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Video Game / 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, till 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 and even won — it just went unnoticed, because they were crafty about it. Their invasion was called Tetris (Russian: "Тетрис").

The concept is exceedingly simple. Tetriminoesnote  (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 one of the most iconic pieces of video game music of all time.

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. Arika did, however, re-surface in 2019 with its Nintendo Switch title Tetris 99, an online multiplayer title which combines the game with elements of the battle royale genre.

In 2014, Sega combined Tetris with their Puyo Puyo franchise for Puyo Puyo Tetris, bringing colorful anime art style and unique characters, eight of which are brand new representing Tetris and the rest from previous Puyo Puyo games. It would later receive a sequel, Puyo Puyo Tetris 2, in late 2020.

In late 2018, Tetsuya Mizuguchi, under the Resonair label of developer, released a new Tetris game called Tetris Effect for PlayStation 4, with the unique gimmick of blending in traditional Tetris gameplay with the visual and musical styles seen in Mizuguchi's other games. It was ported to PC and then released to Epic Games Store in 2019, with an Oculus Quest version coming early the following year.

In February 2023, Nintendo would announce that the Game Boy version of Tetris would be releasing along with other Game Boy games as part of the Nintendo Switch Online program, after they had already gone through decades of legal issues with the Tetris Company surrounding rereleases of the game. The same year, a feature film regarding the game's origins was announced for release on Apple TV+ in March.

Notable games in the series include:

  • Tetris (1985), the first ever release of the game, released on the Soviet "Electronika 60" computer.
  • Tetris (Sega)note , released in 1988. This version was a smash hit in Japanese arcades and features a lot of enhancements that would not be seen in many other Tetris games until much later.
  • Tetris (Atari) by Atari, the first Western arcade release of the game. This version is focused around clearing a target number of lines to clear each stage. This version was adapted to the NES by Atari's Tengen version within the same year, eschewing the stage-based system in favor of a more conventional endless mode, and also adds a co-op mode where two players share an extra-wide well and allows the player to rotate pieces in both directions unlike the arcade original; this version infamously was the subject of a lawsuit that forced Atari to recall all remaining stock of this game.
  • Tetris (Nintendo), the Game Boy and NES versions that were developed by Nintendo and released in 1989. The versions that brought Tetris to mainstream audiences worldwide. Both games have near-identical gameplay minitiae (such as having both endless and "clear 25 lines" modes, and "sticky" piece physics), although the Game Boy version has a slightly shorter well.
  • Tetris Battle Gaiden, a Japan-Only 1993 game where you play as different characters and battle against a series of opponents to reach the end.
  • Tetris Plus, a 1996 game by Jaleco in which the player must escort a character called the Professor through the stack of blocks and to the goal at the bottom before the Descending Ceiling crushes him. However, it does have a more traditonal gameplay mode without the Professor gimmick available as well.
  • Tetris: The Grand Master, a trilogy of games developed by Arika that are designed for advanced players and only advanced players.
  • Tetris Worlds, a 2001 title featuring a story mode that must be cleared before the regular Tetris mode can be played. It has the dubious honor of making the Tetris Company begin enforcing stricter guidelines on what a game carrying the Tetris name should be like.
  • Puyo Puyo Tetris, a crossover with Sega'snote  Puyo Puyo series.
  • Tetris Effect, which features utterly breathtaking aesthetics and the Zone System: cleared lines are immediately sent to the bottom of the screen, and all lines disappear at once when either time is up or the blocks reach the top of the screen.
  • Tetris 99, a Nintendo Switch-exclusive Battle Royale Game that stacks the player against 98 others, and the last man standing wins. All lines cleared send garbage to another player's field, which must be cleared lest they eat a Game Over.

For a list of unofficial Tetris games/clones, please see the Fan Works page.

See also: Tetrisphere.

Trope Namer of The Tetris Effect. Contrast Klotski, a sliding 4×5 Block Puzzle of which the goal is getting a 2×2 block to the bottom.

Tetris and its derivatives can contain examples of:

  • Adventurer Archaeologist: The Professor and his assistant Jo, the protagonists of Tetris Plus and Tetris Plus 2, who primarily use the tetraminoes as a way to clear paths to the next level.
  • Artificial Stupidity: The Professor in Tetris Plus is, put politely, not a clever man, and will blindly climb anything in front of him, even if it leads directly into the descending spiked ceiling. The galling part is this is directly weaponized against the player in Level 4 of Atlantis, as the Professor's spawn point places him behind a ladder of blocks that will send him heading straight for said the descending spiked ceiling, requiring a hurry of a response to prevent him from making it there.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Hitting the required number of rows in the final stage of Journey Mode in Tetris Effect gets you one minute of unlimited Zone usage. It still drains just as fast, but immediately refills once empty.
