Newly Discovered Tetris Game & Watch Prototype Pre-dates Game Boy

Images and gameplay footage of a Game & Watch version of Tetris have surfaced on social media. While verifying the device’s authenticity is impossible, what’s shown offers an intriguing glimpse of how the game may have worked.

The Game & Watch games were simple handheld devices, each offering a single title to play. There were 60 released between 1980 and 1991, and the more popular games included versions of Donkey Kong and Zelda.

The Game Boy was released in 1989, and following its phenomenal success, the smaller console series was discontinued.

This Game & Watch Tetris footage is so interesting because of how it plays. Traditionally, the player controls Tetrominoes (Tetris blocks) as they fall down the screen and spins them to fit into the play area. In the Game & Watch version, it looks like the player can still turn the Tetrominoes, but they control the bottom of the play area instead. The player almost has to ‘catch’ the Tetronimoes rather than directly placing them. It looks unintuitive, but definitely something you could get used to with practice.

VGDensetsu on Twitter reports:

“The current owner of the prototype has indicated that, although he cannot publically reveal from whom he acquired it, there is little doubt about the authenticity of the machine.”

I’ll leave it to the internet sleuths to pick that statement apart. But if true, this Game & Watch Prototype unit is a valuable piece of Nintendo history.

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