Well ladies and gentlemen, it appears that we have topped out. We have reached the final blog entry. I must say, I am a tad bit teary eyed at I write this final post but I am glad to be done with all things Tetris. At least writing about it two times a week… I am rather shocked and proud that I was able to continue with my scatter brained and last minute idea.

With having such a love-hate relationship with this topic, it was both exciting and frustrating to have the task of picking both my own and Bo’s brain for ideas. The ideas have evolved throughout the semester but the overall premise has remained intact and for that, I feel as though this blog has been a success.

My sole hope for this blog was to open the eyes of others of this completely foreign world. Whether I was successful or not will remain unknown. Who knows, maybe next year one of my classmates will be participating in the 5th Annual Tetris World Championships or maybe not. Either way, I hope interest was sparked into this concept and that something was learned along the way.

Overall, congratulations to all who have reached successes in this game and those who have yet to achieve what they have set out to do.
Logically, it would make sense that there would be a shortage and eventual end to ‘max-out’ scores being reached. The annual Tetris Tournaments and release of the documentary ‘Ecstasy of Order’ have help to revive the slowly diminishing Tetris community. It appears that in the past year or so, veterans and newbies alike have both reached victories and successes in the game. Whether that’s a ‘max-out’ or a new personal best, the Tetris community is continually shifting and evolving as the competition gets larger and much fiercer.

A ‘max-out’ has been reached by yet another individual. This particular individual has placed within the top eight at the Tetris World Championships both this year and last. His scores have seemed vary significantly since his introduction into the Tetris community; eventually climbing the ranks and becoming one of the best.

Joshua Tolles, became victorious today when his score flipped and shone the bright blue screen with white letters… 999,999. He immediately erupts with (vulgar) celebration.

"I am never, EVER playing NES Tetris again."
A statement they all seem to say, but never follow.
How does one constitute validity in their achievements?

Does a picture suffice? Or a video? Perhaps an eye witness testimony is enough.
It appears that no matter what mode of proof someone chooses, there is always some form of doubt in the minds of others.

This could be both a blessing and a curse. Harry Hong once made a comment that talked about how it is considered to be a compliment for someone to doubt your achievements as they view it as something that is impossible. This may true, but those who deserve recognitions may be stripped of their accomplishments simply based on doubts.

Countless arguments have taken place amongst those in the Tetris community about how one can offer up significant proof in order to gain that much wanted pat on the back for their newest score.

Jonas has made claims of being the first to max-out the game, but Harry Hong is the first to have a max-out on video. Is this fair?

There are numerous examples that have been presented of this happening. A new high transition score, a new individual max-out, etc. but no video = no validity.

Personally, I am a strong believer that without video, there is no need to congratulate a particular individual on such an accomplishment when it comes to the world of Tetris. It would be so simple for me to go online and make claims about a max-out (no one would believe me since I am terrible at the game) but why should someone who is ‘good’ at this game be given an online party if they could very well be lying as well.

After months of searching, a new obsessed has weaseled its way in our home. Of course, it’s an obsession belonging to the man of the house. Last weekend, a new woman entered into Bo’s life and I must say that I am not the slightest bit jealous. However, the neglected Nintendo down stairs may be crying itself to sleep.

An old arcade version of Miss Pac Man is glowing brightly in our living room, filling the whole house with this repetitive music whenever Bo presses start.

When the news was presented to me that a Miss Pac Man console was purchased via Ebay, I was rather thrilled. I remember enjoying my time at arcades munching down the little pills and ghosts, Pinky was always my favorite. But I must confess, having the monstrous machine as a decoration in my living room, I have lost significant pleasure for that plump little yellow ball.

In the past week or so, I cannot recall a single instance in which Bo has picked up a controller to play his beloved game of Tetris. Is this due to the fact that he has moved onto a different retro game that he hopes to master or the love between him and Miss Pac Man is just new, fresh and exciting?

Never the less, it’s just another activity that is taking attention away from me and that is not something I like. Video games will always be something that I despise no matter how cool they truly are.
Frustration simmers throughout an individual as they chase their goals pertaining to this game. The more that individual plays, the more their dreams seem farther and farther out of reach; resulting in an eruption of so many different emotions.

From an outside perspective, these eruptions may seem to be a bit over dramatic. I am plenty guilty of voicing my opinion towards these out bursts as being over exaggerated. However, I have also participated in a few episodes of frustration as well. Seeing scores glowing from the screen that were as close as one Tetris (erasing four lines at once) away from a max-out would break my heart knowing that it was beginning to create a taste of victory on Bo’s tongue.

This exact situation is what happened to a certain member of the Tetris community earlier this week.

Terry Purcell, one of the greatest individuals I have ever had the pleasure of encountering, received his highest personal score but also missed a max-out by one Tetris.

A perfect max-out set up was created. All that was needed was the beloved line piece to cause the score to flip to 999,999 and become victorious. His stack begins to climb too high which results in his only choice for survival be that of ‘burning lines.’ As soon as he places a piece that blocks off his well, he finally receives the necessary line piece. Sadly, the game transitions to Level 29, significantly increasing in speed and resulting in his death. Frustration erupts like a volcano!!

The video below (skip to 22 minutes) will demonstrate both the amount of frustration from the player as the sympathy of the significant other who also feels a certain amount of disappointment.

Easy peasy, lemon squeezy… Bo Steil sets another world record in Tetris (that has yet to be verified); at least according to Twin Galaxies. Reaching a score of 562,594… a new record in PAL Tetris.

With this victory comes an outstanding achievement…

He now holds ALL the score records for NES Tetris on Twin Galaxies’ website.

