The Movie Waffler Talking Blocks: The Things Tetris (2023) Exaggerated | The Movie Waffler

Talking Blocks: The Things Tetris (2023) Exaggerated

Talking Blocks: The Things Tetris (2023) Exaggerated

Tetris, the 1985 video game from Soviet dev Alexey Pajitnov, has the power to invade your dreams. While that might sound facetious, it’s true. Tetris players report that the urge to stack blocks pervades even after switching the game off, with some more dramatic examples insisting that colors and shapes enter their subconscious too. 

It’s called the Tetris Effect. Mercifully, it’s harmless.

The Cold War

Tetris is an unlikely story. Beginning in the Soviet Union, floppy disks containing the game penetrated Hungary and Poland before ever reaching the West. It took two years to find its way to the 1987 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and three years before it received a European and United States release, via Mirrorsoft and Spectrum HoloByte, respectively.

In hindsight, Tetris’ early days were an allegory of The Cold War, as developers in the US were hostile to publisher Robert Stein’s efforts to get a Soviet product released in the States. This is where Tetris (2023) on Apple TV+ begins, with Stein claiming the rights to sell Tetris abroad. He had been premature, as no deal yet existed with the Russian authorities.

The plot continues to tell the tale of almost every major player in the games industry in the 1980s, including SEGA and Nintendo, as well as the relationship between Stein, Pajitnov, and Henk Rogers, who Stein first met in Las Vegas.

Media Franchise

The obvious question to ask is, why did it take so long to get a film about Tetris? According to GameSpot, the blocky puzzle has sold 520 million copies, including all the different versions (EA's 1008 mobile version shifted 100m alone). Tetris also has an expansive media franchise that goes well beyond the movie.

On the official website, fans can purchase a Tetris skateboard deck, a suit covered in tetrominoes, a tabletop strategy game, and even candy in the shape of the world's most recognizable bricks. A Tetris Slingo game is available on the PlayStar casino page, too. It’s one of the first video games to get the online slingo treatment.

Slingo, for those new to the concept, is a combination of bingo and slots. It partners frequently with pop culture icons, such as Discovery’s Shark Week and Deadliest Catch, and the British TV show Deal or No Deal.

As for why it took so long to make a Tetris movie, it may simply be that it’s hard to market a forty-year-old title to modern audiences.

Car Chase

So, how accurate is it? There's no doubt that Taron Egerton's film follows the rough lines laid out by the protagonists’ lives but, equally, there’s no question that Tetris got the Hollywood treatment. The best example involves the KGB, a Soviet Union security force. Its role got ramped up to ridiculous levels: a car chase and a knife in the proverbial back were added to the real-life story.

Oddly enough, the KGB was involved in Tetris’ history, specifically, in the efforts of Henk Rogers to get the rights of the game from the Russian state. Unfortunately, life is never quite as exciting as movies like to depict.