North American box art for Tetris on Game Boy
Developer Nintendo
Publisher Nintendo
Platform(s) Game Boy, Virtual Console (Nintendo 3DS), Game Boy - Nintendo Switch Online
Release date Game Boy:
Japan June 14, 1989
USA July 31, 1989
Europe September 28, 1990
Virtual Console (3DS):
USA December 22, 2011
Europe December 22, 2011
Australia December 22, 2011
Japan December 28, 2011
Game Boy - Nintendo Switch Online:
USA February 8, 2023
Japan February 9, 2023
Europe February 9, 2023
Australia February 9, 2023
South Korea February 9, 2023
HK February 9, 2023
Genre Puzzle
ESRB:ESRB's E rating symbol - Everyone
PEGI:PEGI 3.svg - Three years and older
CERO:CERO rating A - All ages
ACB:ACB G.svg - General
Mode(s) Single player, multiplayer
Nintendo Switch:
Digital download icon for use in templates. Digital download
Game Boy:
Game Boy icon for use in templates. Game Pak
Nintendo 3DS:
Digital download icon for use in templates. Digital download
Nintendo Switch:
Game Boy:
Nintendo 3DS:
The title screen for Tetris
The game's title screen

Tetris is a puzzle game for the Game Boy released in 1989 in Japan and North America and 1990 in Europe. It was developed and published by Nintendo (with the rights to a Game Boy version sub-licensed from Bullet-Proof Software[1]) and is directly based on Alexey Pajitnov's original rendition of Tetris. The basic gameplay involves stacking a series of blocks to create full rows with increasingly fast speeds. This simple gameplay, combined with its basic visuals, gave Tetris a universal appeal that made it immensely popular. It massively helped sell the Game Boy by virtue of being bundled with it upon release.

The Game Boy Tetris title was made available for the Nintendo 3DS's Virtual Console in December 2011, although the title was later pulled from all regions. It was later released on the Nintendo Switch's Game Boy - Nintendo Switch Online service as one of its launch titles on February 8, 2023.

The Nintendo Entertainment System version of the game also has Super Mario characters cameo on the end screen. This version was never released in Japan as Bullet-Proof Software held the rights to produce Tetris for the Family Computer.


Mode selection

The goal of the game is to stack blocks into complete lines, removing them from play. All of the blocks, called Tetriminos,[2] are based on the tetrominos (every geometric shape that can be created from four perfect squares). As play begins, a random Tetrimino falls to the bottom of the screen, and the player can position it and rotate it without being able to move it back up. After one is placed down, another appears, and this continues for every subsequent Tetrimino. In single-player, the player can choose from the A-Type or B-Type modes to play. In A-Type, the player selects the speed at which the Tetriminos fall, then the game begins. It continues forever[3] until the Tetriminos reach the top of the screen, with no more room left for them to appear. In B-Type, the player must clear twenty-five lines, and in this mode, they can choose both the Tetriminos' falling speed and the number of misaligned blocks that are already on-screen. Once the necessary lines have been cleared, the player is scored on their performance. If they complete B-Type with the maximum settings, a special ending plays featuring the launch of a spaceship.

Luigi, sad at his loss

Multiplayer features only two players, and pits Mario against Luigi as they stack Tetriminos on separate fields. If one player clears more than one line, extra lines suddenly appear at the bottom of the other player's screen. Play continues until either one player runs out of space or one player clears at least thirty lines, at which point Mario and Luigi are seen celebrating or moping. The games then begin anew, with a cleared screen, until one player wins three times.


Though the Game Boy had four launch titles upon its Japanese release, none of them were bundled with the console. Henk Rogers of Bullet-Proof Software convinced Minoru Arakawa to bundle the Game Boy in North America and Europe with Tetris rather than Super Mario Land, stating that the former would have broader appeal while the latter would only appeal to children. As he put it, "[i]f you want little boys to buy your machine include 'Mario,' but if you want everyone to buy your machine, include 'Tetris'".[4]


