It’s been a long time coming, but Tetris is finally coming to the PlayStation 3 tomorrow, along with new, exclusive multiplayer modes, and the type of shine you can only get with 1080p and 5.1 surround sound.
We tried these multiplayer modes out at an EA event a few weeks back, and I can say with confidence that longtime Tetris fans will enjoy them with like-minded friends. As we were testing out the game, we were informed that Alexey Pajitnov, the original creator of Tetris, was looking on. So of course, I got nervous and started stinking it up…
As someone who had been playing Tetris since it showed up at my elementary school in the mid-80s, a time when entertainment imported from Russia was pretty much unheard of (aside from vodka), I had a number of questions for Mr. Pajitnov:
How did you come up with the idea for Tetris? Were you trying to jam a lot of boxes in your car and had to get creative?
I was just having fun. I really like puzzles and was inspired by a puzzle board game called Pentomino.
Tetris is generally thought to be the “first true puzzle” videogame. What are your favorite games that have come out in this genre you created? What makes a good puzzle game?
I like many puzzle games – Pipe Dream, Parking lot, Doctor Mario, and Shanghai. In my opinion, it’s very important that a good puzzle game has a large number of levels – from very simple to very hard.
I know the game is 25 years old, but I’d like to hear your advice on playing the game, as it seems there are two schools of thought on Tetris. Should you always attempt to keep the playing area as clear as possible, or should you continually try to set it up to clear 4 lines at a time with the stick piece?
The Tetris game allows many strategies – pick the one that fits you best. In my opinion, usually beginners try to keep the field clear, while more experienced players like to somewhat fill up the matrix to set up short combos in advance. “Masters” routinely set up for 4 line-clears, or a “Tetris” line clear, for more points, and “Grandmasters” tend to play for T-spins and long combos.
Tetris has transcended gaming to be a part of popular culture. Pretty much everyone’s played it, and so there’s a reference that anyone can get (like a vignette from a 2003 episode of The Simpsons). What’s that been like? Where’s the most interesting place you’ve seen Tetris appear?
I was very amazed to see the game played on the side of a skyscraper, using the lights and windows of the building to create falling Tetriminos. That happened at Delft University of Technology where engineering students played the world’s largest working Tetris game along the side of their building. I didn’t see it live, but the videos online are very fun!
Why do you think Tetris has stayed fresh after 25 years? People can still pick it up and play it (and they do).
Why not? Technology has drastically changed in the last 25 years, but not the human brain. I think all good games from the past can become popular again, but in order to do so, they’ll need to be re-introduced properly and kept relevant to current pop culture and technologies. We’ve always done a great job of developing the Tetris game for cutting-edge platforms, like the PlayStation 3 with surround sound and high-definition graphics.
You haven’t just been sitting on the achievement that is Tetris. What have you been doing since the game released?
I worked as a game designer for many years with companies like Spectrum Holobyte, Nintendo, and Microsoft. I also published several titles such as El-Fish, Pandora’s Box, and Hexic.
Finally, why should people pick up Tetris on PlayStation Network?
To have fun! What can be the other reason?
Tetris arrives on PSN tomorrow for $9.99.