When it comes to the pick-up and play design of Tetris, few games can really compete. Whether you're waiting for a doctor's appointment or commuting to work, it's the perfect game to kill some time, either on your phone or on your Game Boy if you're feeling nostalgic.
Perhaps recognizing this, an independent creator named Ampersand has developed what seems to be an elegant solution to those times when your phone runs out of charge or you don't feel like lugging around a plastic brick.
The Asterisk (as spotted by Gizmodo) is a small falling-block style gizmo measuring just 4cm, making it the perfect travel-sized companion. Its screen is only 0.91 inches long, and it is powered by a CR2032 battery that can be inserted onto the back of its asterisk-shaped PCB which gives it its name. It also comes with four buttons: two to move the blocks left and right, one to rotate, and another to drop. The device is currently on sale on Tindie for $20 but is unfortunately sold out at the moment. Nevertheless, it's one to watch if you often find yourself waiting around with nothing to do.
It should be mentioned the release of this device comes at a bit of a fraught time for Tetris clone creators. Recently Itch.io's creator Leaf Corcoran revealed on Twitter that The Tetris Company had submitted a vague takedown request for a game on the platform due to its similarity to Tetris. According to this tweet by Corcoran, in this instance, the company's complaints were: "the design and movement of the playing pieces including downward, lateral and rotating movement", "the individually delineated squares within the pieces", and "the dimensions of the playing field" being "longer than it is wide."
It remains to be seen whether the Asterisk will be swept up in all this, but we hope not, as the itty-bitty machine appears to have some incredibly inventive ideas of its own like its unique shape, minimalist visuals, and four-button layout.