back to article Happy Birthday Tetris: It's flipping 30

Forget the oil, forget the gas – even forget the aggressive foreign policy. The commodity that granted Russia its modern day super-wealth is clearly Tetris, which clocks up its 30th birthday today. Youtube Video Poor old beardie Alexey Pajitnov – the title’s original designer and programmer – bashed out his first attempt on a …


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  1. Alphabet Soup 1


    Loved it. Less keen on the after-effects: putting my head on the pillow in bed after an evening playing and still seeing those falling blocks ...

    1. monkeyfish

      Re: After-effects

      To be fair, that happens with any video game if you play it long enough. I've had it with wipeout, tony hawks, even doom.

      1. WraithCadmus

        Re: After-effects

        I had DDR dreams, when I closed my eyes I saw rising arrows.

        1. P. Lee

          Re: After-effects

          Even the CRT's dreamed of Tetris.

          Long after they had powered down and gone to sleep, the images were still there...

      2. Don Dumb

        Re: After-effects

        @monkeyfish - After Effects - To be fair, that happens with any video game if you play it long enough. I've had it with wipeout, tony hawks, even doom.

        I nostalgically remember we played so much of The Sims when at uni, my housemate dreamt of living his life by progress bars! Good times.

        Can't say I would want to have a Doom dream mind.

      3. Evil Auditor Silver badge

        Re: After-effects

        Especially Doom! Even dreamed of it while falling asleep during chemistry lecture.

        Just to wake up and realising the bloody nightmare isn't over - I hated chemistry.

      4. Norman Hartnell

        Re: After-effects

        For me, it was Elite - could still see those spinning ships as I tried to sleep...

      5. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: After-effects

        I used to have it from collecting psilocybe semilanceata. I do mean from collecting them as opposed to using them.

        1. Richard Altmann

          Re: After-effects

          You touch them, that´s it

    2. LarsG

      Re: After-effects

      I spent an entire flight to Sydney playing it on a Nintendo thingy, then spent the entire flight back dreaming about it.

      1. stucs201

        Re: After-effects

        For me it was any of the Lego games, specifically collecting 'studs', especially once the multipliers and 'stud magnet' red bricks were unlocked and there was a constant stream of them.

    3. Richard Altmann

      Re: After-effects

      Ever thought i was cool until i dreamt Doom

  2. Jedit Silver badge

    Tetris is boring

    It must be, it's a game four squares.

    Seriously: the soundtrack for the C64 version is brilliant. I'm going to listen to the whole damn thing when I can get onto YouTube.

  3. stanimir

    I recall Tetris winning game of the year few years in a row beating all blockbusters... Yet now I can't remember which magazine was one published the chart. My first instinct was "BYTE" but not sure any more.

  4. monkeyfish

    Tetris 2

    I've got the GB version on the 3DS now, and the music started playing in my head as soon as I saw the the word 'Tetris'.

    But my favourite version has to be Tetris 2 on the ZX. It had a challenge mode with 99 levels. Some gave you a quota of 1's, 2's, etc, others gave you certain bricks to destroy, or just survive for 10 secs of stupid speed.

    If you completed all 99 levels it would tell you to F*** OFF as you must have cheated. As it was, I was playing on an emulator, so I was able to save my progress and come back later. Which is cheating I suppose, so they were right.

    1. ThomH

      Re: Tetris 2

      Tetris 2 on the Spectrum is indeed the finest thing. I had a version for the Sam in which someone had adapted the AY music to the SAA; it's quite possibly the game I played most. Though my choice of computers didn't leave me exactly overflowing with options. Prince of Persia, anyone?

      1. monkeyfish

        Re: Tetris 2

        The Sam coupé?! My best friend of the time had one of those.. In fact, is that you? He name was (and I presume still is) Thomas, and his surname began with and H. Does splitting a certain road-sign in half with bicycle ring any bells?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Tetris spawned a whole raft of puzzle clones as well which differed enough to ensure there were no legal problems. Columns, Puznic and even games like Atari's Klax owe alot to Tetris.

    My favourite versions of Tetris are the Gameboy, but also the PD Giger Tetris on the Amiga.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon

      Re: Clones

      Which was the one where you could play two player and cast spells at your opponents tableau?

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon
        Thumb Up

        Re: Clones

        Found it..

        Tetris Battle Gaiden

        Highly recommended

        1. DaneB

          Re: Clones

          Sounds good. Which platform was that on?

          1. Sir Runcible Spoon

            Re: Clones

            SNES I think

  6. Jimboom

    This song is going to be in my head all day now!

    And I haven't even listened to it. Strange that i have not picked up that game in many many years, but I can still recall that music with crystal clarity. Every little pitch change and warble coming through those tinny little speakers.

