Tetris and I were born just a month apart. And what Cold War kids we were. Tetris was the brainchild of a young Soviet computer engineer with a knack for building addictive games. I was the actual child of a couple of former hippies with a bit of a disco hangover.
I knew Tetris and I were going to get along from the start. And we got along famously.
I’m hardly the only one who became best friends with Tetris in the ’80s. Like a lot millenials, my experience with Tetris happened almost exclusively through the Nintendo Entertainment System, which was obviously the best video game console of the time. With its colourful blocks, silly music and simple gameplay, Tetris was a game you could play for hours without even realising time had passed. It was a game you could play with your parents who, despite their love of disco, did not like video games. It was a game you could never play to the end because you can never beat Tetris. Or so I thought.
As the title suggests, Ecstasy of Order: The Tetris Masters offers a glimpse at the world’s greatest Tetris players. Much as Fistful of Quarters did for Donkey Kong, this movie props these masters up on high pedestals showcasing not only how disgustingly good they are at the video game but also how consistently committed they are to beating their rivals. From humble champions like Robin Mahara to the longingly elusive grand master Thor Aackerlund, the cast of characters every bit as fascinating as the story itself. And it’s surprisingly entertaining watching those little tetrominoes zip around the screen for an hour and a half.
More than anything, it’s a nostalgic delight to think back to the days you’d jump up on the couch after getting to level 12… and then promptly fuck it up and lose. It’s mind-boggling to watch the masters get up to level 29… and then break the game because they’re so damn good. [Hulu]