From Sega Retro


  • System 16
  • System E
  • Sega Mega Drive
  • Sega Mega Drive

Tetris Arcade Title.png

Tetris SystemE Title.png

Tetris MD TitleScreen.png

Tetris MD 2019 TitleScreen.png

System(s): Sega System 16, Sega Mega Drive, Sega System E, Sega Mega-Tech, Taito B-System, Taito H-System
Publisher: Sega
Arcade (System 16)
Sega Mega Drive
Arcade (System 16)
Sega Mega Drive
Atari Games
Arcade (System 16)
Sega Mega Drive
Arcade (System 16)
Sega Mega Drive
Andromeda Software
Arcade (System 16)

The Tetris Company (Mega Drive Mini)

Sound driver:
Sega Mega Drive
Pre-SMPS Z80
Genre: Puzzle[2]

Number of players: 1-2
Release Date RRP Code
Arcade (System 16)
¥? ?
Arcade (System E)
¥? ?
Arcade (Mega 6)
¥? ?
Arcade (Mega-Tech System)
£? ?

Sega Mega Drive

Tetris (テトリス) is a tile-matching puzzle game based around falling blocks. The name is derived from combining the Greek numerical prefix tetra- (the falling pieces contain 4 segments) and tennis.

Tetris was originally created by Alexey Pajitnov; he developed the first version of the game for Soviet Elektronika 60 terminal computers. Sega produced two arcade versions (a System 16 version and a System E version), a Mega Drive version, and a Mega Drive Mini version.


Gameplay screenshot from the System 16 version.

The Sega versions of Tetris are played against backgrounds seemingly sourced from around the world depicting scenes of world evolution. As the player's level increases, the background changes, developing from the earliest known history of the Earth to a futuristic city. A preview of the next Tetrimino can be seen above the Tetris playing field.

The background changes as the player's level increases, depicting scenes of world evolution.

The Sega versions of Tetris are more "rigid" than later games, only allowing for pieces to be rotated if there is room (i.e. a piece is not "pushed" left or right if there is space to do so, and the player is not given the chance to rotate a piece shortly before it stops). This ruleset, called Sega rotation, became a fixture in Sega's other Tetris-inspired games during the late 1980s and 1990s, and became a de facto standard for Japanese Tetris games including Arika's Tetris: The Grand Master series (until The Tetris Company established official standards in the early 2000s).

The System 16 version of Tetris also includes a talking monkey which acts as a guide during the attract sequence. Monkeys would appear in later Sega-published Tetris titles as well. Also, while Tetris became would become synonymous with Russian folk songs (most notably, "Korobeiniki"), the Sega soundtrack is entirely original. In addition, as the speed of the game increases, the the tempo of the main theme also gets faster.


Tetris was conceived by Alexey Pajitnov and he developed the first version for Elektronika 60 computers. Pajitnov ceded all the rights to Tetris to the Soviet government for a ten year period in 1986. Elektronorgtechnica (or simply Elorg), an organization owned by the Soviet government at the time, would be responsible for the licensing of any Tetris rights.

Sega of America representitive Steve Hanawa "discovered" Tetris on behalf of the company during the development of Monopoly.[5] Hanawa noticed the Monopoly team working on a PC version of Tetris, and he became addicted to it after trying it out. Hanawa introduced Tetris to Sega of Japan, and the latter acquired the Japanese arcade and Mega Drive "rights" from Tengen. Tengen held what was believed to be the arcade and console rights at the time. The "rights" had passed through other companies before reaching Tengen; Tengen had been given the "rights" from their parent company, Atari Games, Atari Games licensed them from Mirrorsoft, and Mirrorsoft licensed them from Andromeda Software.

Andromeda's belief that they had the ability to sell any arcade and console rights to Tetris stemmed from a contract between them and Elorg (signed on 10 May 1988); the contract gave Andromeda the rights to Tetris for home computers and "different types of computers"; the phrase was vague enough for Andromeda to believe that it meant things like arcade systems and consoles.


Gameplay screenshot from the 1989 Mega Drive version. It has become one of the rarest games in existence.

The System 16 version of Tetris was a hit in Japan, prompting additional versions of the game to be made for different arcade hardware - one for Sega's System E hardware, and two for Taito's B-System and H-System boards. The B-System versions were released as upgrade kits for Taito's Nastar and Master of Weapon; the H-System version appears to have been sold on modified boards that previously held Taito's Go for the Gold (released overseas as Recordbreaker) rather than as an upgrade kit. Although the arcade rights Sega received from Tengen were not legitimate at the time of their arcade versions' releases, those arcade versions would eventually be legitimatized after Andromeda signed a contract with Elorg on 26 February 1989 granting Andromeda the ability to sub-license arcade rights to Tetris legitimately.

