A 13-year-old U.S. gamer achieved a milestone last month that will stand forever in the lore of video gaming. The teenager remarkably became the first person to defeat the popular Tetris in its 34 years on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) platform.
Willis Gibson, who plays as BlueScuti, reached the game’s infamous “kill screen” after 40 minutes of being tested. He dedicated his historic performance to his father, who passed away just a week before.
The NES game, released in 1989, was set to end with a block that reached the top of the screen. This would signal the game was over, but no one had ever accomplished this feat until now.
The session involved a staggering 1,511 lines, and Gibson pushed the game past the limits it was designed for. This triggered an epic crash.
For decades, Tetris fans believed reaching roughly 300 lines was impossible for a human player to attain. Upon achieving Level 29, which means roughly 230 to 290 lines cleared, the game maxes out at its highest speed.
13 year old Willis Gibson aka Blue Scuti became the first recorded person to beat Tetris causing the game to freeze after reaching level 157 pic.twitter.com/uRt3KOasTh
— Jake Lucky (@JakeSucky) January 4, 2024
Normal playing strategies at this level are meaningless, and excellent players “top out” quickly. Aficionados developed new strategies involving special grips to move Tetris pieces at a faster pace to keep up with the higher speeds.
Interestingly, there is no scripted ending for the game. Blocks continue to fall as players direct them into rows, and no matter the quality of the player, eventually, the game beats them.
Until a 13-year-old prodigy changed what was possible forever.
Gibson triggered the “kill screen” on Level 157, something virtually unthinkable right up until the moment it was accomplished. The significance of this event is not lost on the makers of Tetris.
Tetris CEO Maya Rogers released a statement congratulating BlueScuti “for achieving this extraordinary accomplishment, a few that defies all preconceived limits of this legendary game.”
She called his victory a “monumental achievement” as Tetris prepares to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2024.
YouTuber and gaming expert David Macdonald noted that for many years, passionate Tetris players “didn’t even know how to get to these higher levels.” But innovative techniques developed that pushed the boundaries upward, but nowhere near where young Gibson reached last month.