13-Year-Old Tells AI 'Hold My Root Beer' And Becomes First Human To Beat Original Tetris

tetris blocks
If you're a regular HotHardware reader, you've likely played Tetris. It's one of the most iconic games in the world, and it's been around for about 34 years. So, how did someone just now beat it? A 13-year-old who goes by Blue Scuti has managed that feat, and it was more difficult than you can probably imagine.

As all Tetris players know, each level in the block stacking game gets a little faster. That gives you less time to rotate the blocks as they come down from the top of the screen. At level 29, the blocks reach their maximum speed, which was intended to be so fast that players would almost immediately fail because it was supposedly impossible to rotate and move the blocks fast enough. And yet here we are.

Serious Tetris fans don't play the game like the rest of us. The key to Scuti's victory was a controller technique called rolling, which was popularized over the past several years among competitive NES Tetris players. Essentially, you apply light pressure with your thumb on the d-pad, and then drum the fingers of your other hand on the underside to push the controller into your thumb in rapid succession. Some players can reach more than 20 presses per second, much faster than you could manage with just old-fashioned presses.

You could argue it wasn't possible to beat Tetris before rolling, as no one could manipulate an unmodified NES controller fast enough to survive past level 29. You can watch Scuti's entire run in the video below. Tetris doesn't technically have an "end," but the NES does have a limited amount of memory. The community agrees that if you play Tetris until it crashes, then you've "beaten" it, something that only an AI has been able to do until now.

Scuti played the game from level 1 all the way to level 157—that's 128 levels of the fastest block speed before Tetris ran out of memory. The game's score only has six digits, so it was stuck at 999999, but the true score at level 157 was probably closer to 7 million. Scuti dedicated the game to his father, who passed away just a few weeks before he became the first person to beat Tetris.