Sega planned to release their Mega Drive version of Tetris on 15 April 1989[6], but they suddenly cancelled shipments of the title[7] after they learned the Mega Drive "rights" they acquired were bogus. It is thought that fewer than 10 cartridges were produced, and some of the copies that survived were sold in auctions for up to US$16,000 (one signed copy was infamously sold for US$1,000,000,000). In an interview with Hiroyuki Miyazaki about the Mega Drive Mini, Miyazaki stated that he would have been fired if he had known what happened to the unreleased copies.[8]

While Sega's arcade versions of Tetris could actually be legitimatized, their Mega Drive version could not - a second version of Elorg and Andromeda's computer contract (signed on 23 February 1989) had a definition of a computer added to it, and the Mega Drive version did not fit the new definition. In addition to the amended contract, a seperate contract between Elorg and Nintendo granted the latter all console rights. Despite all this, Sega was able to port the Mega Drive version over to their arcade-based Mega-Tech hardware.


Atari Games, the company responsible for giving Sega the Japanese arcade rights through Tengen, stopped paying Mirrorsoft at some point. This resulted in Mirrorsoft not having enough money to pay Andromeda, and Andromeda not having enough money to pay Elorg. Because of this, Elorg decided to terminate their arcade rights deal with Andromeda in February 1992.[9][10] The termination meant that Sega could no longer distribute their arcade versions of Tetris legally.

Despite the Mega Drive version's legal complications and subsequent cancelled release, bootleg versions of the game eventually found their way onto the unlicensed market in at least the next few years. Notably, a bootleg copy of Tetris is seem being played in the background of the July 1992 action film Police Story 3: Supercop.[11]

Sega's versions of Tetris introduced the concept of Sega rotation, which would influence many of the Tetris games made in the future. In addition to that, Sega's choice of music and aesthetics were adapted for the Sega Saturn game Tetris-S and the 1999 release of Sega Tetris.

Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 28: Tetris Collection, a licensed compilation of Tetris games for the PlayStation 2, includes the cancelled Mega Drive version of Tetris.

The Mega Drive Mini also includes this game. However, the version included on the system is not the original Mega Drive release, but a brand new version that is a more faithful recreation of the original System 16 version.[12] This version was made under a license from The Tetris Company.

Production credits

Main article: Tetris/Production credits.

Digital manuals

Magazine articles

Main article: Tetris/Magazine articles.

Promotional material

Tetris Arcade JP Flyer.jpg
System 16 JP flyer
Tetris Arcade JP Flyer.jpg

Physical scans

System 16 version

Mega-Tech version

Tetris MT cover.jpg
Tetris MegaTech Cart Back.jpgTetris MegaTech Cart.jpg

Mega Drive version (unreleased)

Sega Retro Average 
Publication Score Source
{{{{{icon}}}|L}} Division by zero.
Based on
0 review
Sega Retro Average 
Publication Version Score
1700 igr dlya Sega (RU)
Cool Gamer (RU)
Sega Power (UK) NTSC-J
Sega Opisaniy i sekretov (RU)
Sega Mega Drive
Based on
5 reviews


Mega Drive, JP
Tetris MD JP Box.jpg
Tetris MD JP Cart.jpg

System E version

Master System version

Mega Drive, KR
Tetris SMS KR Box.jpg
Tetris SMS KR Cart Top.jpg
Tetris SMS KR Cart Back.jpgTetris SMS KR Cart.jpg

Technical information

Main article: Tetris/Technical information.

ROM dump status

System Hash Size Build Date Source Comments
Arcade (System 16)
360kB 1989 Cartridge
Sega Mega Drive
CRC32 4ce90db0
MD5 ab307f2a1d9f7b42a49f27445f711ba3
SHA-1 2f2b559c5855e34500e43fb5cc8aff04dd72eb56
256kB 1989 Cartridge (JP)
Sega Mega Drive
CRC32 b6fb7a7d
MD5 f5f0cf3a6765c50915bbb0af2c02723c
SHA-1 dea6ab2dd1aa05ef2119037223fc1bff0c0aa0ca
512kB 2019 Mega Drive Mini (JP) Loaded on Japanese, Traditional Chinese and Korean language settings.
Sega Mega Drive
CRC32 c8dd8841
MD5 9ffa2c2e2f57ed445490306fc367bbe5
SHA-1 1079fee1fd044f16caf641d6b96f84143a6ceceb
512kB 2019 Mega Drive Mini (US) Loaded on English, French, German, Spanish and Italian language settings.


NEC Retro has more information related to Tetris


Tetris Arcade Title.png

Main page | Comparisons | Credits | Hidden content | Magazine articles | Video coverage | Reception | Region coding | Bootlegs

Music: Tetremix (1989)

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Tetris and Tetris-like games for Sega systems/developed by Sega
Sega: Tetris (1989) | Flash Point (Mega Drive) (1989) | Bloxeed (1989) | Sega Tetris (1999) | Sega Ages 2500 Series Vol. 28: Tetris Collection (2006) | Tetris Giant (2010) | Puyo Puyo Tetris (2014) | Puyo Puyo Tetris 2 (2020)
Third-Party: Blockout (1991) | Tetris Plus (1996) | Tetris S (1996) | Tetris 4D (1998) | The Next Tetris: On-Line Edition (2000) | Tetris Kiwamemichi (2004) | Tetris The Grand Master 4: The Masters of Round (unreleased)
Unlicensed: Super Columns (1990) | Super Tetris (19xx) | Flashpoint (19xx)
Tetris related media
Tetremix (1989) | Flash Point/Bloxeed (1990) | New Century (2006) | Puyo Puyo Tetris 1 & 2 Original Soundtrack (2020)