Critical receptionEdit

Release Reviewer, Publication Score Comment
3DS Lucas M. Thomas, IGN 9.0/10 "Tetris endures. It was one of the greatest video games ever made when it first appeared back in the '80s, and it retains that status to this day. This particular version of Tetris just adds to that sense of awe, as it's inarguably the most important and nostalgic edition of the game ever published."
Game Boy Marc Golding, Honest Gamers 10/10 "To summarize the Tetris experience is to quote Maynard James Keenan of the great rock band Tool -- as I am often wont to do: I know the pieces fit!"
Game Boy Adam Riley, Cubed3 10/10 "Tetris is one game that will never be forgotten, no matter how many pretenders to the thrown come and go over time. Sure, there may be some games that have actually managed to improve on the idea, but the original still stands out as one of those revolutionary games. I should not have to tell you to play this, as the majority already will have in some form or other..."
Game Boy Victor Lucas, Electrical Playground 10/10 "Although we're talkin' moving different shapes around and fitting them into the proper positions, Tetris stands as one of the best videogames ever made. The Game Boy would be the Game Infant without it."
Compiler Platform / Score
GameRankings 89.73% (GB)


The popularity of Tetris was immense, to the point where the success of the Game Boy is often attributed to Tetris itself.[5][6] Due in large part to the game being bundled with the Game Boy, Tetris sold over 33 million copies[7] and its combined earnings were billions of dollars.[8] The game has thus gained a reputation as the handheld's "killer app".[9] Although the game succeeded with Nintendo's core demographic of young children, the game was notably also popular with people outside of their usual audience, such as businessmen and other non-traditional gamers, and Nintendo began marketing the game towards them.[7][10]


Tetris holds the distinction of being the first video game played in space, by Russian astronaut Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Serebrov.[11] The astronaut received the game from Nintendo's then-chairman, Howard Lincoln, while the latter was on a trip in the USSR to see Pajitnov.[12]

References in later mediaEdit


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Boot-up screen: "Tetris licensed to Bullet-Proof Software and Sub-licensed to Nintendo."
  2. ^ "About Tetris®." Tetris, tetris.com/about-us. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  3. ^ Spectre255. "Game Boy Tetris - 999,999 Points." YouTube, 13 Mar. 2006, www.youtube.com/watch?v=keeSEJG4XzU. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  4. ^ Levy, Karyne. "The Complicated History Of 'Tetris,' Which Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary Today." Business Insider, 6 June 2014, 10:59 AM, www.businessinsider.com/tetris-history-2014-6.
  5. ^ Kaplan, Arie. "Games To Go." The Epic Evolution of Video Games, Lerner Publications Company, 2014, p. 15. ShockZone — Games and Gamers. Google Books, books.google.ca/books?id=ACejAgAAQBAJ.
  6. ^ Rollings, Andrew, and Dave Morris. Game Architecture and Design, New Riders, 2004, p. 538. Google Books, books.google.ca/books?id=qFdzalo0ixcC.
  7. ^ a b Haghirian, Parissa, and Philippe Gagnon. "The Handheld Market." Case Studies in Japanese Management, World Scientific, 2011, pp. 61-62. Google Books, books.google.ca/books?id=Lx08DQAAQBAJ.
  8. ^ Sheff, David. Game Over: How Nintendo Conquered The World. Knopf Doubleday, 2011. Google Books, books.google.ca/books?id=b_N5FzzD3hsC.
  9. ^ Bellomo, Mark."Bricks and Pocket Monsters." Totally Tubular '80s Toys, Krause, 2010, p. 348. Google Books, books.google.ca/books?id=CF8AjVJXvH0C.
  10. ^ Loguidice, Bill, and Matt Barton. "Nintendo Game Boy (1989)." Vintage Game Consoles: An Inside Look at Apple, Atari, Commodore, Nintendo, and the Greatest Gaming Platforms of All Time, CRC Press, 2014. Google Books, books.google.ca/books?id=wZnpAgAAQBAJ.
  11. ^ Plunkett, Luke. "This Game Boy Has Been to Space. For Real." Kotaku, 4 May 2011, kotaku.com/5798377/this-game-boy-has-been-to-space-for-real. Retrieved January 22, 2018.
  12. ^ Nintendo Staff. "A Link With The Soviet Union." Nintendo Power, 1989, p. 54.