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A comprehensive, deep dive into Tetris the Grandmaster (TGM) design, the hidden Japanese Tetris version you will never legally play

'sup.

As promised, here's a text discussing the minutae of Tetris the Grandmaster, its sequels, and the game mechanics of Tetris in general. If you want more, there's some market analysis, drama and politics in the comment.

Tetris the Grand Master is probably the most beautifully designed game I know. I hope you will share my passion for this when your are finished with this post.

Since Tetris is a "pure" videogame where pretty graphics and/or enticing plot is irrelevant to the game, this will focus a lot on the game mechanics.

Also: this is based on a draft script for a video I wanted to make for a while now. Presumably this thing would flow better with some illustrations at the same time. I tried to include some, but of course it's not the same as someone narrative over image.

Also: weird language ? Missing words ? Misplaced punctuation ? This probably comes from me, writing in English as a second language. Picture this article with a vaguely French accent if it helps (although I'm not actually French).

I am aware of Tetris Effect. I am happy if people find TE a transformative transcendental synesthetic experience, but for this matter I much prefer Rez and particularly its Area X.

So: make yourself comfortable, get a hot beverage of your choice, perhaps enable the reader mode in your browser and prepare for a 4k-ish words long read.


Tetris, the arcade game

Tetris. The little game from the Soviet Union, the killer app of the Gameboy, and until Minecraft happened the most sold computer game of all time.

Despite its tremendous success, the general perception is that this title has not evolved since its initial release in 1984. We would effectively be playing the same game plus-or-minus some gimmicks and/or yearly graphical updates.

This is of course false. The evolution of Tetris game mechanics is a story for another time, but the skinny version is that there's two main branch to the Tetris tree: Nintendo, and Sega. What I want to talk about now is a representative of the Sega branch.

Did you know ? Sega means "Service Game". The company we know today as a publisher with a blue mascot originally sold arcade games. And even today, Sega has a strong presence in the arcade world.

Tetris the Grandmaster is an arcade game, made by Arika, a company made by ex-Capcom employee whose more notable works at the time include Street Fighter Ex.
Arcade game design is a delicate juggling act between two parties:

  • the game operator: wants money, and for single player game that could mean a short and/or difficult game.
  • the player: wants fun. If the game is too difficult and/or unfair and/or incomprehensible, he or she will move to the next game

With this definition, vanilla Tetris is a pretty good arcade game:

As you play the game, the game ramps up in speed and consequently its difficulty. But it never feels unfair: you may complain having bad luck and getting a crappy piece distribution (more on that later), you are still responsible for that terrible stack you just made.

However, there's a finite limit to the speed of the game. Past a certain point, you end up in a kill-screen where it is impossible to play. The piece just falls and lock immediately, with you being powerless, unable to do anything.

How lock delay extend the base game

Video: Godlike high gravity NES Tetris game from JdMfX_, Godlike high TGM game from 777

What is remarkable with Tetris the Grandmaster is not only it has found a way to extend the base game past this seemingly hardcoded limit, but it also focus nearly all of its design toward this idea of speed. Speed is the focus of the game, and if you don't believe this, there's a giant chronometer at the bottom of the screen acting as a constant reminder.

So, how do you survive to the kill screen?

You could try to make the piece move faster (which they did) but this is not enough. At some point, the piece will still spawn on the ground and immediately lock.

Enter the Lock Delay.

Illustration: lock delay

Lock delay is the mechanic in which if a piece falls into the ground or the stack, it will not immediately lock but can react to play inputs and "slide" for a few frames before locking into the stack.

This has deep, deep consequences.

Obviously, you can make the game faster than anything we've seen before. All the while still have a viable game. At maximum speed, or "20G" as it is known in the jargon, the piece directly spawns on the stack without floating at any point in the air.

for the pedant: historically, Sega Tetris was the one of the first game to feature lock delay; and the mechanics was already there in some other falling blocks game such as Puyo Puyo.

