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Tetris (NES, Nintendo)

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Title Screen


Developer: Nintendo R&D1
Publishers: Nintendo, Hyundai (KR)
Platform: NES
Released in US: November 1989
Released in EU: February 23, 1990
Released in KR: 1990
Released in AS: 1990

CodeIcon.png This game has unused code.
MinigameIcon.png This game has unused modes / minigames.
GraphicsIcon.png This game has unused graphics.
MusicIcon.png This game has unused music.
RegionIcon.png This game has regional differences.

DCIcon.png This game has a Data Crystal page

Nintendo's Tetris for the NES is the system's third port of the famous puzzle game created by Alexey Pajitnov, following those of Bullet-Proof Software's Famicom port and Tengen's unlicensed NES port, and is by far the most well-known of the three. This NES version released 3 months after Nintendo's Game Boy version in North America.

In recent years, this particular version of Tetris is the go-to version used in competitive play with the Classic Tetris World Championship hosting competitions since 2010. Players have also discovered new ways of playing such as rolling the back of the controller to move Tetrominoes faster.[1] This playstyle would ultimately result in a 13-year-old player "beating the game" by crashing the game at level 157.[2]

A classic mode would be featured in Tetris Effectː Connected which is based on this version of Tetris.

Unused Sprites


An airplane and helicopter can be found among the ending sprites. These aren't used in any of the endings of the game.

Airplane Chopper full

They do have valid sprite indices, and can be made to appear via hacking. To see the airplane, use Game Genie code AUYZLY (US version) or ALAXSA (European version) and finish a Level 0 B-Type game. To see the helicopter, use the code TOYZLY (US version) or TPAXSA (European version) instead. The helicopter skids are cut off in-game due to a programming error and are thus unused, but the main and tail rotors are nicely animated.

To do:
When using the code TOYZLY or TPAXSA above, the palette of the helicopter does not match the image above.

(Source: Applying Artificial Intelligence to Nintendo Tetris, Qalle (the codes))

Unused Music

US Europe

The first track in the NSF is unused, and was presumably intended for the title screen (which is normally silent). It can be heard by setting RAM address $6F5 to 01 at any time. Alternately, use Game Genie code PEIAZI (US Version) or PESAZI (European Version) to replace music type 1 with this track.

The European version doesn't play the song correctly, meaning the notes go out of sync. In particular, the drum track is faster than it should be.

Two-Player Mode

Head-to-head glitching action!

Setting RAM address $BE to 02 (or using Game Genie code ZALAPP) activates an unfinished two-player competitive mode, a rather surprising omission that was present in Tengen's rendition. The basic rules are in place and garbage attacks are fully implemented, but there are numerous issues:

  • A-Type setup/high score screen is missing a large chunk of tiles.
  • Both game types have empty high score tables.
  • Standard 1P mode screen layout is always used (no 2P mode layout exists in the ROM).
  • Next piece displayed in wrong location.
  • Colors are glitchy.
  • Music alternates between fast and slow when one player nears the top of the playfield.
  • Crashes to copyright screen when game is over (uses invalid pointer table index 09; maximum is 08).

Leftover Demo Recording Code

The game has an unused subroutine that records the player's input for use in the gameplay demo. This subroutine is activated when $00D0 in RAM is set to $FF. However, since the game tries to write the captured inputs directly to ROM ($DD00-$DEFF), it doesn't work correctly on actual NES hardware or unmodified emulators. This area may have been mapped to PRG-RAM during development, similar to Dr. Mario.

(Source: Applying Artificial Intelligence to Nintendo Tetris)

Regional Differences

The European version has cheats not present in the US version. To activate the cheats, hold Select while a piece is landing. In A-Type, you get 10,000 points. In B-Type, you get "Success" and instantly finish the level.