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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 (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.
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). 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 hardcore gamers and nongamers 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 devised. But, due to the creator's frustration with clones of that game, its future is bleak.
As you've probably noticed, The Advertisement Server is currently promoting 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!
Tetris and games developed by fans of Tetris can contain examples of:
- Allegedly Free Game / 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 Backwards R: 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.
- 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.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Bastet, a bastard version of classic Tetris designed to deny you pieces you really need. Even the game's homepage says so itself.
- Amusingly, Bastet does not simply give you the worst possible piece for your situation - if it did, it could give you a sequence of pieces that is impossible to clear.
- Averted in the original. 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.
- Averted hard in most versions since 2001. The Random Generator deals all pieces seven at a time and is guaranteed to generate an equal number of each piece.
- Difficulty by Acceleration
- 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).
- Executive Meddling: The fates of the Tengen version of NES Tetris and the Genesis/MegaDrive port of Sega's arcade version of Tetris. Recently, the Tetris Guideline has been a notorious example.
- 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 Elektronika-60 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.
- Filk Song: Brental Floss' Tetris with lyrics! and Tetris Suicide.
- Killer App: This game made the Game Boy, and it was packed in with the system for years.
- 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.
- Multi Platform: Official record holder for that, not even counting the innumerable clones, knockoffs, and imitators.
- 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 4 levels play a "Hurry Up!" for their melody, the final level (Level 20) changes the music one last time into an awesome remix of the classic Tetris music.
- No Export for You: Most versions based on Sega's original arcade version.
- Also, Tetris 64, though with other games of an arguably superior quality, such as Tetrisphere, The New Tetris, and Magical Tetris Challenge, as well as having a peripheral made for that game when other Nintendo 64 games had peripherals supporting multiple games, it's probably for the better.
- No Plot, No Problem: Most iterations of the game.
- 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.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: The NES version used Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy", while the Game Boy and most later versions are known for the Russian folk song Korobeiniki".
- A specific arrangement of Korobeiniki is a trademark of The Tetris Company. You have been warned!
- Public Medium Ignorance: Some people think all versions of Tetris play exactly the same, and as such cry "Fake!" whenever they see a TGM video.
- Rainbow Motif: The current color set up for the Tetriminoes follows this, except with violet replaced with cyan. For the curious, these are Z, L, O, S, I, J, and T.
- Rank Inflation: Present in Super Tetris 3, Tetris Worlds, and possibly others.
- 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.
- 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 Spin-Off BomBliss.
- The Tetris Effect: The Trope Namer.
- 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.
- 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.