Tetris has finally been beaten, after about 34 years since its launch: it was Willis “Blue Scuti” Gibson, a thirteen-year-old boy from Oklahoma, who in just a few months has established himself as one of the protagonists of the professional player scene of the legendary puzzle developed by Alexey Pajitnov.
A necessary premise: most professional competitions are based on the Tetris developed and published in 1989 by Nintendo for its eponymous 8-bit console (“for friends” the NES). It is of course based on the original game, created by Pajitnov in 1985. It is unbeatable “on purpose”: the difficulty, i.e. the speed at which the pieces descend, gradually rises up to a certain point and then remains so. The champions of the game are limited to conducting what are essentially endurance races – whoever survives the longest, and therefore scores the highest, wins. There is no possibility of reaching a “finish line”: the game always ends with the player losing.
In short, in the minds of the developers a game of Tetris could last indefinitely. But “infinite” clashes with the technical limitations of the systems of the time: if you go on long enough, the game begins to manifest bugs and anomalous behavior of various kinds, including the corruption of the color schemes of the bricks, which in a couple of levels make progression very difficult.
By taking advantage of a properly trained artificial intelligence, fans have been discovering for some time now that at some point bugs can intensify so much that the game crashes completely. In a sense, therefore, the player wins, by “beating” the computer. Many of the protagonists of the “pro Tetris” scene had tried their hand at the feat, and Blue Scuti succeeded first (at least, it is the first documented case), after a game that lasted 30 minutes that also set new world records for the number of lines completed, level reached and score.
Incredibly, just a few hours later, Fractal, who was the first to embark on the task of reaching the coveted “Killscreen”, also reached the goal. As you can see from the video streams documenting the historic record, players adopt a very particular technique to control the game: it is called “Rolling”, an evolution of the previous “Hypertapping”.
Basically, it’s a gimmick to overcome a physical limitation that has been a barrier to the progress of the game for many years – at a certain point the speed of the pieces becomes such that it exceeds the speed with which you can press the buttons, especially the D-pad. It turns out that tapping on the back of the controller with multiple fingers, then “pressing the controller against the key” instead of the other way around, can speed up the process significantly.