Beastly AIs known to let the piece, mmm...drop
April 26, 2022 10:56 AM   Subscribe

In his blog post "Can you be sure to clear a line at Tetris?", theoretical computer science researcher Antoine Amarilli asks: can you be sure to clear a line at Tetris? Specifically, even if the computer hates you and doesn't want to let you?

Come for the constrained proof by search (in which it is shown that a human can, in fact, always make a line even with one hand figuratively tied behind their back); stay for the excellent roundup at the bottom of some other Tetris-related research from the last 25 years.
posted by cortex (14 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Maybe this is why Faces…tris III was so much worse a game than Tetris: no such thing can be proven about it (an adversarial computer could just give you nothing but foreheads).

Or maybe it’s just because it’s a rubbish game all around. (even the name is awful)
posted by aubilenon at 12:01 PM on April 26

Bastet (i.e., Bastard Tetris) is tricky, but you can fool it by building an overhang and sliding your pieces around it.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:08 PM on April 26 [4 favorites]

Another challenging exercise: count all the levels on which this post's title works as a pun. It's like the full Tetris line clear, maybe even the perfect clear, of MeFi titles. Kudos!
posted by borborygmi at 2:09 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]

Ten bonus points for the New Style/Intergalactic reference in the title!

This definitely brought back memories of playing bastet as a kid. I managed five lines once!
posted by Dysk at 2:43 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]

No AI involved here.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 3:14 PM on April 26

Adversarial tetris is an interesting idea. Two-player, with a dropper and a placer role? I'm not sure it's exciting enough to make, but I'd sure as hell play it. (I went nuts for Super Puzzle Fighter, which wasn't quite that, but did allow you to play against an opponent in interesting ways.)
posted by eotvos at 4:51 PM on April 26

Maybe this is why Faces…tris III was so much worse a game than Tetris

This just brought back a totally wild memory. In like 1991-92 or so I had Welltris but only had a monochrome monitor. Because of this, the green pieces blended in with the background and were basically invisible. Silly me thought this was a part of the game and just went with it. Imagine my surprise a couple months later when I splurged on an 8-bit CRT (256 colors!!!) and found out that there were no invisible pieces.
posted by Literaryhero at 5:07 PM on April 26 [12 favorites]

if you found Bastet too easy, perhaps Hatetris will be more your style
posted by DoctorFedora at 6:31 PM on April 26 [2 favorites]

Using the trick of playing one bot's moves against another bot, I was able to finally score a line in Hateris.
posted by now i'm piste at 6:48 PM on April 26

Super Puzzle Fighter, which wasn't quite that, but did allow you to play against an opponent in interesting ways.

You should check out the Puyo Puyo series if you haven't! Pretty interesting PvP play, somewhat similar in complexity to Super Puzzle Fighter.
posted by SaltySalticid at 8:45 PM on April 26

I feel that there's some money to be made from a game designed around the 'Tetris Brain' phenomenon?
When you've been playing too long and do something else; but start mentally rotating the bookcase so it fits into the couch, which makes a line and clears that side of the room, etc.
A cross with Katamari Damacy, where you start out clearing a silverware drawer by making the jumbled forks 'spoon' each other; moving outdoors to an eventual 'Hey! the cruise ship fits into the stadium!' *blinka-blinka-blink*
posted by bartleby at 9:18 PM on April 26 [4 favorites]

You should look into the PS3 game Trash Panic sometime!
posted by DoctorFedora at 9:20 PM on April 26 [1 favorite]

When it comes to head-to-head puzzle games, I liked Magical Drop, and even moreso, Money Puzzle Exchanger. Combos send attack pieces, but in Magical Drop, those come in unevenly across different rows - which disrupts any combos you've set up. In MPE, the attacks just send compete rows pushing down the whole grid, which means everything you've set up is still intact, so it's much more practical to recover from a big attack and counter, which IMO makes for better gameplay.

Also honorable mention to Yahoo! Towers, a columns clone where you are in teams of two, with pits of blocks adjacent so you can make matches that include your neighbor's pit. In that one the six colors of blocks have Y, A, H, O, O, and ! and if you spell YAHOO! then it sends attack blocks (but you send a lot more if you spell two crossing diagonal YAHOO!s or whatever). Plus you get attack and defense blocks with special abilities. Anyway for a browser based fast paced multiplayer game with 4 teams playing simultaneously over 1999's internet, I thought it was remarkably robust and also super fun.
posted by aubilenon at 9:24 PM on April 26

Oh man Money Idol/Puzzle Exchanger was such a weird notion of a game, but it was very cool. I really miss Puzzle Fighter though — that game was so good in so many ways (especially the HD Remix rebalance that made more than two characters competitively viable). The "the closer you are to losing, the more dangerous you become" structure was just so juicy.
posted by DoctorFedora at 10:44 PM on April 26

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