By Andrew Liszewski
This week marks the 20th anniversary of what I consider to be one of the greatest gaming consoles of all time, Nintendo’s Game Boy. Besides the fact that it was the only console you could stash in your school bag and play almost anywhere, the limitations of the Game Boy’s Z80 processor and dot matrix LCD display meant that developers really couldn’t rely on fancy graphics, cut scenes or other gimmicks to sell titles. They basically had to focus on gameplay. And arguably the poster child for simple but addictive gameplay on the Game Boy was the title that Nintendo decided to include at launch, Alexey Pajitnov’s Tetris.
Like Windows’ Solitaire, Tetris is the kind of game that you can enjoy for 5 minutes or 5 hours, which made it the perfect title to include with the Game Boy which could be used for killing 5 minutes in the dentist’s waiting room, or a 5-hour car ride. In addition, the basic gameplay mechanics and easy-to-learn controls meant that everyone could play Tetris, so suddenly those ‘new-fangled’ video games weren’t just for kids anymore.
And I won’t even get into Tetris’s ridiculously repetitive but surprisingly catchy soundtrack, lest I get it stuck in my head again… Damn!… Too late.