At high speed, and especially at 20G speed, the piece movement becomes severely limited. Having the game viable at 20G completely re-contextualize the game, its moment-to-moment tactics and its general strategy. Not only you have to think about a given piece placement, but more than ever you have to take the next piece into account. Some sub-optimal piece placement or "bridges" have to be made in order to make the whole game continue.

Illustrations: possible piece placement at 2G, at 20G, at 20G with a bridge

And thus: while the core gameplay stays the same, the game becomes more demanding both physically and mentally. You have to react faster and input your command quickly and confidently; and at the same time you have to constantly think about your stack, the area where work is needed and how you can accommodate unwanted pieces. You can even manually control the pace of the game by cancelling the lock delay (done very naturally by pressing down.)

Lock delay is probably the most important game element added to Tetris, but it's not the only thing in which TGM also innovates. Several other additional mechanics exists, and they have this common idea of a "speed enabler". Let's review them:

"Speed enablers" game mechanics

DAS

I mentioned earlier that the way you move the pieces was faster. This seems like a straightforward thing to do at first sight but there's some subtleties hidden in it.

So: when you hold left or right, the piece moves automatically (in the jargon it's called DAS - Delayed Auto-Shift). It's a nice and natural movement akin to letting a key down in your keyboard, but there's actually two parameters to take into account.
First, how fast the auto movement is triggered, and second, then how fast the repeat itself is. In TGM, both happens at a brisk space (16 frames before auto-movement, and a movement of 1 case per frame). This is essential for 20G play. And, in the context of 20G, the DAS enable a family of movement techniques called autosynchrothat bring additional depth to the game.

manual synchro also exists, but requires significantly more skill, as it requires a 1-frame combination. Yup, just like in fighting games and their 1-frame links!

Wallkicks

There is another mechanic that involve automatic movement, called wallkick. A wallkick happen when you try to rotate a piece near a blocked cell, such as the stack or a wall. Normally, if the rotation mask overlap a blocked cell, the rotation will fail. However with wallkicks, the piece can automatically move so that the rotation can still happen. In modern standard Tetris, the rule of how the piece move is quite complicated (to my eyes) but enable advanced placement such as the infamous T-Spin Triple. In TGM however, it's dead simple: try to move one case toe the right or one case to the left in that order, and if the piece fits, it gets moved.

Illustration: wallkick

So yes: at first sight those wallkicks are concessions given to player that make the game easier. However, some advanced movement techniques takes advantage of wallkicks. The goal of course is to move a piece faster, leading to tiny but compounding time saves.^†

in the jargon, optimal piece movement is called finesse

IRS

Continuing on the theme of rotation, let's now talk about the Initial Rotation System or IRS. So in most game, when a piece is locked, the next one immediately enters the playfield.
This is not the case with TGM: there's a tiny interval in which nothing happens (except perhaps a line clear animation). .

of course there's a jargon term for this: it's called ARE††
†† it's not an acronym, it literally means "that thing" in Japanese (あれ)

This interval have a dual purpose (Mark Brown would be happy): first, it serves as a buffer to charge the DAS. But it is not limited to rotation: you can also charge a rotation.

And that is what IRS exactly is: press a rotation button during this time and then the piece will spawn already rotated .

IRS usefulness is not only limited to make the game smoother to play: it solves a problem inherent to Sega Tetris. All game in that lineage have most piece spawning with a pointy end toward the ground. This can be problematic in high gravity, and especially in 20G. If you IRS such pieces, you can then confidently slide them to the side without worry of them being stuck somewhere.

Illustration: trapped without IRS, saved with IRS

why not having them spawn flat-side down ? I think this is partly for historical reason (establish a clear lineage with Sega Tetris), but also because this this extra-difficulty is coherent with an arcade game design.

And yes, of course, IRS is also a time saving measure, helping to shave some milliseconds here and there.

