author_name|James Trew language|en-US provider_name|Engadget region|US site|engadget Sports & Recreation Video Games

How is Gen Z pushing the boundaries of NES Tetris?

Image Credit: Greyj/Getty Images (modified)

“Classic Tetris” usually refers to the NES port of the game. The gold standard is considered the original and is the version played in CTWC tournaments. That means original NES consoles, controllers, and big old CRT TVs. “A lot of people make fun of us in the comments. Can’t afford to buy a new TV?” Cornelius told Engadget.

This not only ensures originality, but also creates an even playing field. Other competitions like Classic Tetris Monthly are more comfortable with which hardware/emulation? you can play with, but the CTWC and any world records will usually be played on the original Nintendo consoles. There is a small concession (usually done with Game Genie) that allows for a special version of the game modified to allow for higher scores, and you’ll understand why later.

Saelee’s victory in the 2018 CTWC finals may have taken everyone by surprise, but it didn’t happen in a vacuum. Interest in the game has been growing steadily since the tournament’s opening event in 2010, and it was also the subject of a documentary: Ecstasy of Order: Masters of Tetris (directed by Cornelius). The film followed a group of top actors towards the culmination of the first CTWC event. Winning? Jonas Neubauer.

The CTWC soon found a home at the Portland Retro Gaming Expo and has grown in size every year. In 2016, another newcomer found his way to the final against Neubauer, who was vying for his 6th title. That actor, Jeff Moore, was living the hustle and bustle of his life. repeated Tetrises scoring astonishing commentators. They squeaked every time “Boom, Tetris for Jeff” swiped a long bar from the right side of the screen.

“Reviewers were so excited about this new dark horse candidate Jeff, they said, ‘Boom, Tetris for Jeff,’ maybe a little too much. And people stumbled upon the video. [on YouTube]said Cornelius. interruptions made and t-shirts printed. “Boom, Tetris for Jeff” was just the right kind of silliness in the right kind of venue (YouTube) to engage young eyes and spark a growing appetite for competitive classic Tetris videos.

“There are so many more young players coming into play, especially since Joseph Saelee won the world title, because he blew up the scene a little bit in terms of juniors and stuff.” Christopher “Cheez” Martinez told Engadget.

Cheez, as he is known in the Tetris community, is one of those youngsters. He found the game with Saelee’s world championship winning video followed by another piece of advice. Tetris Effect. At 16, he discovers a game that is twice his age. Like many other new young players, his development is very fast.

Tetrominos from the game Tetris colored with the NES color palette

Greyj/Getty Images (modified)

Before competitions like the CTWC, there were two white whales for elite classic Tetris players. The main one was “maxout”. The NES version of the game only has a six-digit scoreboard, meaning 999,999 is the highest score to be achieved, but it was difficult to achieve, especially due to the second difficult objective: beating level 29 (also known as the “kill screen”).

As anyone who has played any version of Tetris will know, one of the main dynamics is that you clear the lines to move on to the next level, because as you do so the blocks drop faster than the previous level. In NES Tetris, level 29 is the level that was considered impossible to beat when the game reached its maximum speed and DAS was the only playstyle. This meant that if you were playing for a maxout, you had to get there before level 29.

has been maxed out officially It was first succeeded by Harry Hong in 2009, but it’s widely accepted that another old-school actor, Thor Aackerlund, has accomplished it before, but long before videophones, YouTube, and social media. Aackerlund also claimed to have Reached level 30 (albeit briefly) but the myth about the success meant that it would be many years before the kill screen was actually considered to be beaten.

After Hong’s maxout in 2009, a slew of players slowly started hitting the target each year. Until 2019, at what point the number accelerates exponentially.. “It took me a year, I’ve progressed quite slowly compared to many players right now. People max out in four or five months. That’s kind of ridiculous.” said Cheez. He achieved his first maxout in 2019, becoming the 65th player to do so. Today about 400 people have reached the magic million points..

To pass the 29th level “kill screen”. This was considered, at one point, nearly impossible. It’s a hard wall that cannot be crossed due to the design of the game. DAS can’t move pieces to either side fast enough, meaning when the “stack” goes above a certain height, the math kicks in and failure is guaranteed. Despite getting a glimpse of level 30 by Aackerlund, the killscreen’s reign of terror really ended when Saelee reached a verified level. level 33 just months after winning his first world title.

Still, despite the fact that the two main goals of high-level Tetris are no longer unattainable, these achievements seem almost outlandish by today’s standards. As DAS gave way to hyper-hits, what was once impossible soon became a rite of passage for elite players. However, now that the limit for the kill screen has been removed, the theoretical point limit has been removed as well. level 29 probably it happened it was meant to be the last level (the level counter will break when you reach 30 and the speed won’t increase no matter what level you reach) hypertaping perhaps wasn’t fast enough to allow players to progress much further.

