Tetris (Nintendo)

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US Game Boy cover art.

Tetris is an action puzzle video game originally created by Alexey Pajitnov, however, this page covers a version released by Nintendo for the Game Boy and NES. The Game Boy version, developed by Bullet-Proof Software, was published by Nintendo first in Japan in July of 1989, then in North America in August. It is supported by the Super Game Boy. Nintendo derived the NES port from the original Game Boy version and published it in North America in November of 1989. The Famicom did not see this release in Japan because Bullet-Proof Software held the publishing rights there. Despite having two different developers, the games are both very similar and share some development staff.

While later releases of Tetris would have many different variations, this earlier release only contains two types of game play which are referred to as A-Type and B-Type. A-Type is endless game mode, and B-Type requires you to get 25 lines to win. Each mode supports starting at any level from 1-10 and has the option of an empty well, or a well filled with a variable level of garbage. Paradoxically, the NES port doesn't support multiplayer, but the Game Boy port does with a Link cable. The NES port has a the code for a 2-player version, but it's unfinished and unimplemented. The game was also included in a multicart released in the NES Super Set in Europe.


This is one of the first versions of Tetris that I had access to, and I have spent a lot of time playing both the NES and Game Boy ports. I first played the Game Boy port on a Game Boy my brother had stolen from someone at school, but then a lot more on my high school girlfriend's Game Boy when we vacationed in Florida for a week. I first played the NES port at my friend Chris's house, he had borrowed it from a neighbor, and I was able to beat the in-game high score. My cousin later borrowed it from his friend, and he and I played it a lot. Throughout my childhood, I almost exclusive played A-Type games, but I never kept any of my high scores. In 2017, I decided to beat the B-Type game on level 10 at the highest height for each. I finished the Game Boy port on 2017-12-09 and the NES port on 2017-12-18.

I do not own either of the ports. I have beaten B-Type, level: 10, height: 5 on the Game Boy and NES.


Video Game Review Icon - Enjoyment.png Video Game Review Icon - Control.png Video Game Review Icon - Appearance.png Video Game Review Icon - Sound.png Video Game Review Icon - Replayability.png
7 6 5 6 8

Best Version: 64%

— This section contains spoilers! —


  • The game is a pretty faithful port of the original Tetris, just with better window dressing.
  • The game is a lot of fun, and I rarely get tired of it even after decades of playing.
  • Both versions have great music composed or arranged by Hirokazu Tanaka, though I prefer the songs on the NES port.
  • I really enjoy the changing color-palette across levels in the NES port. I wish later Tetris games would follow this innovation, but The Tetris Company has since created an invariable color set that must be followed.


  • The controls on both the Game Boy and NES versions are a bit stiff and difficult to work with sliding.
  • The NES port has code for a 2-player mode, but it was strangely scrapped before the game was released. Which means the Game Boy has 2-player mode, but the NES, which had built-in 2-player controls, does not!
  • The NES port annoyingly clears the screen when you pause. I assume they did this to prevent cheating, but it essentially guarantees failure on the harder difficulty levels making the feature pointless.


  • Nothing.


Box Art



Review - Game Boy World.
Longplay - NES. A-Type max score, B-Type level 9 all heights.
Tool assist - Level 255.

Port Differences

  • The NES game features ten color palettes that cycle across the levels.
  • The NES has three musical options, the Game Boy only two, all five songs are different.
  • The NES version is slightly harder at identical difficulty levels.
  • Strangely, the NES port, which has two built-in controller ports, is strictly a 1-player game, but the Game Boy, which only has an optional connection port, features 2-player mode.


The NES port alters the color of the tetrominoes as you progress through the levels. It has 10 programmed palettes which cycle through as the levels progress. The game has a bug after level 137 where the color palette becomes garbled. I've created a graphic which shows the 10 normal palettes and ranked them below.

Tetris - NES - Palettes.png

Palette Rank Colors Notes
0 2 Blue / Cyan Very crisp colors and reminiscent of Mega Man.
1 4 Forest / Chartreuse A nice combo, very fresh and comforting.
2 5 Magenta / Pink This one always makes me think of cotton candy.
3 6 Blue / Green Reminds me of the old Seattle Seahawks logo.
4 9 Red / Seafoam Christmasy colors, pastel but just as clashing. Ugly.
5 7 Seafoam / Cornflower I looks nice together if you like boring pastels lacking contrast.
6 1 Red / Gray This one reminds me of lava and ash. I'm always happy to see this palette.
7 3 Purple / Burgundy Nice combo, and the only double-dark set.
8 8 Blue / Red Makes me think of the American flag, except the colors aren't dark enough.
9 10 Red / Orange Yuck. It makes me think of clowns or fast food logos.

I've created a hack of the NES port of Tetris which features ten new colors palettes which you can download below. While creating the hack, I gained respect for the designers who created the original color set. The NES's color palette is so limited, it was quite difficult to come up with colors that both harmonize and contrast enough.


Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Tetris
Japanese テトリス Tetorisu Tetris
Russian Тетрис Tetris


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