TGM history-based randomizer

Let's talk luck. Earlier on, I half-jokingly said that "luck" as a hallmark of a good game of Tetris. Well it is a bit more profound than that.
Any competitive Smash player can tell you this: consistency is king in a competitive game. That's why random event affecting the core gameplay are frown upon, and that's why tripping in Smash Brawl was so negatively received.
You can probably see where I'm getting at: there's one giant thing in Tetris that's by definition random: the way the piece sequence is generated. And yes, TGM has a optimized random generator, and in fact most Tetris game have one.

An analysis of the history of the different random generator is a story for another time, but here's the gist of it:

In a purely random sequence of pieces, a sufficiently long series of S and Z tetraminos is bound to appear. Such sequences is mathematically proven to lead in a game over. Of course, this doesn't happen in practice. Especially in TGM, there's a finite number of piece given and thus the change of that happening is infinitesimally small.
However this does gives us insight about the piece distribution: flood (too much of a piece) and drought (not enough of a piece) is not fun. In other word, waiting for that g!%d!3mn long bar piece sucks.

So how does TGM counteracts this ? It implements a history system that prevent recently given piece to be distributed again. This is a flood prevention measure and make the game much more consistent while still having an element of unpredictability. And being unpredictable is not necessarily a bad thing, particularly in an arcade context where you still want the player to finish the game eventually. Fun trivia: modern standard Tetris nowadays implement an extremely predictable randomizer, which is mathematically proven to be infinitely playable at low gravity††.

historically TGM is not the first game to implement a history system, there was already a rudimentary one in NES Tetris
†† this is less of a problem in recent years due to the focus on multiplayer, enabling stuff like openers, but this is a story for another time

Consistency in randomness is not directly tied to the notion of speed, but being confident in that you will not screwed by the piece distribution definitely helps in the elaboration of reliable strategies.

The graphics helps too

Illustration: An actual screenshot of TGM

So far I've describe how the game is mechanically inclined toward speed, but aesthetically there's also some elements that are helps during high speed games.

First, look at what the stack and notice how the active piece contrasts with the rest of the stack. There's a clarity of graphics that comes not only by the fact that the locked pieces have a darker hue, but also because of the of this white border that surrounds the stack. The goal is to have an instantly readable playfield.

Continuing on this trend, each piece type is color coded so you can instantly read what you're getting by using your peripheral vision, leaving the focus clear on the stack. You can then more easily confirm the placement of your current piece, which is further helped by a very noticeable flash.

The next-piece window is also aligned so that the piece previewed is placed directly above where it will spawn. This unconsciously helps the tactical decision of where to put your piece. Speaking of unconscious effect, the whole series have this auditory gimmick in which each pieces have its own jingle. From what I know, nobody use this consciously, even the one that can tackle the invisible challenge (more on the invisible challenge later).

Scoring, grading, and speedrunning

So we've seen the mechanics and the aesthetics of speed within TGM.

But what would would be an arcade game without a good I piece measuring contest ?

TGM has three metrics exposed to the player: Score-grades, level and time.

Time is a straightforward metric, and is the main point of comparison for players having reached the Gm grade. Finishing the game under 13 minutes is ok, under 12 min is pretty good, under 10min is exceptionally good, and approaching 9min is godlike.

Score, as in most videogame is a measure of how "good" you are at the game, but takes here a subtly different meaning. The exact detail of the scoring system is not super interesting to see, but its implication is. Let me explain:

here : Score = (roundUp((Level + Lines)/4) + Soft) × Lines × Combo × Bravo ; Combo = Previous Combo value + (2×Lines) -2

The optimal strategy with this scoring system is to clear as much line as the same time as possible. In order words, Tetris, triples and even doublesmakes a lot of points, whereas Singles proportionally don't score as much points.

Tetris: four line cleared at the same time; triple: three lines cleared at the same time; double: two lines cleared at the same ; single: one line cleared

This has an interesting side effect, as it incentivize to have a clean stack. A clean stack is a stack without holes. If there's holes in your stack, and particularly in they are all over the place, you tend clean them by performing singles. Sidenote: in TGM1, grade is directly correlated with score, except for the titular last grade, which is gatekeeped by some time requirements.

