Tetris: The Grand Master

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Tetris: The Grand Master
Tetris-The Grand Master.jpg
Xbox 360 cover
Developer(s) Arika
Publisher(s) Capcom (1)
Psikyo (2)
Taito (3)
AQ Interactive (Ace)
Platform(s) Arcade, Xbox 360
Release date(s) 1998 (1)
2000 (2)
2005 (3, Ace)
Genre(s) Puzzle
Mode(s) Up to 2 players simultaneously
Arcade system Sony ZN-2 (1)
Psikyo SH2 (2)
Taito Type X (3)

Tetris: The Grand Master (テトリス ザ・グランドマスター Tetorisu: Za Gurando Masutā?) is a series of puzzle games created by Arika based on the popular Tetris license. The Grand Master series introduced several play mechanics to Tetris gameplay which can be seen today in its sequels and many other Tetris implementations.

The original game was followed by two sequels also developed by Arika: Tetris the Absolute: The Grand Master 2 in 2000 (with a Plus version released soon after) and Tetris: The Grand Master 3 - Terror-Instinct in 2005. A related console game, Tetris: The Grand Master Ace was published by AQ Interactive on December 10, 2005 and was a launch title for the Xbox 360's Japan release.


The basic gameplay of TGM is similar to that of other Tetris games. The player must move and rotate Tetromino-shaped pieces falling into a well to form horizontal lines, which will then be cleared. During gameplay, the game automatically gives ranks to the player according to his/her score, starting from 9 all the way up to GM (Grand Master).


In most Tetris games, the game level (signifying its difficulty) will increase by one every time the player clears 10 lines. A different system is used in TGM however. Levels in TGM increase by one for every piece placed and locked down and for every line cleared. The exception to the rule is when the lower two digits of the level is at 99 (99, 199, 299, etc.) and on level 998. When in this state, the level can only be increased by clearing lines, and not by placing pieces.

The ultimate goal of the game is to reach level 999 (1300 in TGM3 Shirase mode), the highest level, and attain the GM rank.


The fall speed is measured in units called G, or grid cells per frame. For the first 300 levels, the game speed is less than 1G. After reaching level 500, the falling pieces cease to have an airborne phase and instead will instantly appear at the bottom. This state is referred to by developers of the game as 20G. Previously, players would align the horizontal position while the piece is still airborne and then drop the pieces, but this becomes impossible since the pieces are already at their lowest possible vertical positions when they appear. Instead players are required to quickly trundle the pieces along the terrain to get them to their intended locations before they lock down. Similar conditions can be observed in some modern iterations of Tetris such as level 20 of Tetris DS.

Initial Rotation System[edit]

The basic rotation rule of TGM is identical to Sega's Japanese arcade version of Tetris, as most of the rule details of TGM are derived from Sega Tetris. It is unique in that no single center of rotation exists; the J, L, S, T, and Z Tetriminos rotate so that the lowest grid block is always of the same height.

One difference from Sega's Tetris is the existence of rotation compensation, also called "wall kick". This applies a slight nudge to a Tetriminos in some cases where rotating it would bump into a wall. First it will try to move the piece one cell right, and then if that fails, one cell left. If both fail, rotation will not work.

Temporary Landing System[edit]

Carrying over a trait from its spiritual ancestor, Sega's Tetris, the pieces do not lock immediately upon making contact with the placed blocks on the screen (unless Down is held when the Tetromino is in mid-air). Similar, but not identical, behavior can be seen in the later Tetris Worlds series. The pieces can be maneuvered for a half second on the same line it was dropped before it locks (meaning the player can drop the Tetromino one line to restart the lock-down timer). This can be a great strategy for undesirable drops and for fitting Tetrominos strategically in to gaps.


Grades are used to keep a cumulative record of a player's success when playing. During gameplay, the player's current grade and the points required to get the next grade are always shown at the top left of the play field. The grade starts at 9 and eventually decreases to 1, which then changes to S1. Afterwards, the number will increase up to S9 and then to GM, or Grand Master, the highest rank of the game. A player can reach a high score list by reaching a specific grade level in a fast time. The system used on TGM favors speed rather than attempting to survive as long as possible as with most other Tetris games.

Grand Master[edit]

Grand Master is the highest rank in the games, and only six players have achieved it in Tetris: TGM3. The first five were all Japanese. The latest player to reach Grand Master was Tetris speedrunner Kevin Birrell (KevinDDR) who became both the first American and the first non-Japanese to achieve the feat on January 28, 2015, as documented on his Twitch stream.[1][2]


Tetris: The Grand Master[edit]

The original game was released in Japanese arcades in August 1998.

Tetris the Absolute: The Grand Master 2[edit]

This entry was released in 2000, and added additional modes of play. One of these new modes is the Master mode, which extends the classic TGM gameplay with larger speed increases, more requirements to achieve the M or GM grades, and an additional challenge when the M rank is achieved where the player must survive the credits roll with the additional handicap of the Tetriminos turning invisible upon locking. Additional modes include a more casual Normal mode, a Versus mode enhanced with item battles, and a two-player co-op mode.

Tetris the Absolute: The Grand Master 2 Plus added additional modes such as TGM+, which adds rising garbage blocks to the gameplay, and T.A. Death where the game begins at 20G and every other aspect of the game also speeds up steadily.

Tetris: The Grand Master 3 - Terror-Instinct[edit]

The third game was released in 2005 after 5 years of the second game. The game now runs on PC-based hardware, specifically the Taito Type X. The level system has been expanded in many forms with increasingly stricter requirements to reach the Grand Master rank. Modes include Easy, Sakura (a puzzle mode), the traditional Master mode, and Shirase (an extension of T.A. Death with even harsher speed, garbage, and levels beyond 999). It also features World and Classic Rules, which the former was added by Arika due to The Tetris Company's recent policy changes.

The Grand Master 2015[edit]

In mid-2015, Arika began location testing of a new, fourth installment in the franchise in both Japan and the United States, simply titled The Grand Master 2015, dropping the Tetris license.[3] The location test featured Rounds mode, similar to TGM3's Shirase with even harsher speeds and over 1300 levels; and Konoha, which features Tetrominoes twice as big (simulating a 5x10 field), and the objective is to clear the playfield of all pieces as many times as possible.

Cancelled Games[edit]

Tetris: The Grand Master 4 - The Masters of Round[edit]

In September 2009, Tetris: The Grand Master 4 - The Masters of Round was unveiled at Sega's Amusement Machine Show.[4][5] At least three modes of TGM4 have been shown so far: Master mode, Konoha mode (a mode in which all pieces are double size and the object is to completely clear the playing field of blocks as many times as possible), and Rounds mode (similar to T.A. Death and Shirase modes, but with more levels and a fog mechanic that prevents line clears below a particular height until certain conditions are met). TGM4 was supposed to run on the Sega RingWide hardware, however the game has since been cancelled.


External links[edit]