Tetris on Apple TV+ is a spy thriller?

Apple debuts the trailer for the Tetris film and how it broke from the Iron Curtain to be one of the most successful video games of all time.

Who would have thought a movie about Tetris would be a spy-thriller? The trailer for the Apple TV Plus original is chock full of 1980s nostalgia and spy film classic tropes.

Apple debuts the trailer for the Tetris film and how it broke from the Iron Curtain to be one of the most successful video games of all time. (Images: Apple TV/MARV)

Invented by Alexey Pajitnov in 1984, Tetris is a simple but addictive puzzle game. Using geometric shapes called tetrominoes as a template, players simply had to create horizontal lines with the slowly dropping shapes by moving and rotating them in the right places.

Although Tetris was released for many platforms, it found its biggest success on the Nintendo Game Boy. It would later be ported to over 60 platforms and have sequels and spinoffs, such as Tetris Attack and Tetris 99, becoming one of the most successful video game franchises in history.

But before all that, Tetris had to go through a surprisingly complex web of cultural, political, and corporate subterfuge.

The Tetris trailer sees Taron Egerton, who is also one of the executive producers of the film, playing the role of Henk Rogers.

The Dutch video game designer and entrepreneur was a key player in the video game industry of the 1980s. Rogers established the company Bullet-Proof Software, which was responsible for producing the first turn-based roleplaying game for the Japanese market (The Black Onyx). But Henk Rogers is perhaps best known for being the man who secured the official rights to distribute Tetris on consoles and handhelds.

But that was easier said and done. As the Tetris trailer conveyed, Henk Rogers had to deal with the U.S.S.R., whose Communist Party deemed the rights to the game belonging to the government and not to its creator, Alexey Pajitnov. But aside from dodging the KGB, Rogers would also have to maneuver the corporate intrigue between Atari, Nintendo, and other players interested in getting the Tetris license.

Who would have thought the true story of Tetris would have Cold War-era political intrigue and skulduggery in the plot?

It should be clarified that while the events of the film are based on the true story behind Tetris, there are some liberties being taken. Some of the scenes in the trailer have taken artistic license to add drama and give off a more Cold War-era spy thriller vibe, as if it were a James Bond flick.

For instance, the trailer has car chases and action scenes, while The Final Countdown by Swedish rock band Europe blares in the background. This should come as no surprise, given that the production is the same one behind The Kingsman series of films.

There are documentaries that tell the actual events that involved Alexey Pajitnov, Henk Rogers, Atari, Nintendo, and the Soviet Russian government, and they are far more mundane than in the upcoming Tetris Apple TV Plus movie. One example is by the Gaming Historian (Norman Caruso). And while the tale is not necessarily exciting, it is still compelling and informative with detailing the challenges that Tetris had to overcome before it became the worldwide video game phenomenon we know today.

Directed by Jon S. Baird and produced by Matthew Vaughn's MARV Studios, Tetris begins streaming on Apple TV Plus on March 31, 2023.

Geoff Borgonia
Geoffrey "Borgy" Borgonia is a veteran writer, artist, journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur based in the Philippines. When not contributing to some of the top pop culture sites on the planet, he spends the rest of his time running his business, practicing martial arts, working on and developing books, comics, and games. In his man-cave, his only luxury is sleep. Borgy on Linkedin.
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