Take that AI – 13-year-old becomes first human player to beat Tetris on Nintendo Entertainment System

Tetris prodigy Blue Scuti has become the first known human player to ‘beat’ the NES version of the famous block-fitting puzzle game and reach its ‘kill’ screen – a task previously only achieved by AI program Stackrabbit.

The 34-year-old classic console game has foiled human players for decades but Blue Scuti finally managed to reach the game-crashing point after 40 minutes of frantic controller work, using a technique called hypertapping which allows a player to vibrate a thumb over the D-Pad at more than 10 times per second, enabling them to move the blocks quickly enough to prevent a mid-screen pile-up.

Anybody who has played much Tetris knows the game reaches a point where it is impossible to get the blocks out of the way quickly enough if you are close to the top of the screen and things go downhill quickly late on in the game. Hypertapping lets you speed up the block’s movement to at least stand a chance.

Don’t get us wrong, there is a reason that only one person has managed it so far so much kudus to Blue Scuti and his aching digits.

What is a kill screen?

Back in the 80s many arcade games didn’t actually have an ending, they just crashed past a certain point – usually one way past where the programmers ever thought a player would reach. Pac-man and Donkey Kong are another two examples where the programming just gives up and the game crashes causing a “kill screen”.

Ars Technica reports that from level 138 of NES Tetris things start getting sticky as a byte-overflow error starts causing the game to misbehave and glitch, causing the player difficulties seeing the pieces.

While Pac-man and Donkey Kong’s kill screens will always appear in the same spot, there does seem to be a variable at play in Tetris that means other players could manage to get the game further than Blue Scuti’s 1,511 completed lines.

If you fancy having a go, watch the video above of Scuti in action, and you will soon decide you simply do not have it in you.

Paul McNally

Paul has been around consoles and computers since his parents bought him a Mattel Intellivision. He spent over a decade as editor of popular print-based video games and computer magazines, including a market-leading PlayStation title. Has written gaming content for GamePro, Official Australian PlayStation Magazine, PlayStation Pro, Amiga Action, Mega Action, ST Action, GQ, Loaded, and the Daily Mirror. Former champion shoot ’em-up legend.

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