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Videogame / Tetris

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I am the man who arranges the blocks that descend upon me from up above
They come down and I spin them around, 'til they fit in the ground like hand in glove
Sometimes it seems that to move blocks is fine, and the lines will be formed as they fall
Then I see that I have misjudged it! I should not have nudged it after all
Can I have a long one, please?
Why must these infernal blocks tease?

Contrary to popular belief, the Russians did invade during the Cold War — it just went unnoticed, because they were crafty about it. Their invasion was called Tetris (Russian: "Тетрис").

The concept is exceedingly simple. Tetriminoes note  (puzzle pieces made from four square blocks) are falling down the screen, and you must arrange them into lines by moving them around your workspace and rotating them. Once you form a line, all blocks in that line vanish, and everything above them falls down one level. You gain more points for making multiple lines at once — in the standard rules, the maximum number of lines that you can make at once is four, a "Tetris".

As you continue to play, the blocks fall faster and faster. If they reach the top of the play area, the game is over.

According to legend, the game's creator, Alexey Pajitnov, nearly didn't complete the game; he was too addicted to playing the prototype. More on the game's long, weird, complicated history can be found on the Analysis page.

First released in 1985, Tetris products or other programs implementing the same game rules have appeared on nearly every video game console, computer operating system, graphing calculator, mobile phone, and PDA ever released, as well as the lighting systems for a couple of buildings (its simplicity makes porting it very easy). By far, however, the most famous and popular version was released on the Nintendo Game Boy in 1989, bundled with the system upon its release (and becoming its Killer App at the same time, long before Pokémon was created). The first of that version's three musical options, a Russian folk song called "Korobeiniki" (although the game just referred to it as "Music A"), has become an iconic (and catchy) piece of video game music.

Tetris may well be one of the most beloved video games in the history of the craft, enjoyed by everyone alike. There are few gamers who haven't stared at a screen and muttered, "All I need is one straight line... just one..."

Arika's arcade version of Tetris, called Tetris: The Grand Master, features a few deceptively simple changes that transform Tetris from a classic action puzzle game into nothing less than the most cognitively strenuous high-speed twitch game ever devisednote . But, due to the creator's frustration with clones of that game, its future is bleak.

As you've probably noticed, The Advertisement Server tends to promote a website called Tetris Friends Online Games. No, this is not one of those cheap cash-in websites it generally displays (what's with Yoda wearing makeup, by the way?), it's an actual official Web-based Tetris game site. No fooling!

See also: Tetris Wiki, The Tetris Effect.

Tetris and its derivatives can contain examples of:

