GBAtemp Recommends Revival # 028

by dsiso on April 23, 2012


Welcome to the 28th issue of the GBAtemp Recommends Revival Project! This project is a weekly feature where we share our favorite games and applications with you. The things we recommend may be “old school” titles, a Homebrew, a ROM hack, sleeper hits, an application, etc, but one thing’s for certain, we think they are fantastic and deserve your attention!

GBAtemp Recommends!

The Soviet Mind Game TETЯIS

The Soviet Mind Game TETЯIS, more commonly known as Tengen Tetris, was released for the NES in May of 1989. Tengen Tetris is widely regarded as a superior version of Tetris software when compared to Nintendo’s official NES release. The game was built from the ground up using no original source code and features the use of logarithmic tuning over Nintendo’s choice to double the game’s speed. Tengen’s version of Tetris also features a 2-player mode with options to play against the computer or against another player in either verses or co-operative play.

What most gamers do not know is that the game was almost completely destroyed due to confusion over who actually held the distribution rights. It all started when Atari ST programmer Ed Logg petitioned Atari to license Tetris for release. Atari approached Andromeda president Robert Stein for permission to distribute Tetris, as he had apparently secured the rights for worldwide distribution from the Soviet Academy of Sciences researcher, and Tetris designer, Alexey Pajitnov. Atari, after securing the rights from Stein, got to work on an arcade port and also began working on a NES port under their Tengen brand name. During this same time Nintendo secured the rights for a Gameboy version, which in turn gave them the rights to distribute the first console versions of Tetris. What Atari did not know was that Stein had never received an actual written contract for the distribution rights, and after failing to get one he claimed that Tetris had been developed by a group of Hungarian programmers. After Tengen Tetris was released, Atari sued Nintendo and Nintendo counter sued for distribution rights. A judge later ruled that when developed the game was state owned as Pajitnov was a citizen of Russia. This placed the distribution decision in the hands of the USSR’s Ministry of Software and Hardware Export, who claimed that Stein (and Atari) only had the rights to develop and sell Personal Computer ports. As a result of this ruling Tengen was forced to stop selling the NES console game, and to recall and destroy nearly 268,000 copies.

Rare and hard to find, the game is sometimes referred to as the “unlicensed Tetris NES cart” by most collectors. Often categorized as Tetris (UNL), the ROM is extremely easy for retro gamers to pass by, and this is not a version to be skipped!

Genre: Puzzle
Type: Retail
Release Date: May, 1989
Developed by: Atari Games
Published by: Tengen
System: NES

If you enjoyed this weeks edition of GBAtemp Recommends! please leave a comment in the thread. This helps us monitor feedback and ensures we keep posting these articles in the future.

Posted Image25 Years Of Tetris – Atari, Nintendo & Mirrorsoft
Posted ImageOfficial GBAtemp Recommends! Mini-Page & History

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