In a recent interview with Alan Lopez at Nintendo Life, the creator of Tetris Alexey Pajitnov described playing the new Tetris 99, though he never wins. As this year marks the 35th anniversary of Tetris, Pajitnov has been discussing the legacy and importance of many of the multiple hit releases of the game, including Puyo Puyo Tetris, Tetris Effect, and Tetris 99.
Speaking about Tetris 99, Pajitnov was candid in saying that he loves the game, but unfortunately he has little opportunity to play it, as his son steals the Switch console away. Still, he states, "That’s one of the best games of Tetris of the last year. I really like what was done."
When asked if he had ever won a match, Pajitnov stated that he had not, but he had finished third a couple of times.
Pajitnov also described how it was that Tetris came to be bundled with the Nintendo Gameboy over the most obvious choice at the time, which would have been a title from the Super Mario Bros. series. Today, we cannot imagine any of the older Nintendo consoles not launching with a Super Mario game, and yet, Tetris was the default game that everyone came to love.
Pajitnov explained that, at the time, talks were occurring in Moscow. There was a discussion between Howard Lincoln, the former chairman at Nintendo of America, Mr. Arakawa, the former president, and Henk Rogers, the eventual founder of the Tetris Company.
The obvious question was "Why not Mario?" and Henk delivered what would be the deal-making reply. Pajitnov recalls, "...if they want kids to play Game Boy, it should be Mario. But if they want everyone to play Game Boy, it should be Tetris. And the right decision has been made."
Towards the end of the interview, Pajitnov was asked what he thought of the description made by some people of Tetris as a "perfect" video game, and if he agreed. Pajitnov smiled, and after some time, stated that he did not really understand what it means to be a perfect game, but in many ways, yes it was is the perfect game.
Pajitnov is likely in the majority when it comes to answering that question. The truth is that Tetris is a creation that leapt from his hands and went into the world to become a symbol in its own right. One would be hard pressed to find even a casual player of video games who did not know what Tetris was. It is a game that has been prominent in one way or another since its release 35 years ago, and it will transcend Pajitnov long after he leaves this world.
For now, head on over a play a couple of Tetris 99 matches. You might just end up being defeated by, or defeating, Pajitnov himself.