First Released: 1984 (Russia)
Platform: IBM PC
Developer: Alexey Pajitnov
There were puzzle games before Tetris and puzzle games after Tetris but none of them defined what makes a puzzle videogame tick more than those falling tetrominos. Released in Soviet Russia in 1984 and played on PCs, Tetris didn't officially make it to the United States until 1989 when it was bundled with the Nintendo Gameboy. It may have been the title that sold 100 million handhelds, as Tetris appealed to all players: boys, girls, men, women, even dogs. Tetris is gameplay distilled to its very essence. There is no character or semblance of story. There is hardly a tutorial. When the game starts, the blocks just appear, and you have to put them somewhere.
In The Escapist Magazine, Robert Buerkle places Tetris in the pantheon of great works of 20th Century art alongside Citizen Kane and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World because of its pure "videogamic" quality. The need to put the different shapes in the right place, creating order from chaos, has been shown to help soldiers dealing with post-traumatic stress syndrome and mother's dealing with post-holiday shopping rages. Tetris is pure videogame, and without it, there would be no Dr. Mario, Bejeweled, or even Window's Minesweeper. The popularity of all so-called casual games can all be traced back to Tetris.