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34 years later, someone has finally beaten NES Tetris by reaching its "True Killscreen"

Happy New Year, here’s a child doing a thing!

Blue Scuti reaching NES Tetris' True Killscreen.
Image credit: VG247/Nintendo/Blue Scuti

In the news that we all expected to greet us as we crossed the threshold into 2024, the classic NES version of Tetris has finally been ‘beaten’ for the first time by a very skilled 13-year-old.

No we’re not kidding, a game that came out back in 1989 and seemingly hadn’t been defeated by a single person in verifiable fashion since that point was finally forced into submission during the dying days of 2023. That’s fairly literal submission too, given that victory was secured by making it crash in climactic fashion.

The grizzled gaming veteran who managed to reach its “True Killscreen”, which according to one ResetEra user “was thought to be unreachable for decades” is streamer and Tetris expert Blue Scuti. They somehow managed to become the first player in recorded history to reach level 157 in the game, which is the point at which this mythical crash occurs, seemingly as the game tries to compute the idea of someone devoting that much time and energy to Tetris.

You can watch the entire 40 minute or so long playthrough that saw Blue Scuti, whose real name is Willis, manage to achieve the feat in this video, which was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of the Classic Tetris World Championships, which I didn't know was a thing until today. It’s well worth sitting through the entire thing, as the changing colours and 8-bit ambiance are quite pleasant.

In an interview at the end of the video Blue Scuti explains that the desire to achieve the crash came out of a previous world record Tetris run and a desire to beat 2023 NES Tetris champion fractal161 to achieving it. “I was only about 18 lines (off the crash mark),” said the streamer, “and, you know, I just thought if I was so close I might as well race him for it.”

He revealed the most difficult aspect of the run was “when the nerves started kicking in after like 30 minutes of play”, explaining that at that point: “you miss one five-tap and the run can end”. In terms of levels, Blue Scuti added that level 146 is the most difficult in his experience, due to the fact its colour palette makes the blocks hard to see on the monitor he uses.

If you want to get an idea of what makes the reaching of the game’s “True Killscreen” such a landmark achievement, it’s worth checking out this video from YouTuber aGameScout.

The big question now is what the next big milestone that Tetris aces can gun for will be, with aGameScout suggesting that runs using external tools to simulate what would happen if a player could avoid the level 157 crash and reach the game’s true final stage, level 255, have shown the way. So, now we wait for someone to manage to reach that point and beat it without triggering their demise.

We might be here a while, so check out our other Nintendo coverage while you wait.

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