So in TGM, the score still describe how "well" you play, but you may have noticed that there's no notion of time at all. I would argue that scoring here doesn't reflect how "well" you play but rather how "clean" you play. Keep that in mind for later.

To be perfectly pedant there's the level factor in the equation that would incentivise you to play fast to reach high-yielding level as fast as possible. But please don't ruin my narrative.

I mentioned just before that the last grade had some time requirements. Now, this is a perfectly reasonable requirement for a game that is focused on speed but, and I guess you are used to me saying that, there's some subtleties to it.

Let's say the only requirement to get the last grade would be to reach X amount of point in Y amount of time, and reaching the last level. A viable strategy would be then to play as clean as possible so that you reach the point threshold, and then you just have to survive. This would mean that in that last part can play as sloppy as you want, you will still reach the Gm grade. That's, of course, not ideal as it doesn't push the player to play at its maximum (you can cheese the last part).

What TGM did is neat and two-fold: First, it takes the "level" metric, which was until then a measure of how fast the game is, and turned it into a progression gauge. So you know that at level 100 you are at the beginning of the game, 500 is midgame and 900 is the last push. The gravity is still tied to the level, so at level 0 it's quite slow and at 300 it's significantly faster. But the thing doesn't have to be linear or monotonic, in fact there's a speedbump at level 200 (people told me it's for dramatic effect), and maximum speed is reached at level 500 (to let the new 20G gameplay shine.)

Now here's the catch: you can progress faster in the game by clearing lines. Indeed, the way you gain level is that you increase the counter by one each time you land a piece, but more interestingly you get a bonus level for each line cleared.

This ties everything together: if you want to play fast you have to play well, and if you play well the game will get faster.

This positive feedback loop is in fact a system with dynamic difficulty curve: as good players will be presented with a more appropriate challenge faster, as more novice player will get challenged at their pace.

So there you have it: even the scoring system is meant to go fast. Isn't that beautiful ?

The sequels

There were two sequels to TGM.

The first one, known as TAP within the community because of the subtitle of the final version of the game ("The Absolute Plus"), builds on the building block of the first. There's now a dedicated 20G mode with a brutal speedcurve to it (it is, after all, named "Death" mode). For the main game (now called "Master" mode), there's a much appreciated addition of an instant drop. This significantly speeds up the pre-20G game. The point system is now decoupled from the grade, and a secondary but hidden point system is used to calculate the player grade. The detail of which is complex, but the take-away effect is that consistency of play is now taken into account.

Video: a a TAP Gm game recorded during a livestream

The second sequel is known in the community as Ti (again with the subtitle: Terror instinct). It had implements some gameplay elements mandated by the Tetris Company: three pieces preview, a "hold" function, and floorkicks (i.e. piece can always rotate on the ground even if it collides with it). As a happy accident, this enabled TGM to go the even higher, borderline absurd, speed. I want you to look at the sheer insanity of the Death Mode's replacement: Shirase. And then look toward the end of the run where pieces turns into brackets (a nod to the real original Electronica60 version), nullifying the convenience of both color-coded pieces as well at the white-border. It's glorious.

Video: Cleared Shirase game by KevinDDR, the best Western TGM player.

Now, on the Master mode side, there's two major changes: there's a revamp of the progression/level system, where now the speedcurve itself becomes dynamic, and a further focus on consistency. You not only have to be consistent within a game, but also across games. Indeed, there's now an account system that is tied to an examination system. It inspects your performance and randomly challenges you with an special exam game in order to reach the grade it thinks you deserve.
The last grade is of course locked behind an exam, and is only reachable through that mean.

Additional challenges

Sprinkled around the main game are some additional challenges that are a bit adjacent to the main game.

