The video game Tetris has been completed by a human for the first time since its release. Willis “blue scuti” Gibson beat the game during a livestream, triggering the "true kill screen" on level 157.
Tetris has been around for a while, so you might have assumed it would be complete by now. After all, it's not like a game of Zelda or Skyrim where you can complete all the side quests and put off the main quest until long after you've lost all interest in completing the main game.
For years, people believed that level 29 – where the speed maxes out – was the final level of the game. However, after decades of experimenting with different methods, dedicated gamers were able to beat it. Despite progress through the levels, nobody made it to an end screen. Instead, as the levels went on, they begin to glitch, turning the bricks unusual colors.
In 2021, programmer Greg Cannon created StackRabbit, a Tetris-playing artificial intelligence (AI) program that was able to go even further through the glitchy levels. The AI went past level 235 (which lasted for 800 lines instead of around 10) to level 237, at which point the game stopped functioning, freezing entirely.
In lieu of a big screen saying "well done" or a cut scene showing the bricks going back home to their families, this has become known to gamers as the true end of the game, when it can no longer function.
"The game’s code starts to become really inefficient on very high levels, because no one was expected to get this far, and eventually a glitch happens where the game switches from reading instructions from the code to reading the RAM as if it were code," YouTuber aGameScout explains. "If the resulting garble generates a stop command, it completely breaks the game, leading to it being called the true killscreen."
Skip to 10:00 minutes to see the winning run.
As explained by aGameScout, the Tetris community began researching the kill screen error, discovering that it could be triggered earlier than level 237 by clearing a single line, at a far more achievable level 155. This wasn't too far above levels that the world record-holders were achieving, but it still took some time before, in late December 2023, Gibson was able to grind his way through the glitched levels all the way to level 155. However, he missed his chance to try and trigger the error, and had to continue on to level 157 for the next chance. Here he achieved the kill screen, becoming the first human to complete Tetris.
"When I started playing this game I never expected to ever crash the game, or beat it," Gibson said on his YouTube channel, adding "this run was also the Overall Score, Level, Lines, and 19 Score world record."