  • Allegedly Free Game: Along with Bribing Your Way to Victory, has become a staple of official Tetris games since around 2007 or so. Tetris Online Japan, Tetris Friends, and Tetris Battle are all "free" but hide piece previews (except for Tetris Friends) and cripple your controls (in all three games) to slow you down; to remove these handicaps require either paying real money or several hundred hours of Forced Level-Grinding.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Over time, various features have been added to the tried-and-true formula to streamline the block-stacking experience:
    • In the original Tetris as well as most early Tetris games by Nintendo, pieces immediately lock once they land on another piece or the floor. The 1988 Sega version of Tetris introduces what is known as "lock delay"—once a piece lands on something, it has a brief period of time during which it can move around until it finally locks into place. This makes Sega Tetris playable even at its maximum speed, much less TGM at instant-drop speed; contrast with NES Tetris where the game meets its effective end at Level 29 due to blocks being unable to reach the extreme left or right sides before hitting the floor and locking into place immediately.
    • In later games, the "ghost piece" feature (or Temporary Landing System as TGM calls it) was added, showing a "ghost" of the current piece to indicate how the piece will land if it is dropped as is, helping prevent dropping pieces in the wrong column by accident.
    • Early games use a very basic random number generator for generating pieces, but even then droughts of a particular piece or two can and will occur. TGM tweaks the randomizer to bias against dealing out repeats of recent pieces, while modern Tetris games use randomized permutations of all seven tetrominoes. At worst, you'll go only 13 pieces without an I-piece.
    • The current Guideline-compliant Tetris games have a fall delay, a few frames where you can move a piece around before it falls. This was present in the Tengen and SNES Elorg versions as well, while the NES Elorg version lacked this feature...making it very difficult to get pieces over to the edges at high levels.
  • Arc Number: Along with Bilingual Bonus: The name comes from the Greek word "tetra," meaning "four." All tetriminos are made of four blocks, and the line-clearing combo cap is four.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • T-Spin Triples are impressive to pull off, and in games that recognize them will award more points and send more lines of garbage to your opponent than even a Tetris. However, setting up a T-Spin Triple requires a very precise and difficult setup compared to a Tetris, and can easily leave you with a mess that is costly to fix. Some games, in an effort to Nerf T-Spin Triples due to higher-skill players being able to pull them off with regularity, will only net the same award for a T-Spin Double if you do a TST, making it outright Cool, But Inefficient.
    • In versions of Marathon mode that use a "Goal" system (as opposed to the more traditional "clear x lines to beat the game"), Tetrises become these. Because they progress you to the goal much faster than other, lesser types of line clears, they can actually deprive you of scoring opportunities.
  • The Backwards Я: Both Atari arcade and Tengen's NES version spell the title as TETЯIS.
    • The Atari version goes even further by substituting Я for the regular R in-game, for example, showing "GAME OVEЯ" when you lose.
  • Bilingual Bonus: With Arc Number: The name comes from the Greek word "tetra," meaning "four." All tetriminos are made of four blocks, and the line-clearing combo cap is four.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Has become a staple of official Tetris games since around 2007 or so. Tetris Online Japan, Tetris Friends, and Tetris Battle are all "free" but hide piece previews (except for Tetris Friends) and cripple your controls (in all three games) to slow you down; to remove these handicaps require either paying real money or several hundred hours of Forced Level-Grinding.
  • The Cameo:
    • Characters from Bomberman make an appearance in Axis' Compter Battle mode.
    • Nintendo characters (specifically Mario, Luigi, Peach, Bowser, Donkey Kong, Link, Samus, and Pit) appear on the success screen of the NES version's Type-B if cleared on Level 9 or 19. The starting height determines how many appear.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer: The Tengen NES version of Tetris, Tetris Party, and Tetris: The Absolute - The Grand Master 2 PLUS both have co-op modes where both players place pieces in a shared extra-wide well. Tetris Kiwamemichi notably has a similar mode that allows up to four players to play together.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Most games give each piece its own color; these were standardized across games in the 2000s. See Rainbow Motif below.
  • Comeback Mechanic:
    • One item in Tetris Axis switches your playing field with that of the opponent. This is most often used to transfer what should be an inevitable loss to your opponent.
