Nintendo And The Soviet Union Got Along Just Fine

In today's day and age, if people want to see a whole bunch of Nintendo characters appearing in the same game, they can play Smash Bros. In the 1980s, they could play...Tetris.

The kind of canon-smashing forces that in the 21st century can pit Link against Mario and Kirby against Pikachu simply weren't around during the days of the Nintendo Entertainment System. So I'm pretty sure the only way you were going to see all of Nintendo's big stars in the one place was if you could get to the "end" of Tetris.

Tetris was first created all the way back in 1984 by Russian Alexey Pajitnov. It's basic premise back then is exactly the same as it is now: tetrominos fall down the screen, stacking atop one another, and the player must align them so there are no empty spaces. "Complete" lines, filled with pieces and no empty spaces, reward the player by scoring points and removing the line from play.

Originally releasing the game on the personal computer in the Soviet Union, the game eventually made its way to the West, and by 1986 was available on PCs in the United States. While relatively popular for the format and the time, Tetris hadn't yet exploded into the mainstream consciousness.

It took the game's appearance on two Nintendo consoles to do that. And boy did the Japanese publisher have to earn it. Not only did Nintendo have to take Atari to court (and threaten arch-nemesis Sega with similar action) over unauthorised versions of the game, but publisher Henk Rogers (who now controls licensing for the game) had to travel to Moscow to meet with Soviet officials before the game could be cleared for release. Which during the Cold War, even its last days, can't have been an easy thing!

Eventually published on both the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy in 1989, it became one of the most iconic and successful Nintendo games of all time; the Game Boy version alone has sold an astonishing 35 million copies to date.

It's fitting, then, that "completing" the NES version earned players a very special end sequence. While the game featured two endings - one which showed St. Basils cathedral taking off like a spaceship - the other had all of Nintendo's biggest stars of the time gather around the famous Russian landmark and dance a jig.

Amazing. Mario and Luigi get down, Bowser is on the accordion, Zelda is clapping, I think, Pit is going bananas on his harp and Samus is...playing the cello. Cool as you like.

I never had a NES as a child, but were I a Nintendo fan and saw this, after finishing a game like Tetris, I don't think my fragile little mind could have taken it.

So the next time you feel like getting all of Nintendo's mascots together in the one spot, you don't need to have them punching each other in the face. You just need to put some falling blocks together then let the hodown begin.

Nintendo And The Soviet Union Got Along Just Fine

Nintendo And The Soviet Union Got Along Just Fine

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Total Recall is a look back at the history of video games through their characters, franchises, developers and trends.