Classic puzzle game Tetris has been around for over three decades, and in that time, plenty of people have reached its various endings, usually by clearing four rows of bricks at once like a digital demolitioner. That’s a challenge in and of itself, but now, someone has taken the concept of “beating Tetris” to the extreme by playing the NES game so hard it straight-up crashed, a phenomenon also known as the “kill screen.”
As reported by 404 Media, 13-year-old competitive Tetris player Blue Scuti became the first human to force the NES classic into a “kill screen,” the de facto “game over” for the legendary puzzler in which the game freezes and becomes unplayable—a feat previously only accomplished by AI. Blue Scuti, who emerged on the competitive Tetris scene in December 2021 and won first place in a handful tournaments over the course of 2023, posted a video to their YouTube channel on January 2 showing them achieving the monumental feat.
As they ripped through Tetris’ myriad levels, the bricks falling at an ever-faster pace, Blue Scuti quipped about misplacing blocks here and there. Regardless of miscalculations, though, Blue Scuti managed to crash the game after about 38 minutes of continuous play: the screen froze, the music stayed stuck on an endless note. “Oh my God,” Blue Scuti said a few times, freaking out. “Yes! I’m gonna pass out. I can’t feel my fingers. I can’t feel my hands.” It’s impressive, especially when you watch the bricks rain down in quick succession.
As 404 Media pointed out, Blue Scuti uses the “rolling” technique, a way of holding an NES controller that dominated the Tetris scene in 2021. Instead of “hyper tapping,” the previously most popular method of tapping an NES controller’s D-pad as fast as possible, “rolling” sees players glide their fingers along the bottom of an NES controller to use that momentum to roll the controller into their other hand, pressing the D-pad in the process. This new method of play allows competitors to press the D-pad at least 20 times per second rather than the previous 12. The technique revolutionized competitive Tetris play and let Blue Scuti break the game’s world records for overall score, level achieved, and total number of lines. Before Blue Scuti did it, artificial intelligence was the first to utterly break Tetris.
In an interview with the Classic Tetris World Championships YouTube channel, streamer ITZsharky1 asked Blue Scuti about their motivation for crashing Tetris, other competitive goals, and the hardest part of breaking the puzzler. Blue Scuti said their greatest struggle was the nerves kicking in after about 30 minutes of play, particularly during some of the more challenging color schemes and levels. Their ultimate goal, however, is to remain at the top of the competitive Tetris scene while inspiring new players. Blue Scuti told ITZsharky1 their record-breaking was dedicated to their dad, who passed in December.