Illustration: A secret grade pattern build by ohshisaure

There's a ">" pattern you can built within the game. Doing so will award you a "secret grade" depending on how complete your chevron is. This is a nod to TGM predecessor (Sega Tetris), where bored players in the arcades invented this challenge and became popular. This is totally optional to the game, but really challenge your creativity, a bit like the golden and silver block in The New Tetris.

Video: KevinDDR and crew performance at AGDQ2015

And then there's the infamous "invisible" challenge first appearing in TAP. It is in fact a mandatory requirement to get the Gm grade. If, and only if, you played well enough in the main game, you are then presented with the invisible challenge during the credit roll, in which you have to survive during 60 grueling seconds.
I don't know the whys of this challenge, but I assume this is an extrapolation coming from the following observation: when playing the game, most players are in fact not directly looking at the stack (to convince you, look at this eye-tracked demonstration).
Looking at the stack only serves as some sort a placement confirmation, and so there's somewhere a mental model of the playfield. The invisible challenge thus forces the player to exclusively rely on this pre-existing mental model.
Fun trivia: the credit order is randomized so that you can rely on the name to estimate how much time is left.

Conclusion

So that's it for this gameplay analysis.

Hopefully you'll understand now why some people play one or several of those games 15, 20 or 22 years after their releases. All games are still played and there's no "superior version" as each version has slightly different priorities on the theme of "speedy Tetris": Ti has raw speed, TGM is careful and methodical, and TAP is a happy medium between the two.

As a game designer, what general lessons can we learn from TGM ? I'm just a random dude on the internet, but let me suggest one:

"Brevity". I keep thinking back to a textual Let's Play I've read about the second addons of Neverwinter Nights 2 (Mask of the Betrayer) . During a story recap just before the game climax, Lt. Danger offers an analysis of the expansion and writes (highlight from me):

Instead let's focus in on what makes Mask good - and I think the answer ultimately boils down to 'brevity.'
[...]
Obsidian knew what they wanted to do with Mask and wrote it accordingly. Too often in games I find some puzzle, some encounter, that could have come from anywhere; the most egregious example is Bioware's reliance on the Towers of Hanoi puzzle (which thankfully has come to an end). There's too much that has barely anything to do with the premise or purpose of the story (if they bothered to have one at all). In Mask, though, I struggle to find wasted space. I've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating: there are no irrelevant sidequests. Every quest and every NPC ties back to the core themes in some way.

If, looking back at your game, you can say "it's a game about X, hence Y", you may be on to something.

That's why remakes and sequels that "go back to their roots" are generally perceived as positive. It's an change to remove cruft and focus on the core of the game. Take Zelda Breath of the Wild for instance. Zelda 1 was a game about adventure, exploration and mystery. Hence: very few handholding, an open world, and no limits to exploration.

Of course, super-concise game shouldn't be the ultimate guiding principle of any given game. Case in point: I recently finished Yakuza 0. This is an excellent, excellent game, yet in terms of gameplay and pacing, it is all over the place: one moment you are in a crime drama, and five minutes later you're managing a cabaret club, and 10 minutes later you're in a karaoke booth singing baka mitai Judgement with a biker costume at the end.

But brevity sure can sure made your game more elegant and enjoyable.

6 comments

  1. PetitPrince
    Link
    Conversation starter: What's the most concise game you know ? Why does the Yakuza series work so well while having gameplay and tone ADHD ?

    Conversation starter:

    • What's the most concise game you know ?
    • Why does the Yakuza series work so well while having gameplay and tone ADHD ?
    3 votes
  2. PetitPrince
    Link
    A rant about the need for a legit TGM port, and the differences between modern standard Tetris and TGM I went back and forth in adding this into the main part, but I ultimately decided to put it...

    A rant about the need for a legit TGM port, and the differences between modern standard Tetris and TGM

    I went back and forth in adding this into the main part, but I ultimately decided to put it in the comments. The world is enough of a messed place to burden you with other pointless selfish controversies.

