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The hardest Tetris game ever is coming to Switch and PS4

Legendary arcade title Tetris: The Grand Master makes its console debut

Two Tetris gameplay boards appear against a swirly blue background with a timer at the bottom of the screen Image: Arika/Hamster Corporation
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

A famously tough arcade version of Tetris is being ported to consoles for the first time since its release in 1998. Publisher Hamster Corporation will release Arika’s Tetris: The Grand Master for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch on Dec. 1, as reported by Famitsu (via VGC), and confirmed on Twitter by Arika itself.

The Grand Master is known for its fearsomely rapid increase in drop speed. It was the first Tetris game to go all the way up to instant gravity, which means new tetrominoes don’t fall but appear instantly at the bottom of the screen, and players have only a fraction of a second to move and rotate them before they lock into place and another appears.

The game gets its title from its ranking system, which grades players by ability through nine ranks, all the way up to Grand Master.

The Grand Master had a few sequels, including a spinoff game, Tetris: The Grand Master Ace, which did make it onto Xbox 360 as a launch title for the console’s Japanese release. But this will be the first home release for the original game.

The Grand Master’s reputation has made it a staple for the world’s top Tetris players at showcases such as Awesome Games Done Quick. Check out this video if you want to get a sense of how blisteringly fast the game can get. And if you thought Tetris was just Tetris, and one version is never that different from another, then allow Digital Foundry’s John Linneman to educate you in his long but fascinating video exploring the series’ full history.

Hamster is releasing Tetris: The Grand Master as part of its huge Arcade Archives collection. It has only been confirmed for Japan so far, but most of the Arcade Archives releases have appeared on Western storefronts, too. The specialist publisher has been reissuing retro arcade games on a weekly basis since the Switch launched in 2017. The Grand Master is part of a double-header celebrating the fact that Hamster has made no less than 300 classic games available this way — the other game being the 1979 classic Galaxian.

The next level of puzzles.

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