Tetris (Game Boy)

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North American box art
Developer(s) Bullet-Proof Software
Publisher(s) Nintendo
Composer(s) Hirokazu Tanaka
Platform(s) Game Boy, Game Boy Color
Release date(s) Game Boy Game Boy Color
Genre(s) Puzzle
Mode(s) Single-player

Tetris (テトリス Tetorisu?) is a puzzle video game for the Game Boy released in 1989. It is a portable version of Alexey Pajitnov's Tetris and it was bundled in the North American and European releases of the Game Boy itself. It was the first game compatible with the Game Link Cable, a pack-in accessory that allowed two Game Boys to link together for multiplayer purposes. A colorized remake of the game was released on the Game Boy Color entitled Tetris DX (テトリス デラックス Tetorisu Derakkusu?). A Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console version of Tetris was released in December 2011, and lacks the multiplayer functionality. It was delisted from the Nintendo eShop after December 31, 2014.


Tetris gameplay
Naïve gravity in action.

The Game Boy version of Tetris plays identically to versions of Tetris released on other platforms. A pseudorandom sequence of "tetrominos" – shapes composed of four square blocks each – fall down the playing field. The object of the game is to manipulate these tetrads, by moving each one sideways and rotating it by 90-degree units, with the aim of creating a horizontal line of blocks without gaps. When one or more such lines are created, they disappear, and the blocks above (if any) move down by the number of lines cleared. As in most standard versions of Tetris, blocks do not automatically fall into open gaps when lines are cleared.

As the game progresses, the tetrominos fall faster. The game ends when at least part of a tetromino extends beyond the top of the playfield when set in place. The player can normally see which block will appear next in a window off to the side of the playing field, but this feature can be toggled during the game.[5] Points are awarded based on the current level and number of lines cleared. The level increases each time the player clears ten lines, as does the speed of falling tetrominoes.[5] The player may adjust the difficulty before beginning a game by selecting a starting level and/or choosing to pre-fill the play area with a given number of lines of randomly placed blocks. The game ends when the stack of blocks extends past the top of the playfield.

This version of Tetris includes a two-player mode, in which each player's objective is to remain in play for longer than his or her opponent. Each player plays on their own Game Boy, with the two consoles connected via the Game Link Cable (A game pak for each player). During gameplay, when a player scores a Double, Triple or Tetris, one or more incomplete rows of blocks are added to the bottom of their opponent's stack, causing it to rise.


In 1984, Soviet Academy of Sciences researchers Alexey Pajitnov, Dmitry Pavlovsky, and Vadim Gerasimov created Tetris out of a desire to create a two-player puzzle game,[6] and the game spread commercially among computers. In 1988, computer game publisher Henk Rogers noticed the game at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in a Spectrum HoloByte booth. Finding himself hooked to the game, he pursued the rights for the game, and knowing Nintendo planned to release the Game Boy approached Nintendo of America head Minoru Arakawa with the suggestion that Tetris was the perfect title to be packaged with the handheld. Arakawa questioned the idea, noting they planned to package Super Mario Land with it instead, but Rogers countered by stating that while a Mario title would sell the Game Boy to young boys, Tetris would sell it to everyone.[7] Rogers was told to pursue the rights, and secured them from both Spectrum HoloByte and Atari-spinoff company Tengen, who had also secured a license at the time, to license Tetris in Japan. He additionally approached Robert Stein, who had secured permission for both companies to distribute Tetris through company Mirrorsoft, to seek rights for it to be distributed with the Game Boy.[8]

