NES Tetris: What is faster than Hypertapping?

Source: gerlos (via Flickr)

By Elie Gould | Technology Editor

Despite being around for almost 35 years, competitive NES Tetris has only had two viable playstyles. However, 2020 brought us the first update to this in over a decade with the invention of rolling.

Instead of getting too carried with this new playstyle, let’s go back over the traditional two ways for clarity. Firstly, the most mainstream technique for competitive NES Tetris is Delayed Auto-Shift or DAS. DAS is the simple technique of holding down the D button. Once pressed, the command fires once, then after a short delay, the action continues firing until the button is no longer pressed.

The second playstyle is the infamous Hypertapping. Now, this technique was much rarer than DAS due to its difficulty. By holding the controller differently and vibrating your fingers on the buttons, Hypertappers can avoid the slight command delay that DAS users experience. Therefore gaining an advantage in their speed of shifting and placing the blocks. This being said, tapping the D-pad 12 times per second is no mean feat.

Meaning that until 2017 DAS players dominated the competitive scene. However, 2018 saw Hypertappers come into their own. Since then, this style has won almost every single tournament out there. The most recent world championship saw all eight competitors using this playstyle.

One of these formidable players was Cheez or CheeZ_fish on Twitch. This same Hypertapper was the first person to practice and use the new rolling technique in NES Tetris.

Cheez was inspired by Hector Fly Rodriguez, who specialised in arcade cabinet games; rolling emerged out of his style to roll both hands over the arcade buttons. This technique proved to be much faster than any attempt to hit a button repeatedly with one hand.

Obviously, you can’t roll your hands across an NES controller; it’s too small. Coupled with the fact that holding the controller in different ways is uncomfortable for long periods, many thought this style was incompatible with NES Tetris.

Instead, Cheez began to roll his fingers on the bottom of the controller. This action pushed the controller into his thumb, which he held over the D-pad. Therefore, effectively creating the back of the controller into a giant button to roll.

This new style gave Cheez the ability to button press consistently over 20 times per second. A far cry from Hypertappings 12 hertz.

The first big breakthrough in this technique came on December 14th 2020, when Cheez uploaded the first-ever completion of 19-5. Renowned for being the most brutal mode in NES Tetris since 1989.

If you want to look at Cheez and rolling in action, I suggest watching WPL classic Tetris opening #5. This game was the first time someone scored 4 Tetris’s past level 29 and the first 1.3 million score.

This new technique is not only an exciting new feature in the world of NES Tetris but gives all the DAS players out there some hope to maybe one day be faster than the Hypertappers.

Science and Technology

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