    And I know this is going to be my mental soundtrack to today and possibly the weekend, I don't mind it one little bit.

    In fact I think the first thing I am going to do when I get home tonight is go dig through my old boxes for my gameboy! Which to my knowledge, still has the Tetris cartridge in it.

    Opps, too late. I'm humming it to myself already.

    I for one welcome our 2 dimensional, block dropping overlords.

    1. Don Dumb

      Re: This song is going to be in my head all day now!

      @Jimboom - One of my favourite music videos, introduced to me by Adam Buxton's BUG, is the 'History of the Soviet Empire to the theme of Tetris'. Absolutely glorious -

      1. Chika

        Re: This song is going to be in my head all day now!

        Haven't seen it in a while but yes, it's a great song!

    2. blearrgh

      Re: This song is going to be in my head all day now!

      It's my current ringtone. Every phone call is a little jaunt back to 1990.

  7. Shrimpling

    Tetris Watch

    I had one of the Tetris Watches... My Mum had an East German pen pal and had purchased it as a Christmas Gift for their children.

    My Dad pointed out sending them something with "From Russia with Love" printed on the packaging in December 89 probably wouldn't go down so well and I ended up with it!

  8. deadlockvictim

    The perfect game

    I came across Tetris first on the Mac Plus and I became addicted. Unlike games like Civ where a full game lasts many days (or not, if you can get by without sleep), Tetris can be played for 10 minutes in the middle of some necessary but dull work (like reading academic journals).

    With Tetris you can set the level of your perfection, want it faster? start at a higher level, want it to solve it in style? then only eliminate 4 rows at a time and then strive to have no more than 4 rows at any one time, want it trickier? then start with a board already incompletely filled.

    It is no surprise that it finds itself installed on or available to every new iteration of hardware.

    1. Adam 1

      Re: The perfect game

      Civ > all other games ever.

      That is all

      1. Sandtitz Silver badge

        Re: The perfect game

        Nethack > Boulder Dash > Civ 1 > the rest.


        1. P. Lee

          Re: The perfect game

          Wuss! You'd be useless in a maze of twisty passages, all alike! Now get the xyzzy out of here!

          Ok, I admit it. I won Moria, but I'm not so sure about my A-Levels.

    2. Ian 55

      Perfect tedium

      Obviously, I'm going to be downvoted for this, but Tetris is a boring puzzle game for people who can't do Sokoban.

  9. MikeyD85

    I am the man

    Who arranges the blocks

    That continue to fall

    From up above!

    1. hplasm

      Re: I am the man

      Tetris: A metaphor for life.

      </crushing >

  10. dotdavid

    I had Tetris on the Gameboy, but I think my favourite was the version (ZTetris?) I downloaded for my TI-83 graphics calculator.

  11. Peter Simpson 1
    Thumb Up

    Data General DG/ONE

    I worked at DG, and there was a copy of the Spectrum Holobyte version floating around. If you put it on the right machine, you could get the music. Oh, for the good old days of VGA graphics and tinny Russian music! Sad about the authors having to fight so hard for a share of the profits, though. The two of them deserve to be wealthy men.

    Great game, my wife is still addicted.

    // where's the Tetris icon?

  12. William Towle


    ...I used to think I liked the Spectrum version most but after lots and lots of time on the Gameboy in two-player mode I found it odd to go back to. These days, I find Hell Tetris (see above) oddly calming whether taking it seriously as a game or just exercising the physics engine for a giggle.

    1. stucs201

      Re: Oblig.

      Its fine to invent silly variants, just don't combine it with other games

  13. stucs201

    Playing where you shouldn't

    The (PC) version I had included both a 'boss screen' (dummy spreadsheet) and a TSR version. Either was great for playing on the school computers at lunchtime.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Sound of Tetris

    I just liked the music, which I recently bought - both the game-version and a dulcimer version from a compilation of tues from Belarus - its apparently a traditional folk tune.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    best clone ever.

    Twintris on the Amiga. The single most beautiful rendition of Tetris ever.

    Hours I spent with the ex missus on that game...

  16. Joseph Bryant


    Here is "Hatetris", which always gives you the worst possible tetronimo.

  17. RyokuMas

    Too bad...

    ... that if it were a new game today it wouldn't work on the mobile market.

  18. Alistair


    Scarily enough I have a copy of welltris that still works. So much for this weekend.

  19. SW10
    Thumb Up

    House rules

    I remember gathering around a work machine to play Tetris. The background art on one of the levels featured a man with a striking resemblance to British F1 driver of the day.

