Tetris (Atari Games)
Original design by Alexey Pajitnov, developed by Kelly Turner,
Norm Avellar and Ed Logg
Many companies have tried their hand at a port
In arcades, the ports that get the most buzz include those by Sega and Arika. Yet
there remains much to recommend Atari's port of the game, long the standard in U.S.
arcades, for its inventive special features like advancing lines, appearing
blocks, and pre-existing stack levels.
Its excellent music, Russian dance
animations, and other touches like using high score names as levels are also
appealing. Tengen's fabled NES version of Tetris,
generally superior to Nintendo's but chased off of shelves by the courts, was
based off of Atari's arcade game.
Now, Atari Tetris
is not flawless. The joystick control lacks the sharpness that most Tetris ports have and that makes the
game more difficult at later levels, which keeps the difficulty up since the
game's speed never gets as fast as other versions. But it's a solid port, with
plenty of charm and interesting variations on the game on higher levels that
vary it a bit without turning it into a game removed from the Tetris concept.
Some more recent Tetris
games try to hook players by drilling deeper into the game's concept,
especially Akira's Tetris: The Grand
Master, a move which helped to attract hardcore players. Yet Tetris is a populist game, one that lots
of people play who could care less about 20G or standardized piece rotations.
of this, I consider this the definitive arcade Tetris, even in the face of modern revisions like The Grand Master, for while that series
is well thought-out, and commendable for breathing more life than one might
think possible with such a simple concept, they are still games
which geek out a bit too much about
the idea of Tetris. It was originally
a very casual kind of game, played by everyone, and Atari's Tetris is a casual kind of arcade game.
One interesting thing about the game... watch the game
demonstration in attract mode and it becomes obvious that the game doesn't
demonstrate play using pre-recorded inputs, but actually contains a capable
computer Tetris player. They needed this because one of the boards used for
attract mode contains the initials of the top scoring player in blocks, so in
order to depict realistic play they needed a program capable of responding to