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Tetris Comes To Life in Deep Ellum and The Colony

Immersive Gamebox teams up with the famed puzzle game for a new interactive experience called Tetris 1991 that turns the classic block dropper into a real workout.
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Immersive Gamebox has turned the legendary Tetris game into an interactive workout. Danny Gallagher

Even if you’ve never picked up a Nintendo GamePad, you know how to play Tetris. The block dropping puzzle game is as familiar as Mario’s question block or Pac-Man’s power pellets.

Tetris, the puzzle game in which players use four different shapes of four blocks to create lines in an enclosed column, is on pretty much every major video game console, computer brand and handheld device. Almost 40 years later, Tetris is still being played all over the world by amateurs and esports competitors.

There’s even a movie streaming on Apple TV that tells the story of how video game designer Henk Rogers and game creator Alexey Pajitnov brought Tetris to Nintendo’s groundbreaking Game Boy handheld system through Russia’s Iron Curtain.

The interactive game room Immersive Gamebox has come up with a new and novel way of playing Tetris with a full motion throwback experience. They’re calling it Tetris 1991 and it is now available at both of its locations in Deep Ellum and The Colony’s Grandscape.

“It’s like the old version,” says 10-year-old Sam LeBlanc, who got to take the game on one its first runs at Grandscape, “but way better.”

Immersive Gamebox is an enclosed game room experience in which projectors shoot out immersive games on the walls as groups of players interact with the action on the life-sized screens. Groups of up to six players wear hats appointed with trackballs that allow the software to track their movements as they try to rack up the highest score for themselves and their teams in different experiences.

Immersive Gamebox’s latest title is Tetris 1991, a retro take on the classic puzzle game in which players are brought back to the golden age of console gaming to take on a series of Tetris-esque challenges in different locations and styles.

“There are five different mini-games within it and you go through each and every single mini-game and earn points,” says Ash Cintas, Immersive Gamebox’s senior vice president of North American operations. “It’s super collaborative.”

In Tetris 1991, a Game Boy-like device has accidentally turned the world into one big game of Tetris and it’s up to the players to organize the falling blocks in different ways to put things right again.

The traditional Tetris game requires players to create lines across an empty column using a randomized series of blocks. Instead, the challenges in Tetris 1991 change from level to level. For instance, players will have to pack a car with items for a trip, but all the items are in the familiar Tetris shapes. They must fit as many of them in the space provided before the growing tower of blocks stack past the top of the screen.

If you’re used to playing Tetris sitting down, this one will make you work up a sweat. One level takes place in a warehouse and challenges a group of players to place a series of blocks in place two at a time so they can create lines and erase the clutter at the bottom of the screen. Players move the blocks by running to the left and right sides of the rooms then touch a wall to rotate the block into place. Once it’s in the correct position, players nod their head to slam the block into place.

The action is punctuated with tunes you’re more likely to hear on the radio in the early 90s: C&C Music Factory’s “Good Vibrations,” The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage,” and The La’s “There She Goes.”

“It gets harder when you have to move your head,” says Juan Quintano, who tested out the game with his dad Javier. “It’s cool but you have to slam [the piece] down harder.”

Immersive Gamebox kicked off the new game by inviting Tetris champion Willis Gibson, the 14-year-old competitor from Stillwater, Okla. who is the first player in history to get a kill screen on the NES version of Tetris, to its Grandscape location for his birthday. Gibson beat the NES Tetris on Dec. 21, 2023 on level 157 after 38 minutes of gameplay. He was also the youngest player to compete in 2023’s Classic Tetris World Championship where he finished third in October.

“It’s not just playing Tetris,” Gibson says. “There’s still that Tetris aspect but they made something completely original and on their own and that’s really cool.”

Immersive Gamebox has locations at 2525 Elm St. and 5752 Grandscape Blvd, The Colony.

Author

Danny Gallagher

Danny Gallagher

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