  • Allegedly Free Game:
    • Along with Bribing Your Way to Victory, this was a common trope for official games developed by Tetris Online Inc. 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.
    • Played with for Tetris 99 on the Nintendo Switch. You can download the game and play its main modesnote  for free so long as you have a subscription to the console's online system. However, if you want to access to the remaining modes (including classic Tetris and a few local/offline multiplayer modes), you'll have to cough up some extra funds for the "Big Block DLC" pack.
  • Anti-Frustration Features: Over time, various features have been added to the tried-and-true formula to streamline the block-stacking experience, eventually culminating into the current Tetris Guideline for modern games:
    • 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 for most players 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 (after 7 pieces, all 7 tetromino types will each have been dealt once, after 14 pieces they've each been dealt twice, and so on). At worst, you'll go only 13 pieces without an I-piece, and should that happen you're guaranteed to get another I within the next 8 pieces.
    • The New Tetris introduced a "hold piece" mechanic, where a piece can be stored away for future use. This isn't only useful to save I-pieces for later, but also great for replacing an undesirable piece with another one; although you can only swap once per singular tetrimino.
  • 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.
    • Tetris 99 focuses on numbers consisting only of the digit 9. There are up to 99 players in a match, Nintendo eShop Points prizes are given out as 999 points with 99 winners at a time, there is a mode where the goal is to clear 999 lines, and as of the 2.0.0 update, new icons are available after playing 9, 99, and 999 matches.
  • Arrange Mode:
    • Bombliss, otherwise known as Tetris Blast, is a mode where setting up a full line, instead of clearing them, sets off bomb squares in the lines cleared. Setting four bomb-squares in the shape of an O tetromino gives you a big bomb. This mode was featured in Tetris Party Deluxe and Tetris Axis.
    • Super Tetris 3 had Magicaliss, in which the pieces had colours and clearing a line of a single colour would lead to all blocks of that colour being cleared, and Sparkliss, which was like Bombliss but with bombs exploding Bomberman style.
    • Tetris: The Grand Master has several different cheat codes that can be entered before starting a new round to access arrange modes. Two particular modes include Big Block Mode where all tetrominoes have double-size dimensions (thus the playfield is effectively 5 x 10 rather than the traditional 10 x 20) and 20G mode where blocks begin with an instant-drop speed if you don't pick a mode that's already at that speed. Note that entering any of these cheats will disqualify you from high scores, even though most of them make the game more difficult.
    • Tetrisphere has the "Lines" mode, where blocks cannot be "dropped" to clear them, but instead, are automatically destroyed when 3 or more identical pieces line up in a sequence.
    • Tetris Worlds has no less than five variations on the classic formula, ranging from simply enabling gravity for stray pieces to the far-fetched "Fusion Tetris" whose goal is to combine as many 1x1 blocks as possible rather than clear lines. Players are slowly introduced to these game modes as they play the campaign. The Game Boy Advance version of Worlds also has "Popular Tetris", which is accessed via cheat code and emulates the classic Game Boy version, gameplay mechanics included.
    • Tetris DS has "Touch Mode", which presents players with a tower of Tetris blocks and slide puzzle mechanics (think Panel de Pon, but with line clears). There's also "Catch Mode", where players maneuver a small core and stick dropping Tetris blocks onto it. Making a 4x4 square triggers a detonation sequence, and points are earned based on how big the core was when it detonated.
    • Wordtris has the player arranging blocks with falling letters to create small words by lining them up either horizontally or vertically.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • 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.
    • Hypertapping in Nintendo NES Tetris, or tapping on the D-Pad 10 times per second, allows you to shift pieces faster than what the game's autoshift can do. However, unless you are playing on an emulator or otherwise have a means of turbofiring the D-pad, it can hurt your thumbs quite easily. Getting to level 30 and beyond is not worth it if you'll likely end up with repetitive stress injury and carpal tunnel syndrome for the rest of your life.
  • Background Music Override: An interesting inversion of this occurs on Tetris 99's Invictus Mode, which can only be played by winners of the base Tetris 99 mode. When the player count drops to 10, the music will change to the appropriate track for the theme you're using, but the background itself will be overwritten unless you're playing on the original theme. This serves as a notice to the player that they've reached the pinnacle and it's also at this point that the pieces drop instantaneously, giving it a very tense feeling of finality.
  • The Backwards Я: Both Atari arcade and Tengen's NES version spell the title as TETЯIS. In other words, TETYAIS. The Atari version goes even further by substituting Я for the regular R in-game, for example, showing "GAME OVEЯ" ("GAME OVEYA") when you lose.
    • The web-based game Tetris Mind Bender has one: the title is stylized as "TETRIS MIND BENDEЯ" ("TETRIS MIND BENDEYA"). If anything, it's probably a Call-Back to the older games and/or a neat Visual Pun.