However, after several months passed Stein had not produced the rights for the Game Boy, and Rogers learned that another person had approached Nintendo with the idea of a Game Boy Tetris. Requesting more time from Arakawa, he traveled to Moscow to speak with the USSR's Ministry of Software and Hardware Export and Pajitnov. During this time, Nintendo approached Spectrum HoloByte on the prospect of a Game Boy Tetris, causing Mirrorsoft to send a representative, Kevin Maxwell, to Moscow to secure rights for the Game Boy version.[8] Meanwhile, Rogers negotiated for the rights for Tetris on the Game Boy, noting in a later interview with IGN that the government officials did not understand the concept of intellectual property, and were looking for greater payment than Rogers or Nintendo could afford.[7] However it was revealed that the Tetris property had not actually been licensed to anyone: Stein had secured the rights from Pajitnov directly and not from the Russian authorities.[9] Russia sent a fax to Maxwell in England with 48 hours to respond, but due to being in Russia at the time Maxwell did not receive the fax, and the rights were given to Rogers. Nintendo granted Rogers publishing rights to Tetris, sued Tengen, and in March 1989, Rogers, Arakawa, and Nintendo vice president Howard Lincoln signed a contract securing rights for console and handheld distribution of Tetris.[8] However, Tetris's production was delayed due to the ongoing legal battle with Tengen, and the game was released in Japan two months after the Game Boy's release there.[10] The title was co-developed by Bullet-Proof Software and Nintendo.[11]


The music for Tetris was created by Hirokazu Tanaka.[12] The player can select one of three types of background music during the game or play with sound effects only. Some of the songs are arrangements of works from other composers: "Type A" is based on the Russian folk song Korobeiniki (also known as Korobushka), and "Type C" is an arranged version of French Suite No. 3 in B minor, BWV 814: Menuet by Johann Sebastian Bach.[13][14]

After a player exits pause mode (toggled using the start button), the background music continues with the volume of the bassline increased, which returns to normal when the next phrase of the song begins. Nintendo has offered no explanation for this anomaly, nor has any programming error isolated by a third party (e.g., via a ROM hack) gained widespread public recognition.

The compositions "Type A" and "Type B" can be unlocked for use on the Luigi's Mansion stage in Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii. The compositions can once again be unlocked for use in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. "Type A" can be unlocked for the Smash Run mode in the Nintendo 3DS version and for use on the Luigi's Mansion stage in the Wii U version, while "Type B" can be unlocked for use on the Wuhu Island stage in the Wii U version only.


Tetris DX[edit]

Tetris DX is a Game Boy Color game that is backwards compatible with the original Game Boy. It was developed by Nintendo and released in Japan on October 21, 1998, in North America on November 18, 1998 and in Europe and Australia in 1999. Tetris DX features battery-saved high scores and three player profiles. It has a new single-player mode against the CPU, and also features two new modes of play. In "Ultra Mode," players must accumulate as many points as possible within a three-minute time period. In "40 Lines," players are timed on how quickly they can clear 40 lines of play. In addition, new music themes were added as well.

Virtual Console[edit]

The Game Boy version of Tetris was released as a Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console title on December 22, 2011 in North America and Europe,[15][16] and on December 28 in Japan.[17] In contrast to the original version, it is not possible to play multiplayer in the Virtual Console version.[18] The Virtual Console version of Tetris was delisted from the Nintendo eShop after December 31, 2014 in Europe.[19] It was also was delisted from the eShop in North America.[20]


Alexey Pajitnov, the designer of the original Tetris, called the Game Boy version his favorite.

As of June 2009, the Game Boy version of Tetris has sold over 35 million copies.[21] Official Nintendo Magazine ranked Tetris fifth on their list of the "100 Best Nintendo Games".[22] Game Informer‍ '​s Ben Reeves called it the best Game Boy game and a "legendary puzzle game".[23]

In August 2008, Nintendo Power listed Tetris DX as the best Game Boy/Game Boy Color video game, stating that it meant more to handheld gaming than any other video game. They also described it as the best version of Tetris until Tetris DS was released.[24] In an interview with IGN, Alexey Pajitnov noted the Game Boy version of Tetris as his favorite, describing it as very close to his original version.[7]


