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Tetris: The Soviet Mind Game

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TETЯIS: The Soviet Mind Game
Tetris (Tengen) -!- 001
Tetris' title screen
Publisher Tengen
Developer Mirrorsoft
Console NES
Date 1988
Engine Tetris engine
Sound engine Mirrorsoft
Alternate names/hacks Tetris II (what it's normally referred to as on multicarts)
TETЯIS: The Soviet Mind Game is a notable version of Tetris, released by Tengen, that was produced for the NES. The game was only on the shelf for four weeks before Nintendo became the official publisher for the game. 

GameplayEdit

The gameplay is often cited as being better than Nintendo's port, as it supports 2 player mode and has more options to choose from on the menus.

Development and historyEdit

In 1984, Soviet Academy of Sciences researcher Alexey Pajitnov alongside Dmitry Pavlovsky and Vadim Gerasimov developed Tetris out of a desire to create a two-player puzzle game,[1] and the game spread commercially amongst computers. Mirrorsoft president Robert Stein approached Pajitnov with an offer to distribute Tetris worldwide, and secured the rights to license the title, which were in turn granted to Spectrum HoloByte.[2] After seeing the game run on an Atari ST, programmer Ed Logg petitioned Atari Games to license it, and approached Stein.[3] With the rights secured, Atari Games produced an arcade version of Tetris,[4] and under their Tengen brand name began development to port the title to the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in May 1989.[5][6]

Tengen along with Spectrum HoloByte later licensed the rights to Henk Rogers on behalf of Nintendo to distribute Tetris in Japan, and Rogers traveled to Moscow to secure permission to distribute Tetris with the Game Boy. Around this same time, Nintendo approached Spectrum HoloByte on the prospects of developing a version of Tetris for the Game Boy, and a representative of Mirrorsoft, Kevin Maxwell, traveled to Russia to secure permission on their behalf.[7] However, because Stein had secured the rights from Pajitnov directly and not from the Russian authorities,[8] the USSR's Ministry of Software and Hardware Export stated that the console rights to Tetris had been licensed to nobody, and that Atari Games had only been licensed the rights to produce arcade games with the property.[9] They sent a fax to Maxwell in England with 48 hours to respond; Maxwell however was still in Russia at the time and received the fax late, resulting in licensing being distributed to Nintendo.[10] In April 1989, Tengen, who had previously filed an anti-trust suit against Nintendo, sued Nintendo again claiming rights to distribute Tetris on the NES, and Nintendo counter-sued citing infringement of trademark.[11][12] In June 1989, a month after the release of Tengen's Tetris, a U.S. District Court Judge issued an injunction barring Tengen from further distributing the game, and further ordered all existing copies of the game be destroyed.[13] As a result, 268,000 Tetris cartridges were recalled and destroyed.[14]

In an interview, Ed Logg noted that the Tengen version of Tetris was built completely from scratch, using no source code or material from the original game. After presenting the title at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Tengen president Randy Browleit requested improvements in the game. Originally portrayed solely in black and white, Browleit requested that the pieces be portrayed in color, and Logg altered the game accordingly prior to the next Consumer Electronics Show. When asked which version of Tetris he liked the most, Logg stated the Nintendo version of Tetris for the NES "wasn't tuned right", citing a lack of the use of logarithmic tuning over doubling the game's speed.[15]

TriviaEdit

  • This game appears often on multicarts, typically named Tetris II on the menu. Multicart versions also often omit the title screen, replacing it with a plain text title to save ROM space.
  • If the reverse R on the title screen is read in Cyrillic, the game's name would be "Tetiais/Tetyais".
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