    So: I will now rant for a while about Tetris politics and the place of the TGM in the current videogame landscape. Feel free to skip this part if you want; it's really outside of the scope of a TGM analysis, and somewhat in a negative tone.

    You may have noticed the second part of the title: "the hidden japanese Tetris version you will never legally play". It's clickbaity as hell and I take full responsibility for it.
    While my main goal when writing those thing was to the beauty of the game (hope I succeded), I had also an ulterior secret motive: I have some hope that this becomes super viral (and doing that in video form would probably help) so that there's having enough momentum and peer pressure to have those game ported on (ideally) PC.
    I have no doubt this will probably not happen; I still need to produce said video (and I have only a few video skill), having it picked up by the mighty algorithm; and I doubt there's enough popular pressure in this niche to can make the different actors of the Tetris world move the way I want. But please bear my delusion of grandeur for a while, at least there's some interesting technical and historical nuggets to learn.

    So: "Ported to PC" ? Indeed: TGM, TAP and Ti are arcade releases, based respectively on the Capcom ZN-2, Taito SH-2 and Taito Type-X arcade systems.

    This shouldn't be difficult.

    The Capcom ZN-2 is basically a beefed up Playstation; the Taito SH-2 is a 2D only systen; and the Taito Type-X is basically a Windows XP machine. TGM emulation is good enough, TAP is nearly arcade-perfect, and you can find bootlegged and hacked version of TGM3 on shady websites (don't ask me please).

    But for some obscure reasons TGM was never released outside of the arcade. There's some evidence of a PS2 port of TAP at some point, but it got canceled.

    "But hey, PetitPrince, there's TGM Ace on the Xbox 360!".

    for the pedant: yes, there's also Tetris with Cardcaptor Sakura Eternal Heart. But this is not a TGM and barely a Tetris game either.

    sigh

    First, we're talking about a region-locked release on an old console, said console being an Xbox console in Japan. Asking for an Xbox in Japan is like asking for a vegan option in a meat festival. This may exists somewhere, but otherwise WTF dude. For reference, at some point during the worldwide heyday of the console, Microsoft sold 100 Xbox One units per week in Japan. That's 100 total, not 100 thousands. By comparison, the Wii U (remember the Wii U ? The "failed" Nintendo console ?) numbers were at 16k, and even the PlayStation Vita TV sold 5 (five!) time more.

    Second, this was a bastardized version of TGM. There's no familiar Master or 20G modes, but rather bizarre modes were based on clear lines instead of level. Worse: while all the subtleties of game system I described above was still present, there were several egregious decision made to make the game more compliant with the other games from the Tetris Company. Some are minor (changing the piece color), some are mildly infuriating (changing the instant drop from non-locking to locking, which significantly some strategy pre-20G), some sounds like a cashgrab (you need an Xbox live Gold account to access some single player content) but the most damning one was to change the lock delay behavior from step reset to move reset.

    There's two behaviors possible with lock delay: either you reset the time each time the piece fall (step reset), or whenever the piece move or rotate (move reset). The latter is standard amongst other official game, but make the game significantly easier and, well, less arcade-y and more console-y.

    Is this an elitist remark ? Probably, but from a series of game whose mode are called "Death" and something akin to "Despair" (Shirase), difficulty is something to be expected.

    So: TGM Ace doesn't count.

    At this point we need to talk about the Tetris Company and the guideline rules. After its creation in the mid-90s (I don't have the exact date in mind, look at the Game Historian video or watch that BBC documentary), the Tetris Company sought to get Tetris standardized by publishing a guideline document describing all of the base game mechanics. This "guideline" ruleset is not based on the Sega branch, but rather the Nintendo branch (make sense if you think about the wildly popular NES version and the system seller Gameboy version). And this ruleset is imposed in some form to each and every game willing to have the word "Tetris" in its title.