After having PAL Tetris for roughly a week; reaching a high score is pretty impressive (if I must say so myself)

Maybe now that he has reached so many achievements in Tetris, he will finally place the game on the shelf to allow it to collect dust.

Sadly, anyone who knows Bo knows that this is not going to be the case.


I am extremely proud of Bo for this newest achievement but Jani has an unverified PAL Tetris score of 716,579. Clearly, this is impressive but one must understand that Bo was playing his game at a faster speed due to the fact that he isn’t playing on a PAL Nintendo.

Either way, both scores are incredible and I applaud both!!

As qualifications progressed, numerous became worried and saddened by the fact that Jani wasn’t putting up good scores. He had come all this way and probably won’t even qualify. It’s not fair that he didn’t know that it would be a different version.

Finally, a score of 725,726 had been reached. Not only had he qualified, he obtained a great qualifying score.

Jani ended the day of qualifying in the number 10 seed.

Scary to think that someone who has never played this specific version of Tetris before, ended up being able to land such a high score.

On the day of the tournament, no one seemed to know what would happen with any of those in the competition, especially with Jani. Would be he able to succeed and progress throughout the competition or would he sadly be out after the first round?

He was successful in getting to the final eight. However, he was beat by Harry Hong which resulted in him placing 8th overall in the competition. Not bad for his lack of experience.

Those within the Tetris community decided to purchase what was needed for Jani to bring back to Finland. He was given a Tetris cartridge as well as a NES console.

Bo asked, “Are you going to practice the American version?”
Jani replied, “Yes, if I want to win next year.”

I cannot wait to see the progress and successes that Jani achieves in the coming year. He is force to be reckoned with; all competitors should be scared. However, as intimidated as everyone is… Jani has definitely become the favorite amongst those in the Tetris community.
4,906 miles.

That’s how far one individual travelled.

Jani Herlevi from Helsinki, Finland made the long trek to Portland, Oregon for the 4th Annual Tetris World Championships; in hopes of making his first trip to America one that would end in victory.

News spread fast at qualifications that ‘this Finland guy’ was there. No one could believe that someone would travel half way around the world to play Tetris. It could only mean one thing… he must be really good.

I had to have the concept totally mapped out to me. Someone from Finland… came here… to play Tetris… I couldn’t wrap my brain around the idea that someone would travel THAT far for this game. It’s just Tetris.

Everyone was saddened to find out that Jani was unaware of the difference between NTSC (American) and PAL (European) game play. Just like Jani, I was completely naïve to the face that there was anything other than one version of Tetris.

Alright, time for another Tetris lesson…
For every game made, a European version had to be created. PAL Tetris has a faster drop speed on higher levels but the player is able to move from left to right quicker. Due to the variances in American and European power supplies, Nintendo attempted to offset these differences. The overall strategy of Tetris is similar but the speeds are much different. In NTSC (American) Tetris, Level 29 is viewed as the ‘kill screen’ this is not the case with PAL. In PAL, Level 19 has similar drop speed as Level 29 of NTSC (American). This level is semi-playable with the increase in side to side movement ability.

Jani sat down to play NTSC (American) Tetris for the first time at qualifications.

It is probably safe to say that prior to my new life involving Tetris, I had never picked up a NES controller. This probably has to do the lack of Nintendo products in my household; we had Sega and PlayStation. Also, I had little desire to play video games but enjoyed watching my brother geek his games for hours.

When Tetris was introduced in my life, a mere year and a half ago, I loathed every inch of it. There was nothing appealing about the game except for when Bo bent over to switch off the console. I was continually being asked if I wanted to play a game but would never sit down to do so.

One afternoon I decided I should probably try it. It doesn’t look THAT hard. I could probably be as good as Bo.

Boy was I wrong…

Level 18… The pieces appear to be falling at such a consistent yet easy pace when I watch it being played but when I pushed start I was instantly killed. Level 0 was more my speed.

I found myself frustrated and frazzled by each new piece being presented at the top of the screen.

“Look at the next box, it helps you decide where to put each piece.”

What! I need to look at something else besides the falling pieces. Oh heck no.

Both A and B buttons spin the pieces… I think I’ll stick to one.

My average brain could not and still cannot wrap around the concepts of this game.

I think I will stick to watching from the side lines being a personal cheerleader.

I am continually asked by people if I play the game. My answer is always the same, “No, I am terrible at it and think it is boring.” I love the game because of the joy it brings to Bo but if the game were to disappear altogether you wouldn’t see me shed a tear.

Here is a picture of my high score! Watch out everyone, I am about to max out soon…

In my dreams.
I would like everyone to press rewind as we head back in time to November 11, 2012.

Bo Steil has decided today is the day; he is going to earn a world record.

Everything must be in its correct and proper position.

The laptop is strategically placed on the table next to him; the television can be seen on the monitor thanks to the nifty webcam. The red circle signifying record is just begging to be pressed.

The  cartridge is placed into the top loader NES. With controller in hand, Tengen Tetris is ready to be played.

I leave Bo to his outrageous idea of playing this never ending game as I head to work. Both of us knowing it is a bad idea for this attempt to occur with me present. Especially with my excessive need for attention at times. I would not be willing to be completely ignored for such a time due to something so unimportant in my eyes.

A world record in both lines and score is achieved.

Lines – 5,597

Score – 10,481, 215

An overall playing time of 4 hours.

Only stopping because he had to go the land of tape… aka work.

*This particular variation of the game is a continuous Tetris in which an end doesn’t exist. Constantly falling Tetromenos fill the screen until you either top out or you no longer wish to continue. Unlike NES Tetris where the speed continues to accelerate, a playable pace is eventually reached; making survival possible. There is strategy and skill involved but also a certain amount of stamina.