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Box artwork for Tetris (Game Boy).
Tetris (Game Boy)
Developer(s)Nintendo
Publisher(s)Nintendo
Year released1989
System(s)Game Boy
SeriesTetris
Genre(s)Puzzle
ModesSingle player, Multiplayer
TwitchTetris (Game Boy) Channel
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Tetris (Russian: Те́трис, pronounced [ˈtɛtrʲɪs]) is a Russian tile-matching puzzle game, originally designed and programmed by Alexey Pajitnov. The Game Boy version was developed and published by Nintendo, who purchased the license from Elorg, through the help of Henk Rogers of Bullet-Proof Software.

It was bundled with the North American and European releases of the Game Boy itself. Because of this, many players of the Game Boy generation remain familiar with this title, as it probably sold more than any other Tetris title so far. Having Tetris packaged with the Game Boy was most likely the cause of the Game Boy's success. It is the first game to have been compatible with the Game Link Cable, a pack-in accessory that allows two Game Boy consoles to link for multiplayer purposes.

Game modes[edit]

  • A-Type: Endless, choice of starting level (0 through 9), clear 10 lines to advance to the next level.
  • B-Type: Clear 25 lines, choice of starting level (0 through 9), and choice of starting garbage height (0 through 5 where each number is 2 more lines of garbage).

Other options[edit]

  • Music: Three choices of music can be selected before each game, or the game can be played with sound effects only.
    • "A-TYPE" is based on the Russian folk song "Korobeiniki" (also known as "Korobushka").
    • "B-TYPE" is original work by Nintendo's accomplished composer Hirokazu Tanaka.
    • "C-TYPE" is an arranged version of "French Suite No. 3 in B minor, BWV 814: Menuet"
  • Toggle Next piece: To hide or show the display of the Next piece, press Select button.
  • Harder levels: To start a game from levels 10 through 19, highlight a level from 0 through 9, press and hold Down dpad, and press Start button to begin a game at a level ten higher than the one you highlighted.

Victory screen conditions[edit]

A-Type
A missile launch is shown when the player surpasses a certain score.
  • 100,000 to 149,999 points: small missile
  • 150,000 to 199,999 points: medium-sized missile
  • 200,000 or more points: big missile
B-Type
A screen with Russian musicians and dancers is shown when completing 25 lines on level 9. The number of dancers increase with the initial height level. When completing level 9 at height 5, a shuttle* launch is shown immediately following the end of the song that the dancers are dancing to.

* Contrary to popular belief, it is not the United States Space Shuttle which lifts off in the best ending, but rather the Buran, Russia's equivalent of the Space Shuttle.

2 Player mode[edit]

Tetris GB vs screen.png

Multiplayer features only two players, and pits Mario against Luigi as they stack Tetriminos on separate fields. Each player plays with a separate Game Boy and Tetris Game Pak, with the two consoles connected via the Game Link Cable. Before starting each player can configure their starting height.

When a player scores a Double, Triple, or Tetris, incomplete rows of blocks are added to the bottom of the opponent's stack, causing it to rise. Garbage is single aligned hole (same for both players) and based on a system that sends 1 line on a double, 2 lines on a triple and 4 lines on a Tetris.

Both players have the same piece sequence, same starting garbage and same garbage hole. While neither player can see the opponent's playfield, a column on the left side of the screen indicates the height of the highest piece in the opponent's well. While this doesn't indicate that a piece at the top indicates defeat, it does give each player a general sense of how they are doing by comparison.

Play continues until either one player runs out of space or one player clears at least thirty lines, at which point Mario and Luigi are seen celebrating or moping. The games then begin anew, with a cleared screen. First to 4 rounds wins the match.

Technical Details[edit]

Tetris GB game.png

The rotation system is a left-handed Nintendo Rotation System. Lock delay, wall kick, and hard drop are not present.

It was intended that the randomizer reduces the chances of getting one and the same piece shape 3 times in a row. However, the randomizer works differently in practice. Pieces are numerated from 0 to 6, repectively from 000 to 110 in binary notation. The code uses a bitwise OR operation. This is an operation that takes 2 binary numbers to compute a new binary number. The result has a 1 at a certain digit if at least one of the 2 arguments has a 1 at the same digit. For example 1100 OR 1010 = 1110. The following happens:

Choose a random piece shape. Hand it out as next preview piece if the bitwise OR of the locking piece, the current preview piece, and the chosen piece differs from the locking piece. Otherwise ( locking OR preview OR chosen = locking ), choose another piece (can be the same as before). Accept it as the next preview piece if the condition is fulfilled this time. Otherwise, choose another piece and use it as the next preview piece (no matter if the condition is fulfilled or not).

Piece shapes containing many zeros in the bitwise notation are rejected more often. Let's say our preview piece is a L (000). Then, another L will be rejected in the condition no matter of the locking piece (XXX OR 000 OR 000 = XXX ). So the chance of getting 2 L pieces in a row is reduced significantly. As a result, piece shapes containing many zeros appear less frequent. The relative frequencies should be as follows:

  • L: 10.7 %
  • J, I, Z: 13.7 %
  • O, S, T: 16.1 %

Henk Rogers takes responsibility for this randomizer.

Version 1.0[edit]

Version 1.0 was only released in Japan as part of a Special Link Bundle, and is estimated to have sold around 25,000 copies. Version 1.1, used for the rest of the Japanese print run and released internationally, contains the more widely-recognized A-TYPE music and is overall a slightly more polished game.

  • It features the song "Minuet", while version 1.1 features "Korobeniki". The level up sound is less conspicuous.
  • In A-TYPE, the player needs 50,000 less points for the rocket starts (50,000 points for small missile, 100,000 for medium, 150,000 for big).
  • Level progression differs: From level 0 to 8, a player has to clear 10 lines to reach the next level. From level 9 to 20, it's 20 lines to the next level. This is independent from the start level: When starting on level 9, it's only 20 lines to level 10, but 220 lines to level 20. When starting on level 0, it's 90 lines to level 9, 110 lines to level 10 and 310 lines to level 20.
  • Inputs during line clears are not ignored. This allows to charge Delayed Auto Shift for the next Tetromino. Using the rotation buttons will have no effect besides creating a sound. Such a sound will silence the remaining part of the line clear sound.

Because of the later 2 points, it's easier to get a higher score in this specific version. It's theoretically possible to score 999,999 points before reaching level 20.