    • In the versus mode of many games, if you receive multiple lines of garbage at once, the garbage's holes will often line up laterally, allowing you to easily counterattack by clearing it out, likely for a Tetris, if you manage to dig down to it.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Averted. Early players complained that the computer was cheating and refusing to drop the one piece they needed. Pajitnov added the "Statistics" bars at the side of the screen to prove that the game was fair over the long term. In more recent versions, the Random Generator deals all pieces seven at a time and is guaranteed to generate an equal number of each piece.
    • On the other hand, there's Bastet, a "Bastard Tetris" that does specifically deny you the pieces you want.
    • Up to Eleven: Wesleyan Tetris will give you an absurdly shaped piece, then shuffle the landscape while you're trying to place it. It will lie about the next piece just seldom enough that you can't afford to ignore it. It will place an Invisible Block right where you were about to clear a line, and greet your failure with a Rimshot. Welcome to Tetris Platform Hell.
  • Couch Gag: Puyo Puyo Tetris has a random character perform the SEGA Choir, as well as saying "Tetris", every time the game is started up.
  • Crossover: With Puyo Puyo for Puyo Puyo Tetris.
    • There's also Magical Tetris Challenge, which stars Mickey Mouse and friends, as well as Tetris With Cardcaptor Sakura: Eternal Heart, both of which are Licensed games based on the Tetris brand.
  • Difficulty by Acceleration
  • Disney Owns This Trope: The Tetris Company claims trademark on tetrominos themselves (the shapes made with 4 square blocks) when applied to games.
    • While the Korobeiniki song is public domain, the Tetris Company's specific arrangement of the song for the games is trademarked.
  • Dummied Out: The NES version has an unfinished co-op mode.
  • Endless Game: Many Tetris ports come with several modes, one of which (usually "Type A") is this (the others are aversions requiring you to clear a specific number of lines).
  • Fake Difficulty: If you're migrating from a newer version to an older version, the latter becomes a retroactive example. Usually, you have no lock delay, let alone infinite spin, and stiffer controls. See also the aforementioned Bastet.
    • Also, the video iPod version has notoriously touchy controls. The slightest movement as the piece is about to drop will move it out of place (or rotate it, depending on your game settings).
    • Original version was optimized for the Elektronika60 mini, but these were big and expensive, so mostly it was run on smaller and cheaper DVK PCs. These were quite a bit slower, though, and with unpatched E60 binaries the controls were notoriously unresponsive.
  • Fan Remake: Numerous ports of Tetris have been made over the years, including a handful of fan-made ones.
  • Filk Song: Brentalfloss' Tetris with lyrics! and Tetris Suicide.
  • Intermission:
    • The Atari arcade game featured a dancer after clearing every third round. Push the rotation button to give him the hook.
    • In Tengen's version, several dancers can appear based on the number of Triples and Tetrises cleared during a level. They take a bow either after completing the act or if you wish not to see it.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: The T block. Because it has the most sides out of all the other pieces, and it's the only one able to T-Spin, you can practically put it anywhere on the board, granted there's an open space. However, horizontal Z/S and vertical J/L pieces can more fully fill spaces it cannot, making them more specialized to close gaps.
  • Kill Screen: Nintendo's NES version becomes virtually impossible to continue starting at Level 29, due to pieces falling so fast that they can't move to the left or right edges of the playfield anymore. Versions based on SEGA's 1989 Tetris game, as well as current Tetris games with endless modes, largely avert this due to allowing pieces to be moved for a brief period after landing on something.
  • Konami Code: In Tengen's NES version, inputting the code while the game is paused replaces your current piece with a straight piece as seen in this video. It only works once per 30-line section.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The Minos in Tetris Worlds.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • The NES version of Tetris had rocket launches if you got at least 100,000 points. The third level is the Buran space shuttle. If you get it high enough, they put a UFO on the launch pad, but the nearby Kremlin launches instead.
    • The Gameboy version launches a Soyuz rocket if you beat Type A, and the Buran space shuttle if you beat Type B.
    • Tetris DX's endings feature attempts at launching something into space. If you play well enough a rocket is launched successfully.
  • Near Victory Fanfare: Tetris DS has its Push Mode based on Donkey Kong. As you come closer to victory, the 25m music gains an upbeat drum beat, adds a melody, and then becomes the hammer theme from the same game. The reverse also occurs if you're on the losing side.
  • Nerf:
    • Tetris DS awards a large number of points or sends a whopping seven lines of garbage to the opponent for a T-Spin Triple. Many subsequent games simply don't recognize T-Spin Triples.
