I got a Game Boy for Christmas in 1989. It was amazing. It was NES games - albeit monochrome ones - that I could take with me on the go. I was eight years old at the time and my mind was properly blown. The hit that games took in visual fidelity didn't really matter to me because of the sheer awesomeness of having quality portable games.
My Game Boy library probably grew for more years than any other platform. Thanks to the SNES supporting those little carts via the Super Game Boy, and then the GameCube doing the same with its Game Boy Player, I continued to dig deeper through the library for years to come. It helped that these setups created something of a console/portable hybrid. Meaning I could start some games on a TV and then continue them on the go later. In my mind, all of this was just a dry run for what Nintendo would eventually perfect with the Switch. And this is probably why I adore the console so much: it is the perfect console/portable hybrid. I don't mind any hit that games take in visual fidelity because of the sheer awesomeness of having quality portable console games. But I digress.
The launch Game Boy came bundled with some PUZZLE game called Tetris. Puzzle game? Meh. Thankfully Santa also left me a copy of Super Mario Land, so this was the game that I played the hell out of until I was able to get some new ones. That Tetris game just made no sense to me. Blocks fall? Yeah? And? I didn't understand the rules of the game. Nor did I have any motivation to figure them out.
But then one day - the same day that me and some friends went and saw the movie The Wizard (so I'll peg this as being probably January, 1990) - I was formally introduced to Tetris. We had come back from seeing the movie and we were all sitting in my friend's kitchen and I was walked through how the game worked. Little did I know that I was being introduced to one of the most iconic and enduring games I'd ever encounter. Nearly thirty years later I'm still playing this little puzzle game. I'm still learning things about it.
Tetris is a game that EVERYBODY loves. It's like a universal pastime. It's brilliantly simple, yet deceptively deep. I've spent time in the rabbithole that is the Tetris entry on Wikipedia. Did you know that a truly never-ending game is (theoretically) impossible because of RNG and the inevitability that you will eventually get too many Z-blocks in a row to manage? Did you know that later iterations of Tetris would actually solve this because of an algorithm that prevents more than four Z-blocks in a row?
This is the kind of stuff that's enduring about Tetris. While it's just a game about falling four-block shapes, there's still so much to be said about it. For instance the history of how the game made it to the United States is fascinating, and I encourage folks to check out the documentary, From Russia With Love to see all that. Likewise, there's another pretty great documentary called The Ecstacy Of Order that follows the lives of some competitive Tetris grand masters. Totally worth seeing. There's even deeper stuff to think about like how it's human nature to play Tetris - that is the innate desire to create order out of chaos. There's the more morbid theories that Tetris is about the inevitability of death, and how we just manage to try to make the pieces of our lives fit together until then. There's a lot to think about.
But sometimes I don't want to think - I just want to play some pure Tetris. To each his own, but my preferred way of playing has nothing to do with score or competition. What I prefer is just playing for endurance. Let's see how many lines I can clear, y'know? Luckily ever since 1989 it seems like there's a version of Tetris playable on just about every platform under the sun. So lately it's come full-ish circle and I've been playing Tetris Party on my 2DS XL. It's like my 2018 Game Boy.
Last night I played some rounds while listening to the TV. I wasn't really feeling in point, but I still managed to get 180 lines. There's something soothing and zen-like about Tetris. It remains one of the most perfect games of all time, and I suspect I will continue playing it for the rest of my life.