    And so I don't want some a diluted TGM experience that piggies back on top of this guideline system. Thanks to effort of the community, like the showcase on AGDQ, more and more people are aware of TGM, including some game developers.
    But often times they only take surface gimmicks (invisible mode ! 20G mode !) of TGM and put them in their game without understanding the finer points of the whole experience. For instance, in the late Master mode of the PS4 version of Tetris Effect, the DAS start up was not scaling as lock delay become shorter (it doesn't not in TGM, but does in TAP where the overall game is also faser), so you were reduced to either mash the button or exploit the move reset behavior by doing some unecessary rotation (this was patched later on).

    I don't want to appear as someone who spit on the guideline ruleset (even though I was when I was a teenager). It has its place, particularly in multiplayer as we have seen with the recent sucess of Puyo Puyo Tetris and especially Tetris 99 (fun fact: Tetris 99 was made by Arika !).
    In fact I do enjoy a lot the thrill of Tetris 99, and I find the over-predictability of the randomizer in this context not a weakness but a strength, as that enables opener setup like in chess (I'm not good enough to perform a perfect clear opening each time but I do like a good DT Canon when the opportunity arise). I have this part of my mind wired to do T-spin doubles whenever I can.

    But they are some key differences that make the guideline ruleset ill-suited for the kind of experience we TGM players want.

    I think it boils down to intrinsic vs extrinsic speed. You see, the guideline ruleset is rather lenient toward the player: The move reset behavior, the bizarre wallkicks that let pieces climb over the stack, the flat initial orientation of the piece. All of this points toward a game that want to help the player as much as it can.This let the player express himself at his own pace. And this includes playing at high speed if the player wish to. There is indeed some jaw-dropping performance in the 40 lines sprint department, on par with a good Shirase game. But there's a key difference: this speed comes from the player itself, not forced upon by the game and conquered by the player. Most guidelines games will never forces upon such player extreme speed.

    This is the Dark Souls style of game design: here's some useful tools, and here's a challenge. I will not help you. Can you overcome it ?

    I know the using Dark Souls as an example is an overused trope at this point, and that the "git gud" mentality can be dismissive and even toxic, but I think it does relate to the arcade game equilibrium I mentionned earlier.

    There's a soft spot of perfect difficulty and skill level; you probably know this as the flow state. I would argue that while the optimal difficulty is different for everyone, for a significant portion of gamer the difficulty level is quite high. And that is because this population is used to play regularly, with the same regularity as Japanese gamers in the golden age of arcade.

    I think there's a real business opportunity TGM and arcade games. We live in the age were Celeste was able ton win numerous awards. It's a game that's not shy to embrace its difficulty. Dark Souls is a household name. There's never been more pixel-perfect Kaizo Mario level in existence, thanks to Mario Maker. There is a niche for everyone, and some people are not afraid of arcade-difficult games.

    I'd like TGM to be more popular and actually played instead of showcased. This would mean a legal port, because regular arcade is basically dead.

    2 votes
  3. [4]
    knocklessmonster
    (edited )
    Link
    I don't even know where to start here. I guess the randomizer, because that's one of my points of interest in different games: I thought NES was completely random. Is the TGM randomizer what we...

    I don't even know where to start here.

    I guess the randomizer, because that's one of my points of interest in different games: I thought NES was completely random. Is the TGM randomizer what we think of today as 7-bag, or is it something different?

    I've had the pleasure of playing Ti at Ground Kontrol in Portland, OR. Unfortunately the thrill was slightly lost on me as I'm not great at TGM, and can't really commit to it. I just wanted to lay my hands on the cabinet, to be honest. I like the idea of IRS, the floor kicks and lock delay are great, and ARIKA really changed the game with TGM. I'm also in full agreement that we need a legit TGM PC version, I would buy it, and I would get good at it.

    I would argue that while the optimal difficulty is different for everyone, for a significant portion of gamer the difficulty level is quite high.