    • In official games with a variable-goal Marathon mode (where stronger types of line clears award faster progress to the end of the game), Tetrises got a severe nerf. Because they award eight goal units (as opposed to the 4 goal units from making four single-line clears), making a lot of Tetrises ends the game much faster, thus resulting in a low-score run.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The "Random Generator" used to deal out pieces in later iterations is, in fact, very restrictive and predictable.
  • No Plot? No Problem!: Most iterations of the game.
    • Excuse Plot: Tetris Worlds.
      • Tetris Plus involved trying to clear the floor so that a gem-hunting archeologist could get to the exit and treasures at the bottom before the slowly descending spikes reached his head. That's it.
    • Puyo Puyo Tetris averts this trope, featuring a story mode that not only includes Puyo Puyo characters, but also new characters that represent Tetris.
  • Nostalgia Filter + Complaining about People Not Liking the Show: Some people will look at you funny if you don't think the NES and Game Boy versions are the best Tetris games of all time.
  • Obvious Beta: Ubisoft's version of Tetris Ultimate on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One is notious for having lag issues, as well as crashing entirely.
  • One-Word Title: A Bilingual Bonus: The name comes from the Greek word "tetra," meaning "four." All tetriminos are made of four blocks, and the line-clearing combo cap is four.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: The NES version used Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy", while the Game Boy and most later versions are known for the Russian folk song "Korobeiniki".
  • Rainbow Motif:
    • The current color setup for the Tetriminoes follows this, except with violet replaced with cyan. For the curious, these are red for Z, orange for L, yellow for O, green for S, cyan for I, blue for J, and purple for T.
    • SEGA's, Jaleco's, and Arika's Tetris games instead use red for I, cyan for T, and purple for Z.
  • Rank Inflation: Present in Super Tetris 3, Tetris Worlds, and possibly others.
  • Sampling: The New Tetris for the Nintendo 64 has an impressive amount of this for a cart-based game. The soundtrack samples everything from vocals, to drum breaks, to chords, and even to melodies.
  • Songs in the Key of Panic:
    • In most games, the music speeds up if the stack gets too close to the top of the screen.
    • The 1988 Sega Tetris game has one track that plays throughout the game, and speeds up at certain level-ups, as well as a different theme for when your stack has gotten too high.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": What mathematicians spell "tetromino" the Tetris Guideline spells "tetrimino".
  • Stalked by the Bell: Fail to complete an objective in Tetris DS's "Mission" mode, and your playfield gets bumped up by four lines of blocks before your next objective is given.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The spinoff BomBliss.
  • The Tetris Effect: The Trope Namer.
  • Updated Re Release: "Tetris & Dr. Mario" for SNES, both of which are based on the NES versions of their respective games, which featured remixed graphics and sound, plus an exclusive "Mixed Match" mode.
  • Up to Eleven: One of the numerous spinoff games out there is called "Not Tetris", which ramps things up by adding a Physics Engine into the game. Even if you do manage to properly align a Tetrimino, it'll bounce around before it settles.
    • I present to you Hell, which was inspired by the xkcd comic of the same name, and which features a "U" shaped bottom. It is genuinely playable, but enjoy your hell.
      • There's also Ntris, which is a tetris game that can make pieces with any number of squares. It does not seem to be ridiculous until you are faced with six and seven square pieces that just do not quite fit.
    • First-Person Tetris. If you're prone to motion sickness, beware.
    • Full HD Tetris. This is actually the second of three versions of Full HD Tetris made by this person and is by far the most insane - the playfield is so large that even committing suicide takes ages.
  • Video Game 3D Leap:
    • Welltris, also created by Alexey Pajitnov. Notable that it did it without Polygonal Graphics.
    • The slightly obscure Tetrisphere also was this, and is a surprisingly good game, though gameplay admittedly matches up little with conventional Tetris. It's about quickly matching same-shaped pieces to form chains, and some of those pieces are made with three blocks instead of four.
    • The even more obscure Virtual Boy game 3D Tetris, which was also a surprisingly good game. Featured genuinely challenging puzzle modes along with the "normal" play.
    • Another game similar to Welltris and also released in 1989 was Blockout by California Dreams. An open-source version for modern systems is still actively maintained.
    • Sega Tetris (the 1999 game, not the 1988 one) goes the presentation route, having polygons for the scenery, the playfield, and the blocks, but beyond that it's much of the usual SEGA Tetris fare.
    • 2003's Tetris Worlds (released on the Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox) is this in its entirety.
  • Violation of Common Sense: Many modern games actually reward more points for comboing single line clears than making Tetrises. Long story short, if you make a lot of Tetrises in these kinds of games, the game will end too fast for you to get a lot of good scoring opportunities.