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Tetris (JP) is the name of the Famicom variant of the tile-matching puzzle video game of the same name. It was developed and published by Bullet Proof Software (BPS), a Japan-based company headed by Henk Rogers.

BPS would later sub-license the handheld rights to Tetris to Nintendo, resulting in Nintendo releasing a Game Boy version of the game.

Gameplay

Pressing down rotates tetriminos and pressing A causes a tetrimino to hard drop.

Development and initial licensing

Henk Rogers, the head of BPS, was first exposed to Tetris while he was visiting the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January 1988. Sphere (Spectrum HoloByte) president Phil Adam stood on the showroom floor displaying Tetris to a line of attendees that included Rogers. Although he considered Tetris to be the quietest game at the show, he was eventually hooked and pursued the rights to the game. Rogers later learned that Gilman Louie, the CEO of Sphere, was going to Japan to try to shop the game. Louie would eventually find Rogers and the two would sign a letter of intent for BPS to publish Tetris in Japan for every platform Rogers could think of. Later on, Louie contacted Rogers to tell him that while he could have the Japanese home computer rights to Tetris, he would have to contact Atari Games (Tengen) if he wanted the Famicom and Japanese arcade rights since they were the ones that had them. Atari initially declined to sub-license any rights to Rogers when he first contacted them. Despite this, Rogers flew out to California and camped out in the Atari Games parking lot, waiting for an opportunity to talk to its president. One day as its president, Hideyuki Nakajima, was leaving for the day, Rogers made his pitch to him. After hearing it, Nakajima agreed to a meeting. The two had a meeting over a sushi dinner, and at the meeting, Nakajima told Rogers that while he couldn't have the Japanese arcade rights since Atari had already sold them to Sega, the Famicom rights were still up for grabs. Rogers paid Atari $300,000 for the Famicom rights.[2][3]

BPS had initially only recieved about 40,000 orders. Henk Rogers contacted then-Nintendo president Hiroshi Yamauchi in hopes that he could help him advertise the title. Yamauchi was interested, so he passed down Tetris to Shigeru Miyamoto. Days later, Yamauchi sent a letter to Miyamoto asking if Tetris was a good game. Miyamoto said it was, and when Yamauchi asked why, Miyamoto said, "Because your accountants and secretaries are playing it". After this happened, Yamauchi agreed to push sales of Tetris. Orders increased from 40,000 to over 200,000.[3]

Release and legacy

This version of Tetris sold over 2 million copies in Japan, making it Bullet Proof Software's best-selling title of all time.[3]

When Henk Rogers went to visit Elorg, the rightsholder of Tetris, to negotiate getting the handheld rights to Tetris for Nintendo, Rogers used the Famicom version as a selling point. Nikolai Belikov, Elorg's managing director at the time, told Rogers that Elorg never sold the console rights to anyone. Belikov would later bring up this version of Tetris with Mirrorsoft.

There are two versions of the game for the Famicom, each with different licensing information: The first version states that Tetris was first licensed to Andromeda Software, then sub-licensed to Mirrorsoft, Sphere (Spectrum HoloByte), Tengen (Atari Games), and Bullet Proof Software; The second version states that Tetris was licensed to Nintendo and then sub-licensed to Bullet Proof Software. "2-ban" (2版) is branded on the back of the box of the second version.

This version of Tetris is currently owned by The Tetris Company.[4]

References

  1. "Products: Family Computer" - bps.co.jp
  2. "The Story of Tetris: Henk Rogers (Part 3) - sramanamitra.com
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "The Story of Tetris (Part IV: Enter Nintendo)" - Gaming Historian (YouTube)
  4. "AtGames® and The Tetris Company Announce Iconic Puzzle Game Tetris® Featured in Legends Flashback Console and Upcoming Legends Ultimate Home Arcade" - tetris.com
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