    I think you're on the ball from a gameplay standpoint. Anything beyond the regular mode is nuts. I tried the more advanced modes on that Ti cabinet because I didn't know when I'd be able to again, and I was completely lost, even though I knew what they were. I've played them in Nullpomino, and I just can't get into it. I'll grind some classic or guideline, though.

    To me, TGM feels like the awkward pubescent Tetris, trying to figure out where it's going to go before it blossoms into an adult, but I think a large part of that is access. IRS is interesting (but disapapeared?), the floorkick is, I think, a defining feature of guideline, and floor/wallkicks completely revolutionized the game when they were introduced (Sega?). I would love to see it become more available, because at least even casual Tetris fans (like myself) would be able to enjoy it to a larger extent. I'm also concerned that it's difficult enough that it wouldn't take off so well, but it would definitely have its adherents.

    2 votes
    1. [3]
      PetitPrince
      Link Parent
      Long ago I thought that as well, but it turns out NES and TGM are somewhat related in that they're history based randomizer. Also: I'm pretty sure someone disassembly NES Tetris to get the exact...

      I guess the randomizer, because that's one of my points of interest in different games: I thought NES was completely random. Is the TGM randomizer what we think of today as 7-bag, or is it something different?

      Long ago I thought that as well, but it turns out NES and TGM are somewhat related in that they're history based randomizer. Also: I'm pretty sure someone disassembly NES Tetris to get the exact flavor of PRNG, but that's probably irrelevant to the current discussion. 7-bag is a totally different beast. Here's a blog article about an overview of them (it include code snippet).

      So:

      • NES Tetris rerolls the dice there's an identical piece in its 1-piece long memory.
      • TGM rerolls the dice there's an identical piece in its 4-piece long memory.
      • 7-bag deplete a set of 7 distinct pieces

      I think you're on the ball from a gameplay standpoint. Anything beyond the regular mode is nuts
      Ah, I misexplained myself. I meant to say "the skill level of the average gamer is surprisingly high".

      To me, TGM feels like the awkward pubescent Tetris [...]
      Uh, curious that you feel that, I feel exactly the same. Over the three (four, I you count Sega Tetris) Arika had many years worth of play-testing by just watching people play in the arcade, so they can really tweak the gameplay. Whereas for guideline games, I feel that for most guideline games, the developers got sent the guideline file, then have to implement it without realizing its nut and bolt, then implement their own ideas. I strongly feel this was the case for Tetris Effect (I had this feeling when listening to one of the director (Mark Macdonald, not Tetsuya Mizuguchi) talking about the game in the 8-4 podcast)).

      About IRS and flookicks: IRS exists in all versions of TGM; floorkick only in TGM3.

      for clarity sake:

      • TGM = TGM1, or the series as a whole
      • TAP = TGM2
      • Ti = TGM3

      I tried the more advanced modes on that Ti cabinet because I didn't know when I'd be able to again, and I was completely lost
      Where do you feel being lost ?

      1. [2]
        knocklessmonster
        Link Parent
        It might have been Shirase? The mode in Ti where everything lands instantly. I actually found one of your guides on how to build for it the other day, which would have helped. I sort of just...

        Where do you feel being lost ?

        It might have been Shirase? The mode in Ti where everything lands instantly. I actually found one of your guides on how to build for it the other day, which would have helped. I sort of just started locking up because the pieces were just dropping in.

        1. PetitPrince
          Link Parent
          Ah yes, those modes can be brutal. If this was a console/pc game, I would lock these mode behind an achievement so that the player would know what is going to hit him. Or at least a warning that...

          Ah yes, those modes can be brutal.

          If this was a console/pc game, I would lock these mode behind an achievement so that the player would know what is going to hit him. Or at least a warning that this mode is for experienced player only (which is somewhat achieved in TGM2 because I don't think someone novice would chose "Death" as a first choice).

          That said, my girlfriend began with death mode, persevered and now is as good as me (while not being a seasoned video-game player). She liked the fact that the session were super short IIRC.