  • Balance Buff:
    • The purpose of the Arika Rotation System and the Super Rotation System is to give you more flexibility in slipping pieces into tight spaces by ways of "wall kicks", or shifting your piece to adjacent spaces if a rotation would otherwise be blocked by an occupied space.
    • Traditionally in versus modes, you can offset an opponent's attack by clearing a line; you'll either get reduced garbage or even send a line or two if you clear enough lines to remove all of the incoming garbage. Tetris 99 makes counterattacks more powerful: as long as you keep clearing lines, garbage lines that don't get erased will be forced to wait until you put down a non-clearing piece.note 
    • When Tetris 99 was first released, only the Attackers targeting style let you get garbage line bonuses if multiple people were targeting you. This resulted in Attackers being by far the most useful targeting style. Later updates gave you the bonuses for all four targeting styles, as well as manual targeting.
  • Baldness Angst: The Professor hides his baldness with his archeologist hat, but in one of the endings of Tetris Plus 2, Jo uses up the wish she gets remove his hat. He's clearly not happy about it.
  • Battle Royale Game:
    • Tetris 99 pits 99 players against each other. Clearing lines and racking up combos and T-spins will send junk lines to other players; you can pick a target of your choice, or have the game automatically pick a random opponent, whoever is in the lead, whoever is closest to losing, or whoever is targeting you (the only way to target multiple players at once). The game tells you who you're sending junk to, and who's sending it your way.
    • N3TWORK's Tetris, for mobile devices, also has a similar mode, but targetting is always manual (it used to have a slightly different setup where players competed to survive in a battle royale setting without versus mechanics).
  • Behemoth Battle: Played for Laughs in one ending of Tetris Plus 2, which involves the Professor breaking an idol at the altar, releasing the Stick from its spell and causing it to grow giant. The Assistant holds her amulet up to the giant Stick, causing her to also grow giant, and reluctantly square off with it.
  • Big Red Button: Four endings for Tetris Plus feature one, and depending on the ending, cause the pyramid to either blow up, turn into a rocket and blast off, or turn into a Humongous Mecha with the Professor and Jo still in it, with one also instantly turning the Professor into a mummy.
  • 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. Referenced in Puyo Puyo Tetris in how Tee's spaceship is named the Tetra.
  • Bootstrapped Theme: Tetris has more music than the Game Boy's "Type-A" theme! I know! This theme has become so ubiquitous and associated with the franchise that The Tetris Company now owns the rights to the melody and the implementation of it is part of the guideline that licensed Tetris games abide by, making it the official theme song of Tetris as a whole (although it had basically achieved that in de facto status long before being made official).
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Sometimes the best thing to do with an I-piece is to lay it flat, whether to clear a single line or to even out a stack.
    • In games that reward combos (consecutive line-clearing pieces), building a shaft 2-4 cells wide means less Tetrises but you can throw almost any piece into that space to build your combo (or better yet, clear out lines until you can perform a Tetris as a finisher). In versus modes in particular, combo-clearing lines will always send garbage, or counter it if garbage has been queued up to your side, even if you're just clearing one line at a time; not going for combo clears is a good way to get stuffed in Puyo Puyo Tetris and Tetris 99 in particular. Averted if playing a Puyo player in Puyo Puyo Tetris 2; due to Puyo attacks being un-counterable by Tetris players, focusing on a long combo will only get you clobbered by garbage blocks mid-combo, likely pushing your playfield past the top in the process.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: In the games developed by Tetris Online Inc., unlocking the ability to fine-tune your gameplay controls require spending in-game Coins or leveling up significantly.
  • The Bus Came Back: Meta version: Arika, known as the creators of Tetris: The Grand Master, was formerly out of the Tetris business for years after the cancellation of Tetris: The Grand Master 4, but have made a surprise return with Nintendo Switch Online's free-to-play Tetris installment, Tetris 99.
  • The Cameo:
    • Characters from Bomberman make an appearance in Axis' Computer 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.
    • Puyo Puyo Tetris has an unlockable Sonic the Hedgehog tetromino skin. Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 brings Sonic himself into the playable roster.
    • Most of the Tetris 99 skins themed on another game will have at least one character present in that skin. Edelgard, Dmitri, and Claude are on the Fire Emblem: Three Houses skin, for instance. Other examples include Luigi and Gooigi in the Luigi's Mansion 3 skin and the Ring Fit Trainer in the Ring Fit Adventure skin. The skin for Animal Crossing: New Horizons contains roughly 60 characters scattered around the background. The skin for Pokémon Sword and Shield has 98 Pokémon in it, each one representing one of the opponents in a 99-player match.
  • Co-Op Multiplayer:
    • The Tengen NES version of Tetris, Tetris Party, Tetris: The Absolute — The Grand Master 2 PLUS, and Tetris Ultimate have co-op modes where both players place pieces in a shared extra-wide well. Tetris 99 has a post-release mode where two players play together against the computer players. Tetris Kiwamemichi notably has a similar mode that allows up to four players to play together.
