In a groundbreaking achievement, 13-year-old Willis Gibson, known as “blue scuti” in the gaming community, has officially “beaten” the original Nintendo version of Tetris by reaching a coveted milestone called a “kill screen.” Willis triggered this glitch on Level 157, causing the Tetris code to crash and the game to come to an unexpected end. While traditional high scores may not apply in this context, the accomplishment is highly significant in the world of video games, where players strive to push the limits of both hardware and software.
The Journey to the Kill Screen Victory
Tetris, a falling-block video game, has been a challenging adversary for players due to its endless nature. The absence of a scripted ending led top players to continuously extend their gameplay, reaching higher levels. However, the game was considered unbeatable until Willis achieved a kill screen on December 21, 2023.
Willis triggered the glitch at Level 157, marking a victory over the game itself and demonstrating an ability to surpass its intended limits. This accomplishment has been recognized by the makers of Tetris, with CEO Maya Rogers congratulating Willis for achieving an “extraordinary accomplishment” that defies the preconceived limits of the legendary game.
Tetris’ Evolution and Challenges for Players
Over the years, the Tetris community faced challenges in reaching higher levels. Early on, players struggled to surpass Level 29, where the falling blocks outpaced the in-game controller’s response. Techniques like “hypertapping” emerged, allowing players to move the controller faster than the game’s speed, eventually reaching Level 35 by 2018.
In 2020, a technique called “rolling” combined with a multifinger approach enabled players to reach Level 95. However, as players approached higher levels, unexpected challenges arose, including issues with the color palette and the appearance of difficult block patterns like “Dusk” and “Charcoal.”
Mapping Game-Ending Glitches and Willis’ Record-breaking Run
The journey to conquering Tetris involved overcoming unforeseen obstacles and mapping out scenarios that could lead to game-ending glitches. Willis, inspired by the achievements of a Tetris-playing AI program called StackRabbit, embarked on a mission to explore potential crash conditions. StackRabbit had managed to reach Level 237 before crashing the game.
Willis’ record-breaking run involved a meticulous understanding of specific conditions that could trigger a kill screen. The effort included compiling a spreadsheet detailing likely crash scenarios based on the game’s levels and specific conditions. The result was Willis’ historic achievement, reaching a kill screen on Level 157 and solidifying his place in the annals of Tetris history.
As Tetris approaches its 40th anniversary, Willis’ victory is hailed as a monumental achievement that showcases the ever-evolving landscape of video game accomplishments. The unexpected conclusion of Tetris at Level 157 by “blue scuti” adds a new chapter to the ongoing saga of players challenging the boundaries of iconic games.