris wasn't settled until 1993. There's an abbreviated version of the story, but the documentary is a lot more fun. A rare copy of the Tengen version of Tetris, which was pulled from the shelves due to legal troubles, is available on eBay for around $50.

Ultimate screenshot collection of Tetris for theFeb 27 2006

Ultimate screenshot collection of Tetris for the Nintendo DS. Metroid + Tetris??!! Awesome.

Very high on the list of thingsJan 18 2006

Very high on the list of things that don't need to be advertised is Tetris. Chances are you remember this Tetris commercial from the 80s anyway. "Use your thumbs, use your eyes, find yourself Tetrisized!"

GameSpot has an ongoing series of articlesDec 07 2005

GameSpot has an ongoing series of articles about the greatest video games of all time. Lode Runner, Tetris, Quake, Oregon Trail, Defender, and Metroid all make the list.

Tidying upNov 02 2005

Today was a maintenance day around kottke.org. Some long-overdue backups, upgrading the OS and some applications, cleaning up the desktop, getting rid of some unneeded files on the web server, trimming my newsreader subscriptions, going through my spam, the kind of stuff that gets put off because it just doesn't sound that fun and you can get by without doing it over the short term. I really don't mind it so much...there's a certain satisfaction you get in completing such tasks. The crossing off of todo items from a list, bringing structure to a messy situation, tidying up.

A friend of mine (who I can't link to because he got cross with me the last time I did) has a theory that most modern sports are about tidying up. Put the ball in the goal, all the balls in the pockets, clear the tennis court of any balls, etc.:

Explaining to [an acquaintance] why I like watching snooker on tv so much (she doesn't: it's slow and boring), I realised that snooker is rarely tense, and it's not enjoyable to watch at all: it's extremely satisfying, relaxing almost. Snooker is a game where you have to make a big mess at the beginning with the break, and then you're never going to get them all neat like that again, so it becomes a process of cleaning the balls away into the pockets very very carefully. First you put away the red, then the black, then the red, and, oh, I did that one wrong, so now I have to do the pink, and the red again...

Lots of video games are like that as well. Pac-Man, Katamari Damacy, Dig Dug, Quake, Space Invaders. Chores too, of course. Two chores I find extremely satisfying are bagging groceries and (especially) mowing the lawn. Getting all those different types of products -- with their various shapes, sizes, weights, levels of fragility, temperatures -- quickly into the least possible number of bags...quite pleasurable. Reminds me a little of Tetris. And mowing the lawn...making all the grass the same height, surrounding the remaining uncut lawn with concentric rectangles of freshly mowed grass. Despite the gigantic blisters I got on both my thumbs last time I cut the grass, I finished with a euphoric giddyness (perhaps akin to a runner's high) that was simultaneously calming.

Long hours playing Tetris prepares man for constructing brick walkwayJul 19 2005

Long hours playing Tetris prepares man for constructing brick walkway.

Play one-dimensional TetrisApr 06 2005

Play one-dimensional Tetris. Literally seconds of fun!

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