For many of us, Tetris is the block-based puzzle game that we use to procrastinate on essays or other professional projects. But it might surprise you to know that there's an entire community built around the original release of Tetris on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Even several decades after its 1989 debut, classic Tetris on the NES currently has players engaged in competitive tournaments and world record–setting challenges in scenes like the annual Classic Tetris World Championship.
Yet even among the most seasoned classic Tetris players, there are few who know what it's like to beat the game. That is, until 2024.
At the very beginning of January 2024, a 13-year-old boy became the first person believed to have ever beaten Tetris. How is this possible, you might ask? More importantly, what happens when you beat the game? Let's break down the blocks.
Beating 'Tetris' is no simple feat, but what happens if you do?
Tetris is a time-honored classic, even among casual gamers. The rules are simple. Line up a series of falling blocks so that they create a solid line across the playfield. Once a row is made, it disappears and the player earns points. You can clear a maximum of four lines at once, which is called a "Tetris."
After clearing a certain number of lines, the level increases and the blocks start falling faster.
Technically speaking, one does not "beat" classic Tetris in the traditional sense of the term. There's no story with a clear-cut end and there are no real goalposts in the game to reach in order to play it to completion. Because of the game's score-based nature, the only thing you can really do is achieve as high a score as possible as you advance in levels and the blocks fall at an increasingly faster rate.
However, most of these retro games do have a technical endpoint. Typically, they occur when the game itself can no longer keep up with its own difficulties as the player progresses, leading to a sudden crash.
Such is the case with classic Tetris. If you're skilled enough to reach a high enough level, the blocks will begin falling so fast that the game itself can't process the speeds. In that especially rare occurrence, the game will simply freeze on one screen.
Teenager Willis Gibson aka Blue Scuti became the first player believed to have beaten 'Tetris' — at only 13 years old.
While there's a way to beat Tetris by forcing the game to work at impossible speeds, it's no easy task to accomplish. That's what makes this teenager's record so impressive. In early January 2024, competitive Tetris player Willis Gibson aka Blue Scuti became the first person believed to have beaten classic Tetris. (He is also the youngest person to have reached the Classic Tetris World Championship, in which he placed third in October 2023.) He captured his record-setting 2024 game on stream, which lasted for an unprecedented 38 minutes.
In his video, he can be seen playing until Level 157 before the game crashes, indicating that he pushed the game to its absolute limit. He achieved this record by using an advanced technique known as "rolling," which involves tapping the controller on its back a certain number of times depending on how far you need to move a piece to the side. In theory, rolling allows players to manipulate fast-falling pieces on levels previously thought to be unplayable.
With Scuti having smashed several records with this one achievement, he has cemented himself as a gaming legend within the Tetris community.