Everyone’s favorite tile-matching puzzle game made its debut on June 6, 1984.
June 6th marks the release date of the incredibly popular tile-matching puzzle video game known as Tetris. Created by Russian designer Alexey Pajitnov in collaboration with Dmitry Pavlovsky and Vadim Gerasimov back in 1984, the name originates from the Greek numerical prefix tetra and tennis, which happened to be Pajitnov’s favorite sport. Aside from going on to become a pop culture icon, it was also the first entertainment software to be exported from the USSR to the U.S. and published by Spectrum HoloByte for Commodore 64 and IBM PC.
For the 1% of you who may have never played Tetris, the game is based around the use of tetrominoes, a four-element special case of polyominoes. These have been used in popular puzzles dating back to at least 1907; however, even the enumeration of pentominoes has traces to antiquity.
Throughout the years, the game and many of its variants have been made available for nearly every console and computer operating system, not to mention other gadgets such as graphing calculators, mobile phones, portable music players and even non-media items like oscilloscopes, pumpkins and the sides of skyscrapers.
To commemorate its 31st birthday, we’ve compiled a few of our favorite projects, inspired by the classic game and brought to life by the burgeoning Maker Movement.
In Your Pocket
Oregon programmer Kevin Bates has developed a Game Boy-styled, credit card-sized gadget called Arduboy. This open-source platform allows people to play, create and share their favorite games, ranging from attacking aliens to breaking bricks in Tetris-like fashion. Even more, the Arduboy Arcade is entirely free and designed to spark up nostalgia of a more simpler time through its true 8-bit, black-and-white graphics. The device even has a rechargeable battery that lasts eight hours.
On Your Wrist
Also the brainchild of Kevin Bates, Ardubracelet is a tiny, wrist-mounted unit that features three bright OLED screens affixed to a flexible circuit board, as well as capacitive strips and a rechargeable battery that provides up to 10 hours of gameplay. While you may not think the 0.66” screen makes manipulating shapes all that easy, the responsive touchscreen interface makes matching blocks a simple task.
At Your Fingertips
Gamebuino consists of an 84×48 pixel display, a mini joypad, three command buttons and a library of pre-set codes that make it easy for any openminded individual to start building a game. From basic staples of gaming history like Tetris to Zelda-like adventures and beyond, the Arduino-powered console challenges its users to create something no one’s ever seen before.
In Your Hand
Just for some amusement, the jolliFactory crew whipped up a simple LED Tetris game by daisy-chaining two of their bi-color matrix driver modules together, driven by an Arduino. The creation itself was an adaptation of similar projects found throughout Instructables.
On Your T-Shirt
Luxembourg Maker Marc Kerger decided to show his appreciation for the 8-bit hit by uploading a video of a unique Tetris-playing t-shirt to YouTube. The interactive garment was enabled by the combination of an Arduino Uno (ATmega328), four AA batteries and 128 LEDs. Pretty much the only thing this nifty wearable game can’t do is emit the Tetris soundtrack.
On an Office Building
In Philadelphia, hundreds of LED lights were embedded in the 29-story Cia Centre building’s glass facade to display colorful patterns for city dwellers. However, for one night, supersized shapes “fell” on two sides of the mirrored tower as competitors used joysticks to maneuver them, creating a spectacle against the night sky that organizers hoped inspired onlookers and players to think about the possibilities of technology.
On Your Nightstand
Brian Nolte was prone to oversleeping. So much so that the Maker devised a clock that would make it nearly impossible to wake up late. Based on an Arduino, the gizmo shares many attributes with off-the-shelf models including multiple alarms, a backup battery, and snooze features. His alarm, though, goes one step further and ensures its users are fully awake each morning. If the user hits their pre-defined snooze limit, the alarm sounds and will not turn off until they have cleared four lines in Tetris.
On a Trashcan
The brainchild Sam Johnson and Steven Bai, TetraBIN employs custom-built electronics and LED panels to reimagine an everyday garbage can and to help promote sustainable behaviors and playful experiences throughout a city. A pair of prototype installations initially debuted back at Vivid Sydney 2014, allowing those passing by to collaboratively control Tetris-like blocks on the screen of its outer surface. The pattern of these blocks vary based on the size and shape of the litter, as well as the timing of disposal.
Inside Your Pumpkin
What do you get when you combine a pumpkin with the classic video game? Pumpktris, of course! Nathan Pryor built a fully-playable version of Tetris right into the Halloween doorstep decoration with 128 LEDs for the display and the stem serving as its controller.
On a Microcontroller
AdaCore’s Tristan Gingold and Yannick Moy took the term ‘game board’ to a whole new level by enjoying the tile-matching puzzle on their Atmel | SMART SAM4S ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller.
On a Breadboard
Jianan Li designed a breadboard Tetris game around a pair of Atmel MCUs, each running the Arduino bootloader. The main chip is an ATmega328, tasked with monitoring the buttons and controlling gameplay, while the other is an ATtiny85. The eight pin chip listens to its bigger brother, playing the theme song when the game starts, and pausing or resuming to match the user input. More recently, the Maker went on to piece together a pretty impressive, uber mini gaming device as well.
This contraption from German non-profit organization Toolbox Bodensee is comprised of 49 floppy drives controlled by an Arduino and connected to a keyboard to produce a number of theme songs including that of Tetris. The Arduino is tasked with converting the signals from the keyboard into an analog signal, resulting in an recognizable song. The project took just over three months to complete and required 84 3D-printed parts for it to become entirely functional.