    • Tetris Effect has a mode where three players work together to defeat a boss.
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: Most games give each piece its own color; these were standardized across games beginning in 2001. See Rainbow Motif below.
  • Comeback Mechanic:
    • One item in Tetris Axis and Tetris: The Grand Master 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 (or the total inverse).
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • King of them all, however, is Nyet, an obscure series of German Tetris clones that even give the aforementioned Wesleyan Tetris a run for its money. Blocks that suddenly appear and disappear? Check. Invisible blocks? Check. Random force fields that can catch your pieces mid-air? Check. Levels that shift your blocks around after they've been placed combined with a compactor that slowly pushes said pieces towards the top? Oh yeah, check. The third game in particular is particularly egregious in that beating each level earns you money which you can then spend on powerups (which include, among other things, the ability to save your game. Once.). The problem? They cost far more than what most levels pay out, meaning you'll have to finish several levels completely on your own just to buy one powerup, making you wonder if this game is where modern game developers got the idea of microtransactions from. To top it all off, however, some versions of the game have a Game-Breaking Bug that causes the game to crash whenever you fail a level, forcing you to sit through the massively long opening credits sequence all over again before you can take another crack at it. Watch Ross Scott review the game and weep.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Similar to how SRS-based games let you use twists to get a Triple with a T, you can do similar ones for S- and Z-pieces, neither of which can clear three lines at once without twisting. Unfortunately, most official games don't have an "S-Spin" or "Z-Spin" bonus, so the only purpose of S and Z triples other than getting the opportunity by chance is to show off.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: In Tetris 99, you send out bonus garbage if more than one person is targeting you at a time. Therefore, it can be much easier to fend off seven people at a time than one, as you can send all of them more garbage simultaneously than you'd be sending a single person if only they were targeting you.
  • 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:
  • Descending Ceiling: What ends a game in the story mode of Tetris Plus.
  • Difficult, but Awesome:
    • T-Spin Doubles (twisting a T-piece to clear 2 lines) are worth a hefty amount of points and send a lot of garbage lines to the opponent, and are nearly as valuable as a good old Tetris. A T-Spin Triple (T's are impossible to score Triples with if you don't twist them) is very difficult to set up, but in several games, it awards more points and sends more garbage than even a Tetris. Highly skilled players can rapidly set up stacks to pull off T-Spin Doubles and Triples with gusto, and if performed in a versus match, combining these with the Back-to-Back bonus can be fatal to the opponent.
    • In Tetris 99, due to the way both the "K.O.s" and "Attackers" attack mechanics worknote , it's possible to exploit them both by deliberately building your stack as tall as possible (so as to get everyone using "K.O.s" to target you), then switching to "Attackers" yourself. It's a very risky strategy, since its value is directly proportional to how many other players are set to "K.O.s" and can easily backfire with a misdrop or a badly timed attack from an opponent. However, on the average you should get around a couple dozen players attacking you, so taking into account the attack bonus from "Attackers" mode, you can send around a dozen lines to all of your attackers for every single line cleared, which escalates even further if you can pull off combos and when you start racking up badges. If you can pull it off, you can easily net well over a dozen kills in the early game, though the strategy becomes less viable from the midgame onward as the competition dwindles (meaning less players will be targeting you at any given time, thus drastically reducing the bonus) and the pieces start falling faster. See it in action here.
  • Difficulty by Acceleration:
    • Usually in single-player modes, every time you clear a set number of lines (usually 10), the game levels up and pieces will start to fall faster.
    • Marathon mode in modern Tetris games sometimes eschew the "clear x lines" system in favor of a variable-width goal system, where clearing more lines at once will raise the level faster.
    • In Tetris 99, pieces fall faster as based on a timer, regardless of how many players are left. In Invictus mode in particular, the speed will reach 20G (instant drop) when the player count drops to 10.
  • Disney Owns This Trope: The Tetris Company claims the trademark on tetrominos themselves (the shapes made with 4 square blocks) when applied to games, as well as the standard mechanics seen in modern games.
    • While the Korobeiniki song is public domain, the Tetris Company's specific arrangement of the song for the games is trademarked.
      • Even more hilariously, the Tetris Company actually had some trouble acquiring the rights to Korobeiniki while working on the Game Boy version with Nintendo, leading them to release the first batch with a different Music A. These cartridges are nicknamed Minuet Tetris by collectors, are exceedingly rare, and can fetch a serious penny, especially since they were only ever released in Japan.
  • Distaff Counterpart: In Puyo Puyo Tetris, Tee is the male Tetris counterpart to Ringo, the female protagonist on the Puyo Puyo side. He's also a Foil to Ringo in a few ways, such as him being a logical-minded spaceship captain who uses advanced technology whereas Ringo is an emotion-driven planetbound wizard-in-training who relies on magic.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In Tetris Effect, after completing Journey Mode, the game bids farewell by saying "Until the next trip..."