Cheez had other ideas.

An animated Tetromino GIF

Greyj/Getty Images (modified)

While he may have made a name for himself as a hyper-hitting player, Cheez has finally found video of someone using a technique that doubles inputs with a single press. “They’d put their thumbs down and hit their other thumbs up and down, and you’d get two inputs in pretty much the same motion. So I got some inspiration from that in late 2020. And it’s been a thing to roll.”

“Rolling” is a strange technique to watch. Most players rest the controller on their thigh or knee, most wear a single glove and then “strum” the controller from below With a thumb on the D-pad. But if you get there, you can move pieces left and right even faster than hyper-kick. It’s such an effective technique that some fans think it’s cheating, Cornelius said. It’s perfectly legal in the eyes of CTWCs, as it’s made with unmodified NES hardware and your hands.

Rolling is so effective that it allows players to eliminate the current limits of the game. Remember how Saelee reached the first level 33 in 2019? Well, when I interviewed Cheez for this story, the highest was level 63 – kill the screen and then some. When I clicked Publish, that record was again dazzlingly broken. level 95 Now the goal is to beat.

This rapid progression isn’t just about new world records, it’s also strategically changing how the game is played. and physically. Competitive classic Tetris is all about score. It doesn’t matter the number of lines or how many Tetris you do, only who scores the most points in the top three games.

In the old world, the hard limit of the kill screen forced players to focus on efficient gameplay and win as many Tetris as possible before level 29. In the rolling age, professionals train. Beginning At level 29. That’s where Game Genie comes in as the original version of the game couldn’t go above 999,999 and you’ll definitely need it once you reach this level. If you improve your skills as fast as possible, this will be the new normal and you can theoretically play indefinitely. This is how we can get from the impossible kill screen to level 95. But it also presents some challenges for burgeoning esports, of which Cornelius is all too aware.

“I predict that maybe this year, maybe five years from now, but very soon, everyone will always reach level 28. And they will always reach level 50. And they will get another million points.. And it’s really just going to be… who gets startled first “Who messes up first is the only thing that really matters,” he said.

This is already happening, at least in the record period. Shortly before being interviewed by Cheez, he set a world record for the highest score: 2.3 million coincidentally level 61 and a total of 551 lines cleared – both new world records at the time. All of which have since been beaten, and by significant margins. The game is currently in a phase where players are looking for more niche or specific goals and records to break – such as the highest score achieved with a start at level 29 – because these are areas of the game that are not yet fully unlocked.

In early 2021, something unexpected shook the Tetris community. On January 5, at the age of 39, Neubauer fainted and died from a sudden cardiac arrhythmia of unknown cause. The game’s most iconic character, and with it the reigning champion DAS player, was gone. “Jonas’ death is a big part of the story and he was my friend,” Cornelius said. “Frankly, nothing compares to loss in general. But for the Tetris scene, it was really cool to have someone from the old guard who could really hang out with all the kids.

Despite the renewed interest in the game from a much younger generation, Tetris is still a bit of an extreme esport. You’ll find highlights on ESPN and it’s obviously growing in popularity, but prize pools remain modest compared to more popular games like the ones below. Counter Strike or League of Legends.

“Currently the highest paying tournament is CTWC. And the first prize is $3,000. so no Fortnite but still a good amount of money.” said Cheez. He was diplomatic when I asked him if he was considering doing the job full time if there was an option. “Honestly, it’s hard to predict the future of the scene, but if the money is good, I might try to make it a business at some point, but I don’t know how stable it will be.”

Cornelius is a little more optimistic about where the future might lead. “You know, when you watch an Olympic sport, you’re not watching to see one doubling the others, you see people win by these tiny, tiny, tiny margins that are almost imperceptible,” he said. “I think that’s where Tetris is going, where players will converge on a point where they all play exactly the same. And there’s only one ideal way to play, and we’re witnessing that they’re just trying to add, just push it a little further each year. ”

Cheez advanced to April’s semi-finals. Classic Tetris Monthly After finishing 21st at last year’s event, he will want to beat the 2020 top seven at the CTWC. One thing is for sure, whoever wins will most likely be a roller, so Cheez’s mark in the tournament and the game in general will not be erased.

Thanks to the pandemic, the CTWC had to take the contest online. This year’s plans are yet to be confirmed, but the hope is to return to an in-person event if possible. Current world champion Michael “Dog” Artiaga will return to defend his title. He won again in 2019 after Saelee’s 2018 victory. He took the title of Dog over the next two years and there are plenty of players ready to take the crown. The dog is considered the one to beat, especially after recording a high score of 2.2 Million. Starting at level 29. Because today’s Tetris picks up where the old game left off.

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