Who among us hasn’t squandered precious hours of their life just trying to raise their score on Tetris by a few more points? It’s one of the few games that is recognizable to almost everybody on the planet, and its ubiquity at this point has likely surpassed even Pong and Pac-Man. We’ve all played it, we’ve all watched others play it—it’s possible some of us have received stackable Tetris LED desk lamps for the holidays, though we certainly wouldn’t know who. The point is, we’re all deeply, deeply familiar with the game.
That’s why it’s important to note that we’re not being hyperbolic here in saying that watching gamer Kevin Birrell beat Tetris (and not just any version, but Tetris: The Grand Master on its highest setting) in seven and a half minutes is fucking incredible. It’s like watching a computer run a high-speed simulation of the program through to its end. By the time he gets to the credits, and he’s having to eliminate invisible layers based purely on memory, the whole thing takes on a surreal air. See for yourself:
But that’s not all. Birrell is performing this feat at Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ), a video game exhibition where highly skilled gamers play through games as fast as possible. Plus, the event raises money for charity—in this case, the Prevent Cancer Foundation. So after beating the game, Birrell also takes a run at the Shirase mode of Tetris: The Grand Master 3, a comically fast process that plops the shapes only a hair’s breadth above your drop zone. While he doesn’t beat this level (a feat he frankly acknowledges is essentially impossible), it’s also very worth seeing, just to understand how fast his reflexes really are. Again, hyperbole aside: fucking incredible.