  • Downloadable Content: Tetris 99's "Big Block DLC", named after TGM's Big Mode, includes offline CPU battles and traditional Marathon Mode with additional content planned for later release.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Earlier Tetris games have stickier blocks, i.e. once they land on something, they will lock, except for Sega Tetris games, which add a delay before locking. Many of these earlier games additionally have only one rotation button instead of two.
    • A few of the early home computer versions do not display what the next piece will be, making them much more difficult.
  • 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).
  • Excuse Plot: Tetris Plus has one: An archaeologist and his assistant are excavating tombs and pyramids, only to find there are giant blocks in their way. They have to clear the blocks in Tetris style in order to proceed.
  • 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.
    • 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).
    • The 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.
  • Fake Longevity: 999 Line mode in Tetris 99 Marathon Mode, which is achieved by proportionately stretching out the speed curve. Whereas Level 15 is nearly instant drop speed in 150 Line mode, Level 15 in 999 Line mode feels about as fast as Level 1. The mode does hit a Difficulty Spike at 500 lines but it can take a while to get there.
  • Falling Blocks: The one and only. There's a reason games that don't actually use blocks are still classified as such.
  • Fan Remake: Numerous ports of Tetris have been made over the years, including an incredibly large number of fan-made ones (particularly for DOS).
  • Finale Credits: A rare game example; the end credits for most of the levels in Tetris Plus 2 have the Professor and Jo by a campfire. The final level, however, has two different credits depending on whether it's the normal or extra worlds. The normal world has the Jo and the Professor in schoolgirl uniforms after being given youth, while the extra world has the now-bald Professor upset and looking away from Jo.
  • Fireworks of Victory: The "40 Lines" modes in Tetris DX rewards you with a night-time fireworks display after you finish. The faster you finish, the more fireworks there are. - Unlaunched Trope
  • Game-Breaking Bug: The N3TWORK mobile version of Tetris would freeze if the player performed a Mini T-Spin Double (which is notoriously poorly handled by official games in general). This was fixed in a later update.
  • Guide Dang It!: 99 is particularly guilty of this, as the game doesn't tell you how the underlying mechanics work.
    • Badges are earned by scoring KO's on other players via sending them garbage. The Badges you earn translate into an attack bonus (represented by a percent multiplier) that boosts the number of Garbage Lines earned and cleared by clearing lines. This makes knocking out stragglers early a major point, as entering the endgame with less Badges than your opposition will make it very difficult to get rid of Garbage before it lands on your field.
    • The Right Stick can be used to target players of your choice. Random lets the game pick your targets with each attack, KOs targets players who are close to a potential KO, Badges targets players with the most Badges, and Attackers targets players who are also targeting you. Alternatively, you can use the Left Stick or touchscreen to target players manually.
      • If you use the "Attackers" targeting option, the amount of Garbage you send is multiplied the number opponents you are targeting, so for example an attack that sends 4 lines to 3 different players will send 4 lines to each targeted player (for a total of 12 lines). You will also send out "bonus" Garbage based on the number of players that are targeting you, regardless of which targeting mode you are using. Later updates reduced this bonus but applied it to all four attacking types, which can get confusing if someone used to using one of the other targeting options is suddenly throwing out more garbage than they expected.
    • The column on the left side of the screen represents chunks of Garbage that is queued to deploy on your field. Yellow means you have a few seconds left, red means you have very little time left, and blinking red means it will deploy after the next piece lock that isn't a line clear. While this itself seems intuitive, the game doesn't tell you that you can delay the Garbage timer by clearing lines, which causes the timer to rewind a few fractions of a second per line clear.
  • Hidden Mechanic: Across Tetris games descended from Sega's 1988 arcade version, the game processes sideways movement and piece rotations before gravity. This isn't really noteworthy at lower gravity, but when the game starts to drop pieces at a rate of one grid cell every frame, the player can take advantage of this to "jump" pieces across gaps, in a technique known within the community as a "synchro".
  • Hot Springs Episode: One ending of Tetris Plus 2 has the Queen inviting the Professor and Jo to magic hot springs which she claims are the keys to youth. While the Assistant gets to share the hot springs with her, the Professor is stuck in the men's hot spring with the Stick.
  • The Hunter Becomes the Hunted:
    • In Tetris 99, one of the auto-target options will pick opponents who are leading in badge count. Badges are earned from KO'ing opponents and apply a multiplier to the number of garbage lines you send to other players. In other words, wiping out a lot of opponents early on can lead to you suddenly faced with a big queue of garbage lines, not only putting your offense on hold but also likely getting you taken out if you can't chain-clear lines. (However, having more KO badges also multiplies the number of garbage lines you can remove from your incoming stack.)
    • You can also invert this if multiple people are aiming at you and you set your targeting to Attackers; the bonus Garbage given out when being targeted by many players can overwhelm the opposition, even when just clearing singles and doubles.
