“I didn’t really think about a Tetris sequel,” Pajitnov says in an interview with Den of Geek. “My thought as a game designer was that Tetris was a complete game and that there was no need for any serious extensions… I understood that there was no point in going there. It just spoiled the pleasure.”
While that is an incredibly noble and commendable answer that will undoubtedly uplift the creative spirits of artists everywhere, Pajitnov’s long-time friend and business partner, Henk Rogers, has a slightly different perspective on that story.
“That’s a game designer’s answer,” Rogers jokes. “I was a publisher at the time, and I remember…maybe the first night or the second night we were together, I asked Alexey about what Tetris 2 would look like. When you make a good movie, you make a sequel. Same thing with Tetris.”
Of course, while Pajitnov never worked on such a direct Tetris sequel, Rogers says he still considers the game’s many spin-offs, reboots, and thematic reimaginings to be sequels of a kind. In 1993, Rogers even helped publish an often-forgotten title named Tetris 2 (which Pajitnov was not creatively involved with) that made numerous changes to the Tetris formula. In a way, though, those games showed Rogers that Pajitnov was right. It turns out that it’s pretty hard to improve upon what Tetris got right the first time around.
“I did publish Tetris 2, but then I thought, ‘What am I going to add to this game?’ It’s perfect,” Rogers says. “It’s tough, because that game is so pure and so clean. When we license Tetris, we always tell the licensees, ‘Go back and look at the original and then start adding stuff.’ Don’t start out in la la land. Understand the core fun of that game and then make your game.”
Of course, just because Pajitnov never designed a slightly more traditional sequel to Tetris doesn’t mean that he hasn’t spent time thinking about what the future of the franchise looks like. Actually, he’s done quite a lot of that over the last 30 years or so as the co-founder of the Tetris Company. He even has some favorite Tetris spin-offs and a few thoughts about what Tetris games still have left to accomplish.