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ntris

March 30, 2012

TLDR: Check out this game called ntris (name subject to change due to copyright issues) my friend Skishore made. It’s a generalization of tetris where the pieces don’t start falling faster – instead, variety is introduced in the form of larger pieces!

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Indeed, instead of the familiar tetrominos, this game has polyominos as large as n = 10.  To help you deal with these beasts, you’re given the help of a look-ahead of 5, and a hold (where you can store a piece for later).  Also, clearing n lines at once gives you a rewarding 2^n – 1 points.  But as your score gets higher, the beasts get more square-y…

It may seem quite hard to deal even just with pentominoes at first (especially a hot pink piece you’ll learn to love), but you get much better with practice.  Below is a (sped-up) demonstration of seasoned ntris veteran and friend of mine, Brian Lee, playing.  Notice that at around 8 seconds in, he does something we call “laying it across”, where you clear a line far above the bottom of playable board, a technique which is crucial at high-level play.

It gets better, though.  There’s a 2-player mode.  Here, instead of getting points, clearing lines sends “attacks”, which means your opponent gets larger (and redder) pieces.  In addition, consecutive line-clears results in combos, which are quite square-y when executed well.  Try playing with your friends and see if you can pull good ones some off!  There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing your opponent’s screen fill with monstrous red pieces.  When, you get to a more advanced level, try 4-widing for combos (you can figure out what that means…)

Though it’s not for everyone, the game can be somewhat addicting.  I have personally wasted… well, I don’t want to estimate the time I’ve spent.  My friends and I have also invented many variants of this game (though they aren’t online), and created the “ntris zoo”, a taxonomy of the pieces.  And yes, the tetris effect generalizes to the ntris effect…

P.S.: Modesty aside, I am, as far as we know, the best ntris player in the world, by a good margin.  Of course, as far as we know, not many have played, so it’sn’t (“it’s not” + “it isn’t”?) much of an accomplishment. And there’s probably a 13 year old Japanese kid out there who would crush me without any practice.  That being said, if you think you’ve gotten good (or if you are a Japanese tetris prodigy), contact me to challenge for the unofficial title 🙂

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