  • 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.
  • Interface Screw: The third Maximus Cup in Tetris 99 prominently features a Retraux Game Boy theme that uses an extremely faithful recreation of the famous game's design, complete with unique Tetris block patterns. However, because the entire theme uses monochrome patterns on each block to distinguish between pieces, players who are used to using the piece colors to easily identify blocks can have a difficult time adjusting. While this issue would normally be solved by using the standard skin, the Maximus Cup forces the theme to be always on for the duration of the event, meaning that you are required to play with the Game Boy skin on. That said, this trope can be inverted for colorblind players, who may need visual cues besides piece color to differentiate between pieces and as such are less likely to be bothered by the 4-color palette imposed by the Game Boy Skin since the blocks use different designs for each tetromino.
  • 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. Reflecting this status, Tee is the protagonist of the Tetris side of Puyo Puyo Tetris. However, horizontal Z/S and vertical J/L pieces can more fully fill spaces it cannot, making them more specialized to close gaps.
  • Kabuki Sounds: In The New Tetris, the song "Japan" is made entirely of kabuki sound and voice clips.
  • Kill Screen: Starting at Level 29 of Nintendo's NES version, pieces fall so fast that reaching the edge of the screen requires Button Mashing at 30Hz. This was believed essentially impossible for 30-odd years... until the discovery of the "rolling" techniquenote , finally allowed human players to play indefinitely, reaching a game-crashing kill screen previously believed to be TAS-only at around 1550 lines. Versions based on SEGA's 1988 Tetris game, as well as current Tetris games with endless modes, tend to avert it entirely 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.
  • Luck-Based Mission: The Puzzle mode of Tetris Plus doesn't give you a fixed order of blocks, meaning that there's no consistently repeatable strategy to solve the "puzzles" in question. It's also not too uncommon to end up in situations where you'll just be ramming blocks down to destroy them against the descending ceiling trying to get one that you can use, only for it to just never show up.
  • Magic Versus Science: Used in the Puyo Puyo Tetris games to contrast the Puyo characters and settings from the Tetris characters and settings. The Puyo side is firmly magic-themed, made up of various wizards, magical creatures, and miscellaneous spellcasters in and around a Wizarding School. The Tetris side, on the other hand, are on the side of science, with its protagonist being a starship captain and having characters such as an engineer, a robot, and Mission Control, all of whom are a great deal calmer and more analytical than their Puyo counterparts. Ringo and the Suzuran characters, meanwhile, use both magic and science, allowing the two sides to get along fairly quickly.
  • Marathon Level: Taken to its logical conclusion in 99's "999 Line Mode", which is potentially one of the longest-lasting modes ever featured in a Tetris game without being an Endless Game. The goal is to clear a whopping 999 lines in a single run without getting a Game Over; depending on how fast you play, this can take anywhere between 20 minutes to over an hour.
  • Market-Based Title: Tetris 2 was originally known as Tetris Flash in Japan, but Nintendo decided to promote it in the west as a direct sequel to the original rather than the spin-off game it was originally intended to be (in fact, it mechanically more resembles Dr. Mario than Tetris).
    • Conversely, in Japan Tetris 2 was used for a revised Famicom port of the original that eschewed the Russian-inspired graphics for what could best be described as a hospital waiting room aesthetic. It was packaged as part of a two-game cart with Bombliss, a variant which was also ported on its own to the Game Boy, which was released in the west as Tetris Blast.
  • Mechanical Lifeforms: The Minos in Tetris Worlds.
  • Multiple Endings:
    • The NES version of Tetris had rocket launches if you got at least 30,000 points. The fourth level is the Buran space shuttle. If you score 120,000 or higher, they put a UFO on the launch pad, but the nearby St Basil's Cathedral launches instead for the Type A ending, Type B likewise has the Nintendo cameos note  while the domes on St. Basil's are revealed to be rockets that all launch.
    • 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 in order: note . If you play well enough, the same rocket is launched successfully that is later revealed to be carrying the titular tetriminoes.
    • Tetris Plus and Tetris Plus 2 have multiple endings featuring the Professor and the Assistant, most of which make the Professor into a Butt-Monkey. The Queen and the Stick also show up in some of them.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Jo/Joshuko, the Assistant from Tetris Plus, is an attractive anime-styled archeologist girl who wears shorts (with her especially getting a lot of focus in Plus 2). One ending in Plus has her wearing a bathing suit at the oasis, while in Plus 2 she even gets a (partial) nude scene when she's in the hot springs.
  • Mythology Gag: Tetris 99 features several references to the TGM series:
    • The game has a robotic voice saying "READY, GO" at the start of the round, similar to (but not exactly the same as) TGM. Also a Production Throwback, as both were developed by Arika and are the only games in the Tetris franchise to have something like this.
