The famous Tetris, created by Russian programmer Alexei Pazhitnov in
the mid 1980's and since ported to just about every platform out
there. It is perhaps best known in its Game Boy incarnation,
which was instrumental in rocketing the handheld to the extreme
popularity it holds to this day.
Two versions of Tetris were made for the NES; one by Nintendo, and the
other by Tengen, a company that had created several unlicensed NES
titles, including the RBI Baseball series and Ms. Pac Man.
However, due to a comedy
of attempted thefts and rights being sold by those who didn't legally
own them, a court battle between Nintendo and Tengen ensued,
with Nintendo coming out the victor. As a result, Tengen's
version of Tetris quickly faded from the
The premise of Tetris is simple. You need only to lay down blocks
in a way that causes them to complete a full row on the screen.
When that happens, the row disappears and you earn points. If you
managed to clear two, three, or four rows at a time, you get bonus
points for your Double, Triple, or Tetris. However, if at any
point the stack of blocks reaches the top of the screen, the game
ends. The core gameplay of Tetris remains the same throughout all
versions of the game, but Tengen's version featured a few ideas not
seen in most versions.
First, and most notable, is the two-player mode, a major feature
omitted from Nintendo's NES version (though it was a major selling
the Game Boy game). This would pit one player against
another. Every time a player was the first to clear 30 lines, a
small sequence would play where the points for Singles, Doubles,
Triples and Tetrises would be tallied and added to the player's
score. This mode continued until both players' screens were
filled to the top, at which point the winner would be the player with
the highest score. Just to ensure a fair match, both players
would receive the same blocks in the same order. The 'Versus
Computer' option was identical, save for the fact that the computer
would play on the other field.
The computer doesn't make for a very
impressive opponent, though
More impressive, however, is the Cooperative mode, where both players
(or the computer and one player) play on one field, each controlling a
seperate piece at once. A fair amount of work was required of
both players to prevent their strategies from clashing; with two pieces
falling at once, one player could only move their block within the
range that the other player's block allowed, and situations where two
blocks could fit into the same place are very common. Another
definite plus over Nintendo's Tetris.
An estimated 100,000 copies of Tengen's Tetris were sold. While
well below par for the average NES game, it's still far from impossible
to find this title. It
is commonly passed back and forth on eBay and similar sites, with
prices ranging anywhere from $20-40 for just the cartridge, to $70 or
more for a complete boxed copy.
One-line synopsis: Regardless of form, Tetris
is a solid game, and Tengen's Tetris is easily the better of the two on