I’d spare you the ‘wanna feel old?’ but you probably will anyway: Tetris turns 35 today.
Tetris is a deceptively simple game in which you rotate blocks made up of four squares each arranged in different configurations as they fall, trying to arrange them in a rectangular play area in such a way that you create full rows, which then eliminates the rows from the field of play. I’ve never before had to describe Tetris but I feel like I did ok.
I also learned a new thing in researching this anniversary – the name ‘Tetris’ was conceived by the game’s creator Alexey Pajitnov based on the combination of the Greek tetra (a prefix for ‘four’) and the word tennis (the sport with rackets and the net and the fuzzy neon yellow balls). I really don’t see the tennis inspiration, personally – maybe he blanked for a second and thought he was inventing Pong.
For Tetris fans of a certain vintage, the music below is fully baked into your brain meat in an indelible way. And yet the game manages to find ways to remain fresh and relevant – as with Tetris 99, the modern incarnation that even includes a ‘battle royale’ style multiplayer mechanic inspired by Fortnite and its ilk.
The storied lifetime of Tetris even includes a Hollywood treatment – plans for not only a movie, but a whole trilogy were announced in 2016, helmed by the filmmaker who brought us the venerable 1995 Mortal Kombat film. We haven’t heard much about its progress or continued development since, but it’s also not officially killed, so we could still experience this guaranteed cinematic masterpiece in our lifetimes.
To celebrate, I’m going to dig through my storage locker for my original, still functional Game Boy and Tetris cartridge and clear some lines. But don’t spend too much time on Tetris today – lest you develop the syndrome that borrows its name.