Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.


Posted by Tracy Poff on October 28, 2008

Tetris, the classic falling blocks game, was released by Nintendo in November 1989.

Truly, Tetris needs no introduction. There are hundreds of implementations of this simple, yet challenging game. Nintendo’s 1989 offering for the NES is quite well-done.

There are few options. The player can choose between A-type and B-type games, and select which music should be played, if any.

The A-type game is simply pieces falling endlessly, with the goal being to obtain the highest score. The six types of pieces fall starting at the top of the screen, and proceed toward the bottom. While they are in the air, the player can move them left and right, rotate them, or cause them to drop more quickly. Some of the pieces are rarer than others, so it’s necessary to choose where the pieces are placed with care–you can’t count on a line appearing whenever you need it.

For every ten lines you complete, the game’s speed increases one level and the colors of the blocks change. The more lines you eliminate at once, the more points you get, with a Tetris (four lines removed) scoring the most points. You also score more points if you’re at a higher level–each line is worth ten times as much at level nine as it is at level zero, for example.

As the game progresses and the blocks fall faster, the game becomes much more difficult. If the blocks reach too high on the screen, the music will speed up as a warning. If the blocks reach the top of the screen, you lose.

The B-type game is similar to the A-type game, except that rather than playing endlessly, the goal is to remove 25 lines at a particular level, and with a set height of blocks added at the start. Now the lines count down, and the game ends upon removing all 25.

You’re given a score based on the level and height you selected, as well as the points accumulated while removing the lines.

If your score is high enough, you can enter your name on the high score table, and be known far and wide as a Tetris master–at least until you power off the console. I played this game a lot when I was younger, though I suppose I wasn’t that skilled at it–on a good game, I’d get about 110 lines, though I understand that experts can get over 200.

Though this is a fairly old game, it’s quite nice. The graphics are nice, clear, and colorful (though the color schemes for some of the levels are a bit ugly), the music is good, and the gameplay is simply excellent. The B-type game offers a nice, quick challenge if you’re in the mood, and the A-type is nice for slightly longer gaming sessions. Of course, there are many other versions of Tetris, which may be better or worse than this one (I hear that Tengen’s NES version is superior), but Nintendo’s Tetris is definitely worth playing.

Personal Slant

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