It’s 2019 and gamers are still widening the limits of NES game boundaries. Take, for example, YouTuber SKELUX uncovering a decades-hidden testing area in The Legend of Zelda, dubbed as the “the minus world.” Or, as per this past week, 16-year-old Joseph Saelee, who not only dethroned the previous Tetris World Champion Jonas Neubauer last December, but has recently managed to surpass the supposed “kill screen” in the NES version of Tetris.
This past Friday, Saelee accomplished the impossible by surpassing Level 29 of Tetris and reaching Level 33. Level 29 of Tetris has been recognized as the game’s “kill screen” for decades, meaning it’s a looping end-game for players who’ve reached the level. The choice to cap Tetris off at Level 29 is due to both NES limitations, and developers believing the line-up speed of Tetris would be too fast for the game and players to keep up. Saelee proved the game’s limitations wrong on Friday, using the challenging “hyper-tap” technique, which allows player to move Tetrimino pieces at more than 10-taps per second, to break through Level 29.
In the above video, beginning at 8:53, Saelee hyper-taps his way to surpass Level 29 and clear through level 33 before losing, in less than 60 seconds. A brilliant accomplishment from a talented student of Tetris.
Kevin Cortez is a writer with bylines at Genius, Ambrosia for Heads, Mass Appeal, Leafly and EARMILK. He plays video games in his spare time.