    • The paid DLC is called the Big Block DLC, a nod to Big Block Mode in the TGM series.note 
    • One of the Marathon options is 999 Line mode, referring to the 999 levels features in the TGM games' Master modes. In addition, getting to the 500th line triggers a massive Difficulty Spike via a sudden and substantial drop speed increase, referencing TGM games reaching 20G drop speed at Level 500.
  • 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.
    • Also, in Marathon Mode of Tetris DS, while the previous four levels (16-19) play a "Hurry Up!" for their melody, the final level (Level 20) changes the music one last time into an awesome fast remix of the classic Tetris music.
    • Tetris 99 shifts to a high-intensity mix of Flight of the Bumblebee when the battlefield has been reduced to the last 10 players. Later updates would add additional themes, which would play their own music (including songs from official Nintendo games). These songs would range from upbeat to incredibly frantic.
  • 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. Several subsequent games simply don't recognize T-Spin Triples. Although the the latest games still recognize them, the number of lines of garbage sent by T-Spin Triples are reduced to six.
    • 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.
    • The Tetris side of Puyo Puyo Tetris was nerfed at least three times, though the third was in the transition to Puyo Puyo Tetris 2. The nerfs generally revolve around slowing down Tetris play and reducing the severity of attacks done to Puyo players, though the one for Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 renders Tetris players unable to counter incoming rows of garbage blocks from Puyo players. This change effectively guarantees a Tetris player who cannot prevent a Puyo player from making a sufficiently long chain will lose.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The "Random Generator" used to deal out pieces in later iterations is, in fact, very restrictive and predictable. More specifically, it deals out permutations of the seven tetrominoes, meaning that every 7 pieces you are guaranteed to have an equal number of each tetromino dealt so far.
  • 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. The primary use for the plot is just allowing for the comedic cutscenes that show up after a level is cleared.
      • The New Tetris appears to be about the player using blocks cleared in gameplay to assemble various life-size landmarks from around the world, though it's not entirely clear.
    • Puyo Puyo Tetris averts this trope, featuring a story mode that not only includes Puyo Puyo characters, but also new characters that represent Tetris.
  • 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".
    • Versions of Kalinka and have appeared in a number of Tetris games as well.
    • A specific arrangement of Korobeiniki is a trademark of The Tetris Company. You have been warned!
    • Music C in the Game Boy version is an arrangement of Johann Sebastian Bach's French Suite No. 3 In B Minor, BWV 814, IV. Menuett – Trio. In the game, the song actually plays in F sharp minor.
    • Tetris 99 features an intense arrangement of Flight of the Bumblebee that plays when only 10 players remain.
  • Rainbow Motif:
    • Most games give each of the seven pieces their own unique colors. The current colors that games conforming to the official Tetris Guideline follow are red for Z, orange for L, yellow for O, green for S, cyan for I, blue for J, and purple for T.
      • Puyo Puyo Tetris has a character representing each of the Tetriminos, which have accents of the same color as their corresponding Tetrimino. That Tetrimino, or its general shape, usually appears on their clothing somewhere too (or, in the case of Zed, on his metal frame). Ex's color is gray, which doesn't exist among Tetriminoes, though garbage blocks are gray.
    • Sega's original Tetris arcade game instead uses red for I, cyan for T, and purple for Z. Games by Jaleco, Capcom, and Arika follow this color scheme, as the Sega arcade game was the first version to be released in Japan and was very influential on subsequent versions. This color scheme was retired after the mid-2000's and the establishment of the Tetris Guideline, but was brought back for Sega's Puyo Puyo Tetris as an unlockable block skin.
  • Rank Inflation: Present in Super Tetris 3, Tetris Worlds, and Tetris Effect, among others.
  • Retraux: Several recent games would have alternate in-game themes which replicate the look of older Tetris games, particularly the Game Boy version. For example:
    • The aptly-named "1989" skin in Tetris Effect, which is only usable during events or unlocked at Level 50, emulates the colors and design of the famous Game Boy version, complete with a remix of "Korobeiniki" playing over the game.
    • The third Tetris Maximus cup in Tetris 99 changes everything to look like the Game Boy classic; the playing board is modeled after the handheld itself, the "screen" is the distinct lime-green color, the pieces are all green and differentiated by other visuals, the music is the old Korobeiniki, the sounds are also cribbed from the game, and the background looks like a classic piece of promotional art for the game. Getting enough points during the tournament allowed players to use this unique theme outside of the tournament; the version 2.1 update unlocks this theme for all players.
    • Similarly, the N3TWORK version of the game has an 8-Bits theme which replicates the Game Boy version's graphics. Performing a Tetris clear will briefly turn the play field to full color (based on Tetris DX) before flashing back to monochrome after a few seconds.
