Whenever someone brings up the story of how they got their first Nintendo console, you either get the “I got it for Christmas” version or the “I got it for my birthday” version. These nostalgic reminiscings usually involve beautiful memories and sleepless nights with the newest Super Mario, Zelda or Metroid games… Mine? Not really.
My parents were a bit weird, and gaming made them weirder. They got hooked on the console at our yearly family gathering in Germany, where they got drunk with my uncle and played some random games until midnight. They eventually bought the Nintendo for themselves. Most of the time, it was stored in their smoke-filled bedroom, paired with a Sony CRT, so me and my brother would rarely get to play with it.
I still remember my first encounter with the family console. How could I forget? One evening, the screams of my father woke me up and I ran to their bedroom. As opposed to the usual childhood trauma where you catch your parents having sex, I caught my parents fighting over a game.
At one point, my father yelled: “Ana, even a kid could finish that level!” Long story short, that was the night where I learned to play my first video game. As you probably guessed from the title, it was Tetris. And not just any old version of it. No, it was the fancy Tengen Tetris. Before long, I was hooked as well.
Combine cigars, alcohol and homemade food, and you have yourself a night of entertainment (for adults)
You can’t tell me all that doesn’t sound weird. I refuse to believe it. You have two grown-ups, a policeman and a seamstress, who never came too close to a console or a computer their whole lives (although they were no strangers to reaching for the jackpot at the machines) organizing Tetris-based drinking competitions with their neighbors. Mind you, this was in a small town in the Soviet Bloc where most households didn’t even have a TV.
But, I wasn’t complaining. (Even if I did, what do I know? I’m a kid, cigarettes are healthy, alcohol cures diseases and so on.) It was fun, though, that much I can say. Kind of like our Tom, I was the helper: my role was to show the newcomers how to play the game. In return, I would get a glass of Fanta or Coca-Cola and, around 8 PM, be forced off to my room. After a while, I couldn’t go to bed anymore without hearing that darn Troika dance in my head, but still, fun times.
Although there’s no obvious user manual for the game, the point of it was to gather as many points as you can, with four possible bonuses at the end of each round: Singles, Doubles, Triples and Tetris. Each of them represented the amount of lines you cleared, with Singles being the lowest one, and Tetris being the highest one – four lines cleared at once. In return, you would get more bonus points and, thus, a higher score at the end.
Now, why do I still remember it, although I didn’t play the game ever since?
Well, that drinking game revolved heavily around the bonus points and who got how many lines, so yelling TETRIS was a thing. As I said, things are a bit fuzzy, but I clearly remember having sleepless nights because I could hear them yelling every friggin’ minute.
This was back in the early 90s. Now, 30 years later, there’s a new game around the block (see what I did there?) called Tetris Effect. As the latest iteration of the game, it doesn’t only offer a revamped interface, but also some new features, one of them being a new set of bonuses given at the end of the match.
So, what is bigger than Tetris? The Decahexatris, of course!
The trailer above shows you what the game looks like. What it doesn’t do is explain how the new “Zone” works. Basically, by actively clearing lines, you’re filling up the Zone in your lower left corner. Once you’ve done enough filling, you can activate “the Zone” by pushing the triggers on your PS4 controller. In return, the time stops and you’re rushing to clear as many lines as possible until the Zone runs out of ink.
Once you’ve created enough space to clear 16 lines, you’ll achieve the highest bonus of the game, called… *drumroll* the decahexatris. It’s a term invented by the Tetris developers, and you’ll see that no dictionary anywhere can make sense of it, although I at least hope that the Urban Dictionary will catch up. (Update: Yep, they finally included it. You can find it here: https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Decahexatris).
Now, although the Troika-themed drinking nights aren’t exactly my favorite childhood memories, I do miss seeing my parents have fun with video games, and I can imagine them enjoying this new version of Tetris. Heck, maybe they’d even combine it with a VR set and create their own little way of dealing with the bonus points: extra drinks and yell decahexatris.
As it stands, though, I’m more likely to introduce the game to my kids instead. If and when I do that, I’ll be sure to skip the nicotine and booze, though.