    Upon reaching that level, colleagues would call out (in their best Murray Walker voice)

    And! It's! Man-sell!

    At which point the keyboard had to be handed over.

  20. Adam 1

    Bum baba bum baba bum baba bum baba bum baba bum ba bum bum bum

    Bum ba bum baba ... now you got it in my head. Thanks a lot!

  21. Jim 59

    Why no coin op version ?

    Genius game. Any platform, anywhere, anytime. It will out last all of us.

    Wonder why there was never a coin op version ? Iron curtain shenanigans perhaps.

    1. RNixon

      Re: Why no coin op version ?

      There was, I've played it quite a few times. Two-player, at that.

      There was also a Mickey Mouse Tetris machine, as I recall.

      1. Jim 59

        Re: Why no coin op version ?

        Oh yeah...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why no coin op version ?

      I remember a video game with a 3D version (not called Tetris) that was awesome, and allowed competing against another player. Anyone remember what it was called? Saw it in the early 90s, maybe 1991 or so.

      1. ThomH

        Re: Why no coin op version ? @DougS

        Block Out, maybe?

    3. BorkedAgain

      Re: Why no coin op version ?

      Indeed there was. I remember many an evening off in Pfullendorf at the local pool hall which also had a Tetris coin-op in the corner. Happy days indeed...

  22. blofse

    I am not sure anyone remembers...


    This was released at the same time I was at my UK college, and was responsible for my very first search on google, in 1999. I needed to download the .exe file and google was much better than AltaVista at getting specific file names.

    Anyway, Tetrinet was great against six players on local lan - and the game mechanics was the same as normal, however as you cleared certain squares you got certain powerups. These could be distributed for each one of the other players - which meant you and your good friends could gang up on the guy you 'hate'.

    It was amazing fun, and I have not really played a multiplayer version like it since.

    But then that died and we then all started playing drug wars, which is another game I miss!

    My friend an I also enjoy playing the Atari Arcade version of tetris - which gets stupidly hard without a decent controller. We used to drink while playing and basically gave up after a couple of hours because of a lack of ability to play. Fun times!

  23. Pete Spicer

    In Mother Russia, Tetris plays you!

  24. The Infamous Grouse
    Thumb Up

    Tetris DX still #1

    For me, Tetris peaked with the DX version on the Game Boy Color. The mode that learned players' styles then let you play against them when they weren't around, or let you play against yourself, was genius. It was almost certainly doing nothing cleverer than reproducing scoring odds over time, rather than actually playing a game in the background, but the feeling of it emulating a particular player's strategy was quite convincing.

    I've played just about every Tetris before and since but all of the more recent versions either over-egg the graphical pudding, add unnecessary complexity, or choose bad control methods for inappropriate devices e.g. touch screens. And as for the very recent apps, where progression is more or less denied without coughing up for repeated micro-transactions, I can't imagine anything further from the game's Soviet roots.

    1. disco_stu

      Re: Tetris DX still #1

      Infamous Grouse speaks the truth! No fancy addons/additions that mess with the gameplay.

      I think my high score on Tetris DX was in the region of 1m points.

  25. OrsonX

    EA Tetris

    Tetris raison d'etre: lines

    EA version: "targets"

  26. DaneB


    Ultra-sound equipment though? Baby tetris?

  27. Stoneshop

    MC 1260 "Электроника 60М"

    If that's not a copy of a DEC PDP11/03 or 11/23, I'll eat my hat.

  28. hi_robb

    Wow, Tetris is really 30 years old...

    t's getting a bit round the block now.

  29. FBee

    100 bucks for Tengen version

    One of my first online purchases was in 1996, buying the Tengen version for NES for $100 from some unknown person. I snailmailed the cash and got the game the same way...and was the laughingstock of the Usenet gamers group for a couple of years it still worth the price? To me, YES! Firing up the NES and enjoying a two-player round with the seldom-heard Tengen soundtrack RULES

  30. Spleen

    I remember playing a great freeware variant called Wormtris on the Amiga, which used various bits of art from the original Worms game. Occasionally you would get worms dropping down (which were 1x1 in size), and you would have to avoid squishing worms with the blocks, as after you'd killed a certain number... er, something would happen. I can't remember exactly what happened but it would play the "Revenge!" sample and screw up the playing field somehow. It was an interesting addition as very often you had a dilemma between placing a block somewhere annoying, or squishing a worm and storing up trouble later.

    There were also sheep which you could use to blow blocks up. I'm sure there was other weird power-up stuff but it's all escaped me. Anyone else play it?

  31. Sebastian Brosig

    Anyone remember Dan Quayle?

    invoking xtetris --qualyle made it easier, you only got squares

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