Tetris: The Board Game

Tetris Board Game
Image from TimeCruiser78

Oh, did this game suck. Milton-Bradley must have really wanted to cash in on the Tetris craze of the 80's and 90's by making this thing, but there was no point to it. Tetris was all about quick thinking and fast manipulating of oddly-shaped pieces - and making do with the wrong shapes. The board game bore no similarity to the video game, except for cardboard pieces shaped like the famous blocks. This had to be the worst idea for a board game ever.

Here's how it played. Each player had a "board" shaped roughly like the center "well" of Tetris - the place where the blocks dropped down. The rest of the box was filled with cardboard representations of the Tetris blocks - the long and skinny, the Z shapes, the T blocks, the squares, and the L's. Each player grabbed pieces out of the box to fill their well as fast as possible without leaving gaps. There was no random piece dispenser, so players could grab the good pieces specifically. Kinda eliminates the challenge of the real Tetris, doesn't it? The game ended when one player placed a cardboard piece that touched the top row of the well. That player then shouted out "Tetris!". Then everyone had to count the number of "gaps" left in their boards. The player with the fewest gaps (not necessarily the fastest to the top) was the winner.

My sister has informed me that there was an additional mode of play where each person was supposed to grab 20 random pieces out of the box and arrange them as perfectly as possible on their playing field, then count the gaps. Um, didn't the game creators realize that each piece occupies 4 "squares" of the board? I'm guessing that they thought this "fast-paced" game would require you to throw pieces down so quickly that you didn't have time to arrange them correctly, and you wouldn't fit all 20 on your board. Or something. I don't know.

There was a small hourglass timer included in case you were playing REALLY slowly. You were supposed to halt the game once the timer ran out, but that would require an additional person to sit there and watch the timer. You really don't want to pull another person into playing this.

The game simply wasn't fun, no matter how many people were playing. The only fun thing to do with the boards was to arrange "perfect" games by filling in all the gaps without a time limit. Or just "make patterns" with the different-colored shapes (which is how my sister played the real Tetris game when we were kids). I suppose you could have turned the pieces into a craft project. I bet a Tetris-themed diorama would have been more exciting than this game.

I seem to remember that the board game included a coupon for money off an actual Tetris game cartridge. Maybe MB felt guilty pawning this poor imitation off on unsuspecting parents. I had this thing as a kid, but I don't think my family held onto it. We only played it once or twice. Now I'm wishing I'd kept it, at least as a weird conversation piece.

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Thanks to my sister for emailing me about some of the game's "intricacies" I missed.