Everyone, at one point in there life, played Tetris. I don't mean they played it once and forgot about it. I mean they played Tetris. A lot. Now, on the 30th anniversary of the world's most ubiquitous video game, we asked everyone in our office to share their thoughts on the game.
Editor, Kotaku Australia The power of Tetris became evident to me not when I played it for the first time, or the hundredth time. It was in 1998, roughly seven years after I got my Game Boy as a googly-eyed 10 year old, when I packed my crumbly old Game Boy en route to my first holiday by myself, with friends.
Tetris had no goddamn right to be involved in that holiday. It was to be a boozy affair, filled with nights spent getting drunk trying to pick up girls before vomiting on some unfortunate side street. Yep, it was one of those holidays. I was 17 years old.
But I still packed my Game Boy. I still packed Tetris, without really knowing why. It was just a reflex really. It belonged in my suitcase like a pair of wizened underpants. And then, hungover, surrounded by empty bottles I proceeded to get what remains to this day my highest Tetris score ever.
It was easily the most memorable part of that holiday.
Editor at Lifehacker Australia I'm a confirmed retro gaming tragic, and here's yet more proof: there's a Tetris digital clock on the desk in my office. I find it soothing to watch the numbers form as the tetronimoes fall.
Tetris effectively represents that early era of games. It's a simple mechanic that provides endless entertainment (no DLC needed or wanted here). It doesn't rely on fancy graphics for its impact. It can work in any form factor, from a monochrome handheld to a high-powered console. It was endlessly and shamelessly cloned. And after you play for long enough, you dream Tetris patterns. (This can be very jarring if the dream is also erotic.)
Random fact to finish: back in the original Gameboy era, Dannii Minogue was a Tetris addict who would spend hours on flights trying to beat her high score. I exist to know these things.
Gizmodo Australia My first time playing Tetris was on a friend's Game Boy in primary school, in about 1994 or so. The game wasn't even remotely new at that point, but it was new to me and I loved it. I wasn't particularly good at it though, and never got great — I didn't have any kind of strategy to playing so I was always struggling to react to whatever block appeared at the top of the screen.
Part of my initial problem with the game was that my six- or seven-year-old brain thought only clearing lines as a proper Tetris — four lines at once, using the straight I tetromino — was the correct way to play. Any seasoned player knows how bad an idea this is; especially since I was already struggling, I'd somehow get to three potential lines then stuff up the fourth with the wrong shape or bad controlling, then quickly fill the screen with a half-finished mess of blocks. I never lasted too long.
Allure Media Tech Bro My dad had been in Singapore for what felt like forever. I remember waiting outside customs with my mum and sister. I couldn't wait to see dad, but whenever he was gone for longer than a week, he would always bring back a rad present - so my excitement levels were over 9000.
He barely made it out of the aisle before producing a small black box. It took a few seconds to register — neon robot hands, holding some kind of...
"Wait, is that...? A GAME BOOOOYYYYY!!!!? Nooo waaaaay!!"
It was bundled with a single game — Tetris. Unfortunately, I wasn't very good at it, but for a long time it was the only game I had, so I played it anyway. Sixteen hour car trips were nothing with my stable table and magnifying glass/light attachment.
Sadly, my time with Tetris was ended by a charge pack that would no longer hold charge. I haven't played any of the hundreds of iterations or ports since. But even today, whenever I pack a car for a long trip, this certain tune slowly fades in...
Lifehacker Australia Like most non-Russian gamers, my first experience with Tetris came via an unlicensed port. In my case it was 'Super Twintris' on the Commodore Amiga; a PD game that pitched two players against each other on a split screen. To this day, I maintain it's the best version of Tetris ever; mainly because the blocks made a cool 'chink' noise when they slotted into place. Plus, it was the first game I could consistently beat my dad at after years of being mercilessly trounced — it was like Zeus overthrowing Cronos. In block form.
Tetris also taught me that video games aren't just for boys (bear in mind, this was back in the early '90s). One of the 'it' girls in my class was a fetching brunette called Jessica. One day she approached me after class — I was a known gamer — and confessed that she was worried about what Tetris was doing to her brain. She was addicted to one of those portable Tetris clones and was starting to see the shapes at night while trying to go to sleep. I told her not to worry about it.
Editor, Gizmodo Australia Tetris was an interesting game for me. It was the first game I ever played on a hand-held platform, and the first time I had ever experienced a puzzle game. I went hands-on with Tetris when I was around 12-years old, and didn’t put it down for weeks. Even when the front glass fell off my original Game Boy, I was still hooked on making lines disappear.
Interestingly, Tetris also led me to my first experience with the piano. My sister used to play, so we had a small pianola in our house that I’d look at with awe. I had zero musical talent and tiny hands: music was never in my future. Despite a breathtaking lack of talent, Tetris inspired me to sit down at that pianola and hit keys until I heard the first note of the block game’s iconic theme. From there, I’d sound out the next note and the next one. Eventually, I had almost one bar of the Tetris theme which I retained and played whenever I walked by the unattended keys. While I can’t remember how to play the theme now, 16 years on, for the life of me, I still remember how to play Tetris. Mostly because the game cartridge and my old GameBoy Color are still in my bottom drawer, along with Pokemon Blue and the Pokemon Trading Card Game.
We've all played Tetris. We've all got a Tetris story — feel free to share yours in the comments below!