Tetris Sequel 'Tetris Reversed' Shown Off For The First Time Ever 1
Image: Damien McFerran / Time Extension

When Tetris became a pack-in title for the Nintendo Game Boy in 1989, it also became a global smash hit, selling millions of copies and establishing itself as the world's favourite puzzle video game.

Its success also created the desire for a sequel, and while we got spin-offs like Hatris, Welltris and Wordtris – as well as iterative follow-ups such as Tetris 2, Tetris DS and, more recently, Tetris Effect – it's now become apparent that there's another sequel to the game was never actually realised (thanks, GamesBeat).

The story began when Croatian developer Vedran Klanac attended the NLGD Festival of Games in The Netherlands in 2011. After hearing Guerrilla Games' Martin de Ronde discussion on the "OneBigGame" project – an attempt to leverage the work of famous designers for good causes – Klanac offered his help; De Ronde would reply several months later, saying he had an agreement with Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov about creating a prototype for a brand-new Tetris game. Predictably, Klanac jumped at the chance to work with such a legendary figure.

Speaking in a recent panel at GDC, Pajitnov revealed that De Ronde served as the middle-man between himself and Klanac – the pair never actually met. The game itself retains many of the core rules of Tetris but is more about using all of the available space in the play field rather than just focusing on dropping pieces into the bottom and clearing them.

The project was known as Tetris Reversed, and during the GDC panel, Pajitnov explained how it worked:

Most of the players all concentrate just on the profile in the game. All that matters is the profile of the garbabe in the playfield. The placement of the specific pieces in Tetris. If you remember similar board game, the player tries to use all of the space. I thought maybe this could be done, to attempt to use all of the playfield. I found a way to do it by reversing the game. Instead of putting the pieces in the playfield, I used them to eat the items in the game. That was the main concept of the game.

A prototype was created within a month, with De Ronde passing design instructions from Pajitnov to Klanac, who created the game's code in his own engine in his spare time.

The bulk of the work took place between March and November of 2012. However, as the year came to an end, the project ran out of steam. Three years would pass without any further development taking place, leading Pajitnov himself to assume that Tetris Reversed was effectively dead and the prototype lost.

Tetris Sequel 'Tetris Reversed' Shown Off For The First Time Ever 4
Image: GamesBeat

Thankfully, that's not quite the end of the story. Business development professional Vlad Micu managed to bring Pajitnov and Klanac together for the first time at GDC 2024 after learning from the latter that he still had the prototype of the game in his personal archives. The result was a special panel which included Kate Edwards, Vlad Micu, Alexey Pajitnov and Vedran Klanac – the four key figures in the prototype's revival.

Pajitnov has welcomed the game's resurrection, and seems hopeful that it might go beyond simply being a prototype:

When you see the gameplay video, and when you look at the design elements. This is Tetris for like 300 IQ people, I had almost completely forgotten about its existence. Basically, it’s another version of Tetris,” said Pajitnov. I’m sure there is going to be enormous interest as there is a new prototype that people don’t know anything about.

[source venturebeat.com]