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About the Story
Tetris for the Z-machine, an original "fun" entry for the 1995 IF Competition. Needs an interpreter capable of timed events to work properly.
I've had a one-line review of this up for a long time, but it's probably time to say a few more words. This is the first videogame to be ported to a system intended for text adventures. Andrew Plotkin performed this feat as a joke, firmly establishing his reputation in the interactive fiction community as a complete and utter madman. Since then, the practice of abusing the Z-machine in this way has spread, and it's difficult now to fully appreciate the amazement and horror that the idea originally inspired. Still, this is not in any sense a text adventure, or even interactive fiction.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
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I have played both the bugged version (in the tempting Internet link) and the unbugged (downloaded to a proper interpreter) version of this.
The unbugged version is amusing enough, in its way. It's Tetris. The probability that you have found your way to this page without playing Tetris is vanishingly small, but if so, then you may now avail yourself of the opportunity. Learn to enjoy the shapes. Consider trying a version with music next time. It is a joke not requiring a critic's explanation.
As for the bugged version...those who do not enjoy long reviews can skip the rest.
(Spoiler - click to show)Still here? You already know this scene off by heart. It is late night. The lights are off, leaving only an ethereal glow from the computer monitor. Yours truly is in a sleepy groove of lazy browsing, jumping casually from hyperlink to hyperlink, in that pattern of ecstatic information gathering doubtless familiar to Internet denizens everywhere. A game of Tetris presents itself. Very good! Let it be played.
A note regarding the implicit philosophical underpinnings of our binary Skinner box. Tetris is, as has been noted by other minds before me, a starkly pure vision of mortality. Blocks fall. You place the blocks. You score beautiful victories with straights. You despair over the awkward falls of Z-blocks. Maybe you find yourself living the good life of block placing. Time passes, your reactions slow, the screen fills with loose ends and uncertainties. You die.
Unless you're in a bugged version with no timed events, in which you control the downward progression of the blocks.
It begins the same way, with a little extra keyboarding. You move the blocks. You push them down. You make the odd mistake. Careful manoeuvring fixes this over the course of many turns. You are pleased with yourself, as you normally would.
But it goes on, and on, and you keep going, even though your eyes have started to smart from setting up the rows (it would be churlish to note that these are very small shapes, but, well, they are), and because you can't die. Correction: you will die, but only when you choose to make the mistake. It has become your responsibility to live, the creed dictated by a thousand other games - a thousand other games of Tetris, perhaps! - and so you continue, long after it stops being fun, because there doesn't seem any way to end it. This is a world without time, where it's not worthwhile speaking of events, not because they don't happen, but because stripping away causality renders them meaningless. There is no satisfaction in vanishing a set of blocks when your ability to do so was never in doubt.
Lost in an endlessness of the witching hour, you set a goal, an arbitrary goal, but an achievable goal, one far closer than the end of infinity. A hundred lines, perhaps. Maybe there will be an Easter Egg at the end of a hundred lines. Some small taste of human acknowledgement, buried in the numbers. Anything is possible.
And in a crazed, yet slow - excruciatingly slow! - progression, you work your way there. Ninety two lines. Ninety-six lines. Ninety-seven. Ninety-eight.
A hundred and two.
Nothing has changed.
In despair, you ram down the blocks on top of each other, willing your death. It comes.
The game resets. More blocks. An infinity of blocks.
And you ram the space bar down, down, watching the waterfall of blocks, cascading, expecting an end, and there is no end. There will never be an end. Infinity blasts into your soul and settles itself inside, leaving the wound too numbed for anguish.
You close the browser window and go play something by Porpentine instead.
I have been unable to determine whether I should score this with one star or five, and have settled for a weak, vacillating compromise. Perhaps I shouldn't have rated it at all.
Recommended for: any night you may happen to be dismal about the brevity of life. You will find this a ready cure.
Alexey Pajitnov, et al., did a great job gifting the future app developers who need something to test the often unforgiving world of Glk's single timer. What better way to make sure your interpreter application isn't sending two keystrokes when it should only be sending one?
It is tiny binary code once compiled and public domain - can be put in as an Easter Egg in your own Inform 6 story. Why all the negative reviews? If people want to improve it - the licensing and source code is there... or is it? There is one lingering mystery in this puzzle story about tremendous chunks of stone falling toward you.. The download binary says "Release 4", but the source code (freefall.inf) is only Release 2?
If you enjoyed Tetris...
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This is version 2 of this page, edited by David Welbourn on 11 March 2008 at 2:27pm. - View Update History - Edit This Page - Add a News Item