Sputnik burned up in the atmosphere, Berlin is now one city, but 25 years later, the Soviet-designed Tetris remains one of the most popular and ubiquitous video games ever created. It has sold over 125 million copies, been released for nearly every video-game platform of the past two decades and even been played on the side of a skyscraper. Yet creator Alexey Pajitnov almost never saw a ruble for his creation.
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And I remember my Little Master (2) 8 bit game console from Media on which I played Tetris for hours and weeks. Tetris was one of the games that came in with 500-in-1 game cartridge, a complimentary cartridge that actually had only 5 games, other games included were Mario (what good game cartridge would come without a version of the mad hopping plumber who loves mushrooms and a princess), Duck Hunt ( to play you needed to have that stupid gun not included free in the game console pack), Battle Tank and Galaxy).
Mario, a legend in itself was great, but it was Tetris that proved truly addictive. We used to hold Tetris showdowns just to see who will patch up more lines and these Tetris duels could go on for hours. I was once involved in a five hour duel that in the end I lost out to cousin sister.
The video game consoles by Media, costing around Rs 2500-3500 ( $50), were a rage in the '90s. Their Little Master series (1,2) was very popular and later they came out with a sleek smaller looking Game Boy (they came a TM) that proved equally potent. Probably the only completion they faced in the market was from SEGA who had similar 8 bit game consoles (I think their game cartridges were bigger and different). Shops, housing these video game machines, cropped up that allowed you to play these games for Rs.10 an hour. Exchanging cartridges with friends. More duels. Streetfighter. Chun Li. Ken. Contra. Pacman. 1942. Kungfu. Karateka.Legendary.Aladdin. B-wings. And more crazy names. Crazy music. Mad colors. Worn out keys of control pad. More games. 'You will lose your eyes!' Brain freeze. I actually had a 64-in-1 cartridge that had 60 different games. Prize possession.
That was the 8 bit 'Video Game' phenomena. My first experience with 'video games' was in later 1990, I was eight taking small steps, carefully planting bombs at secret locations, playing Bomberman on a colored horizontal screen arcade machine with a wobbly gear stick for direction control (Cost was princely Rs. 5 for 15 minutes). By the end of 90s the reign of 8-bit was almost over and kids were going crazy about a new phenomena - PS2 and 'Computer games'. India was catching up with the world. But Tetris survived and at the start of 2000, it got a new leash of life thanks to those cheap crazy little grey LCD screened 'Made-in-China' pocket Tetris consoles that offered 5000-in-1 games -all Tetris at various speed, levels and start combination. People again got busy at mad and furious bricklaying.