    • Puyo Puyo Tetris has an unlockable block skin that resembles the blocks from 1988 Sega Tetris, even down to the piece colors. It also has a block skin called Monochrome that, like the aforementioned Tetris Effect skin, replicates the Game Boy design. A series of backgrounds also take from SEGA's prior Tetris games, both in the arcade and on home consoles.
    • The PlayStation 2 Sega Ages 2500 Compilation Re-release of Sega's Tetris games includes Tetris New Century, a new game that uses Tetris Guideline rules with the graphics and music of the 1988 Sega arcade game.
    • The Tetris 99 skin themed on Super Mario All-Stars reimagines all of the graphics as if they were on the Super Nintendo/Super Famicom.
  • Sailor Fuku: Jo and the Professor gain these in one of the final endings for Tetris Plus 2, after the Stick gives them youth.
  • 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.
  • Series Mascot: Sega's Tetris games have a distinct monkey mascot, first appearing in the 1988 arcade Tetris when you get a Game Over and appearing in various contexts in later Sega Tetris games, such as 1999's Sega Tetris where it wields a mallet that bashes away lines that you clear. It makes one more appearance in a multiplayer-only background in Puyo Puyo Tetris.
  • Shown Their Work: Neil Voss went to great lengths to make music for The New Tetris fit the overall folk music of each location featured in the game, albeit with his signature techno mixed in. "Morocco" is a good example in that he opted against using generic Arabian-sounding instruments in the Arabian music scale, and instead created traditional-sounding Berber music.
  • Simple, yet Awesome: The titular Tetris is this. You simply need to stack blocks such that you leave a shaft that's at least four cells tall, then drop an I-piece into it, erasing four lines at once. While this is more difficult in earlier games due to those games using largely-random randomizers, in modern Tetris games it's easier due to the "Bag" randomizer guaranteeing an I (along with the other six tetrominoes) in each seven-piece sequence, and it's easier to pull off than T-Spins which require more conscious piece placement.
  • Smart Bomb: The target word in Wordtris acts like this because spelling it with blocks will clear all the blocks on screen for massive points.
  • 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.
    • In Tetris 99, as the number of active players dwindles, the background music changes from faster-paced remix of the first song (at 50 players remaining) to an incredibly frantic version of "Flight of the Bumblebee" (at 10 players remaining). If the player is using the classic Game Boy skin, the latter song is simply replaced with "even faster retro Korobeiniki". If the player is using the Splatoon skin, the track most notably changes to "Now Or Never!" (the "1 minute remaining" theme from Splatoon) at 10 players left. Other skins follow suit, and those based on Nintendo games will often use music directly from the game the skin is based on.
    • Tetris Plus had the appropriately named "Panic" track for when the professor got too close to the saw.
  • Spelling Bonus: If the player manages to spell the target word in Wordtris, all of the blocks are eliminated from the screen and the player earns massive points.
  • 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. Bomb blocks are present in every piece, and line clears are replaced with a system where more lines filled at the same time, including ones without bombs, means bigger explosions.
  • Unwinnable by Design: The 2023 mobile version of Tetris has a level mode, where the player has to clear a certain number of lines in each stage. An update in late 2023 added "hard levels", where "hard" apparently means that there's not enough pieces to clear the required number of lines, forcing the player to use powerups. The game was already well into Allegedly Free Game territory, but this is plain ridiculous.
  • Updated Re Release:
    • Tetris & Dr. Mario for SNES, both of which are based on the NES versions of their respective games, featuring remixed graphics and sound plus an exclusive "Mixed Match" mode. Super Tetris 2 + Bombliss for the SNES is this to Tetris 2 + Bombliss for the NES.
    • The version of Tetris on the Genesis Mini is this to the 1988 SEGA arcade version, being a recreation of it except with the addition of optional clockwise rotation and hard drop buttons. Despite what marketing material says, it is not based on the cancelled 1989 version, instead created from whole cloth specifically for the Genesis Mini.
  • Video Game 3D Leap:
    • Block Out, a 1989 game by California Dreams, features the same core gameplay but in 3-dimensional wells of varying dimensions and pieces that are 1-3 blocks large in addition to the usual tetrominoes. Instead of clearing "lines", you clear "faces" — layers of blocks that completely cover the bottom of the well. An open-source version for modern systems is still actively maintained.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 2001'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.
    • T-Spin setups require you to create overhangs, which in nearly all other contexts are undesirable especially at low-gravity play.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: The ending of the normal world for the final level in Tetris Plus 2 has the Stick bestowing youth on the Professor and Jo. Except the Professor also gets a schoolgirl uniform, and a pair of pigtails to boot.
  • World Tour: The overall theme of The New Tetris is this trope. Each stage is set in a different part of the world, usually near a famous landmark. Naturally, the last stop is Russia.
    • Sega Tetris (from 1999) also has this as the theme for its single-player mode. Each level takes place in a real world locations (save for places like Atlantis and The Moon) such as Mount Rushmore or the Galapagos Islands.