June 15, 2021

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The best launch titles ever: Tetris on Game Boy

This week it seemed appropriate to look back at some of our favourite launch titles ever. And we’re starting with a classic.

One of the weird things about Tetris is that, even if you ignore the incremental additions to the game over the years, like the hold space and hard and soft drops, each version of Tetris really feels different. Different in a way that is hard to pin down, as if each machine is haunted by a different ghost.

Glowing green and letting out a surprising digital raspberry whenever you lose, the Game Boy’s Tetris may be the most characterful – a wilful, often cruel Tetris, and rightly so. After all, this version, bundled with Nintendo’s handheld masterpiece, has probably introduced more people to Alexei Pajitnov’s beautiful game than any other.

Tetris1

It’s the pieces that make it such a delightful jerk. Of all the Tetrises out there, this is the one that seems to know the most when you are saving up for the long brick. It allows you to plan and curate your wall, guarding that special gap, and you build and build and do everything right, and will it give you the long brick? No. It will wait until you’ve put one of the Ls in the wrong place, blocking everything off, and then it will give you two long bricks when you don’t need them anymore.

Argue all you want over whether Tetris is the perfect video game – I still think Lumines has it beat. But it’s the perfect launch title. A game that makes the new hardware both the centre of your universe and something strangely invisible. You hold the Game Boy and forget about it while you learn the ins and outs of this Tetris’ unruly charm.

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