for Game Boy
Also available for: PC (DOS)

NetDanzr:Herr M.:Overall:
Popular Vote:
Company: Nintendo
Year: 1989
Genre: Strategy
Theme: Abstract / Multiplayer
Language: English
Licence: Commercial
Views: 44693
Review by Herr M. (2014-02-15)
=Game Boy

If there is one game that has been played by almost anyone that got close to any kind of computer, it has to be Tetris. It is everywhere: From key-chains, over mobile phones, TV set-top boxes and pocket calculators to high end PCs. Think of any platform and you can be sure this game runs on it.[1] If there ever are refrigerators with Internet connections, you will certainly be able to stack some blocks while checking your milk re-order. Tetris is one of those rare games that have outgrown copyright struggles and has become a commonly shared idea, which massively contributed to its success. Still, under this myriad of clones and copies, there are some versions many people consider the definite version. Like Spectrum Holobyte's Tetris – which often is (wrongly) thought of as the first – and the probably most famous one, which we are going to talk about today: Tetris for Game Boy.

This Tetris was the console's launch title, whose cartridge came with every new Game Boy. Picking such an easily accessible game with such a broad appeal was a great idea. Proper programming and putting in just the right amount of extra features made it even greater. You also should not underestimate the fact that Tetris lends tremendously well to hand-held devices and this was one of the first chances to witness this perfect match. But the game's appeal does not only lie in the past, for it has aged really well. You might even say that is still one of the best Tetris releases out there. And here are some of the reasons why.

Each piece has its unique design

Let us start with the one thing that undeservedly might put off most of the people: the graphics. Yes, they are black and white (or actually more brown and green) and grainy, but considering these limitations, the game does an excellent job at making the pieces distinguishable. You do not have to see the actual shape, you can instantly tell them apart by their different patterns (e.g. solid grey for L bricks, the button like appearance of the |- bricks) as soon as you see one single block. There are more colour full versions of Tetris out there which miserably fail at that.

And there is another thing this Tetris for Game Boy has over those other ports, namely one of its most famous features. Just take a moment and try to guess about which melody we are going to talk about now. It is the one song you always hear when Tetris shows up in popular culture[2], the one song so much ingrained into our ears that almost everyone will instantly connect it with falling bricks, yet almost no-one will be able to tell you its actual name. It was not always the 'Tetris theme', but originally it was the 'Korobeiniki', and it is a real Russian folk song. Anyway, it is incredibly catchy and the classic beeps of the Game Boy make it even more charming than it already is. As for the other songs: They are not bad either, but not as memorable. Maybe with the exception of the winning song for Game B.

Speaking of which, the main innovation of this particular Tetris is a mode (said Game B) in which you have to clear a level from a certain amount of lines in order to win, instead of stacking until the inevitable defeat. You can also set a starting height, up to which the game field is randomly filled with blocks and gaps. This is quite an interesting twist which makes for a slightly different challenge. Suddenly you stop caring about those long bricks and getting a Tetris (i.e. clearing four lines at once), but just want to get some breathing space as fast as possible.

Ahh, the sweet taste of success!

Plus, on finishing the highest level, there is a short animation as a reward, which gets longer, and slightly more complex, the higher you set the starting height of the lines. Something similar happens in Game A (the traditional mode) when you reach specific scores. Besides being a nice motivation, it is good to know that the developer cared enough about their game that they not solely relied on the tried and tested gameplay.

As for said gameplay[3], let us take a look at the main features of this particular implementation: You cannot move the pieces to the side of the screen at an instant, but they move stepwise instead. Therefore it gets rather hard to correctly place them at higher levels, because their vertical movement becomes faster than the horizontal one. You can rotate the bricks clockwise and counterclockwise, which comes in handy when you have to react really fast. And the stones do not just drop straight to the ground as soon as you press down, but they accelerate and return to normal speed as soon as you release the D-Pad.

Why does Mario always have to come first?

Finally, there is one thing that was unique back then and is still very rare in newer versions: the multiplayer mode. You can link up two Game Boys and play against a friend. The really fun (and actual multiplayer) part about this one is that whenever you clear some lines they start to fill up the bottom of your opponent's screen. Just imagine the horror of hearing the cheery Tetris sound, when it does not come from your Game Boy, knowing that it will not be long until you will have to deal with four extra lines… yet, since the new lines always have one single long gap you can pay your opponent back really fast. The typical mulitplayer session consists of sending those lines back and forth as fast as possible. This results in a surprisingly dynamic interplay in which feelings tend to run high.

Overall I think it is safe to say, that if you like stacking some good old boxes, you cannot go wrong with this Game Boy version. It plays fluently, makes excellent use of its system and has a very catchy sound track. Out of the million variations out there, this is one of the most outstanding ones.

[1]Currently, it holds the Guiness World Record for 'Most ported computer game'.

[2]I even came across some jokes about it. One of which goes something like this: Nine out of ten voices in my head tell me, that I am not insane, and the tenth keeps on singing the melody of Tetris.

[3]If you never ever head of Tetris before, or if you just can not remember how it works right now, I recommend to take a look at Elwood's review here on our site. He does an excellent job of summing up the story.

Archived Review(s) ↓

Review by NetDanzr (2002-07-12)
Avatar Review moved to the archive. This entry remains for reference.
Review by Anonymous (2014-09-05)

This is for the Gameboy version which is the version I have played as a kid. Well where do we begin.

First off, Tetris is perhaps one of the best games I've ever played that involved blocks. Not just because of how simple it is, but because it was an idea pulled off well. If you hadn't played or heard of Tetris, then I'm guessing you must had been living under a thick rock for all of these years :P (Anyone who owned a Gameboy or had a NES probably might remember this game.)


You have blocks falling down and different block types also and you have to get the blocks to fill up an entire part from left to right to clear it all. If you let the blocks stack up too much to the top, you will lose. The higher the block stack is when you fill up an entire spot from left to right, the more points you will earn. It's very fun and it is challenging and I actually spent so many hours playing it. It's that good and you will get addicted to it. I guarantee it.


The sound effects are pretty good, but the musical score of the Game Boy version is pure awesome. Perhaps the best song in the entire game would have to be for when you're in the high score screen because of how happy it sounds and how its composed.


In the end, Tetris is perhaps the best game ever made for the Gameboy. No scratch that, Tetris is perhaps the best game ever made period for any platform. If you find a copy of Tetris for any platform, grab it and give it a shot. You wont regret it. In fact, I'm sure you probably might already have it for the Gameboy if you had one.

Comments (5) [Post comment]


Tetris has got to be the greatest game ever.
I grew up playing the Original Xbox and Gamboy Advanced versions. Its so simple, yet so perfect.

Eric Goldsworth:

I love playing tetris because its so much fun.The blocks start off slow as you keep playing they also come down very fast.I usally start off at the 9th level
it's challenging when start off like that.My greatest game is 3302 lines.

Eric Chen:

True Tetris is a great game (I'm in this figurehead position of VP of the Tetris Society here at Harvard).

The only correction I'd suggest is that "a few random blocks" appearing one the opponent's screen is not a very accurate description of what happens in old-school Gameboy play. You know what I'm talking bout.

The blocks are designed to assist the Tetris-building and strategic aspect of the game. (They are rows on the bottom of the screen with one block missing, which continuously build along that one column--easy and fun tetris-reciprocating wars)

Okay take care,
Keep up the good work here on this site,
Eric Chen '06