Created by Soviet engineer Alexei Pajitnov in 1984, Tetris is recognized as one of gaming’s greatest hits and has established itself as one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time.
The enduring popularity of Tetris, as well as its status as a retro game with a simple and straightforward game loop, has made it the perfect opportunity for players to showcase their talents by recreating Tetris in other games like Minecraft or – in this case – for programmers to develop AI. which will play the game with more efficiency. More often than not, this efficiency far exceeds that of the average person, allowing players, programmers, and other stakeholders to experience their old favorite games in a whole new way.
In this particular example, programmer Greg Cannon shared a gameplay video of his StackRabbit AI playing a NES version of Tetris, in which the AI managed to get so far that it completely broke the game. While the AI was still subjected to the arbitrary brutality of Tetris handing out a fairly large sequence of alternating S and Z shapes, the AI was not limited in terms of reaction time or input methods as is usually the case with humans.
The usual ending for this particular version of Tetris would have been at level 29, where the speed of the game would make finding solutions on the fly completely impossible. However, thanks to StackRabbit’s artificial intelligence, Greg Cannon was able to effortlessly advance to higher levels that were not intended or accounted for by the game’s software.
After passing level 29, Tetris began to exhibit strange behavior, such as generating erroneous color schemes or breaking the game’s level indicator and scoring altogether.
The game eventually gave up and broke completely at level 237 with a final score of 102 million. An interesting statistical finding is that even after over 8,000 tetrominos, the highly coveted I-shaped was still the rarest type by a noticeable margin. Some people have wondered if Tetris has an end, and finally a convincing answer has been given to this age-old question.