  1. ^ a b ゲームボーイ (in Japanese). Nintendo. Archived from the original on April 5, 2015. Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  2. ^ テトリス(TETRIS) [ゲームボーイ]. Famitsu (in Japanese). Kadokawa Corporation. Archived from the original on November 22, 2015. Retrieved November 22, 2015. 
  3. ^ White, Dave (July 1989). "Gameboy Club". Electronic Gaming Monthly (3): 68. 
  4. ^ テトリスDX [ゲームボーイ]. Famitsu (in Japanese). Kadokawa Corporation. Archived from the original on November 22, 2015. Retrieved November 22, 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "'Tetris'". NinDB. Retrieved March 14, 2008.  External link in |work= (help)
  6. ^ Gerasimov, Vadim. "Original Tetris: Story and Download". vadim.oversigma.com. Retrieved June 10, 2007. 
  7. ^ a b c Staff (June 13, 2009). "Alexey Pajitnov Stars Interview – Video Interview: Alexey Pajitnov Pt. 1". IGN. Retrieved June 13, 2009. 
  8. ^ a b c DeMaria, Rusel; Wilson, Johnny L. (2003). High Score! The Illustrated History of Electronic Video Games (2 ed.). McGraw-Hill Professional. ISBN 0-07-223172-6. 
  9. ^ Evans, David Sparks; Hagiu, Andrei; Schmalensee, Richard (2006). Invisible Engines: How Software Platforms Drive Innovation and Transform Industries (Illustrated ed.). MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-05085-4. 
  10. ^ Sheff, David; Eddy, Andy (1993). Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered the World. Random House, Inc. (New York). ISBN 0-679-40469-4. 
  11. ^ Bullet-Proof Software, Inc., Nintendo Co., Ltd. (August 1989). Tetris. Nintendo of America, Inc. Scene: startup screen. 
  12. ^ "Works". Sporadic Vacuum. Hirokazu Tanaka. Archived from the original on December 8, 2010. Retrieved December 8, 2010. 
  13. ^ Brent DiCrescenzo (November 13–19, 2008). "Ode to joysticks". Time Out Chicago: Opera & Classical. Time Out Chicago. Retrieved December 20, 2010. 
  14. ^ Chris Greening. "Hirokazu Tanaka Biography". Square Enix Music Online. Retrieved December 20, 2010. 
  15. ^ Ronaghan, Neal (December 22, 2011). "Nintendo Download - December 22, 2011". Nintendo World Report. Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved November 17, 2015. 
  16. ^ Newton, James (December 22, 2011). "Nintendo Download: 22nd December 2011 (Europe)". Nintendo Life. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved November 17, 2015. 
  17. ^ Bivens, Danny (December 23, 2011). "Tetris and New Picross Coming to Japan eShop". Nintendo World Report. Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved November 17, 2015. 
  18. ^ Thomas, Lucas M. (December 22, 2011). "Tetris Review". IGN. Ziff Davis. Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved November 17, 2015. 
  19. ^ Whitehead, Thomas (November 28, 2014). "Two Tetris Downloads to be Removed from the 3DS eShop in Europe". Nintendo Life. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved November 17, 2015. 
  20. ^ Whitehead, Thomas (January 2, 2015). "Two Tetris Titles Pulled From the 3DS eShop in North America". Nintendo Life. Gamer Network. Archived from the original on November 17, 2015. Retrieved November 17, 2015. 
  21. ^ Saltzman, Marc (June 12, 2009). "'Tetris' by the numbers". USA Today. Retrieved June 13, 2009. 
  22. ^ East, Tom (March 2, 2009). "Feature: 100 Best Nintendo Games". Official Nintendo Magazine. Retrieved March 18, 2009. 
  23. ^ Reeves, Ben (June 24, 2011). "The 25 Best Game Boy Games Of All Time". Game Informer. Retrieved December 6, 2013. 
  24. ^ "Nintendo Power – The 20th Anniversary Issue!". Nintendo Power 231 (231). San Francisco, California: Future US. August 2008. p. 72. 

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