Ecstasy Of Order – The Tetris Masters (2011/Reclusion/Music
Video Distributors DVD)
Picture: B- Sound: B- Extras: C+ Film: B+
Video games hold a special place in my heart; they very much shaped my
childhood and in many ways made me who I am today. To this day I am a gamer and
collector of vintage gaming; a hobby that continues to grow, garnering not only
extreme nostalgic interest, but also the financial gain (loss) that comes with
Ecstasy of Order:
The Tetris Masters is a 2011 documentary that chronicles the road to finding
the world’s (USA’s?) greatest Tetris player.
The 2010 Tetris World Championship took place in Los Angeles, CA as it
challenged some of the game’s best to battle it out for the number one
spot. The film directed by Adam
Cornelius starts by following Oregon Tetris enthusiast Robin Mihara as he
becomes enthralled with finding the greatest Tetris player in the world. His mission starts when he comes upon a
website (arcade facility) called Twin Galaxies that has been tracking video
game/arcade high scores since the 1980s.
He quickly discovers that two individuals Harry Hong and Jonas Neubauer
who have maxed out on Tetris, achieving a score of 999,999. While finding the highest scorers, he also
found the individual who achieved the most line completions, Ben Mullen with
Even after tracking down these Tetris greats amongst others (Dana
Wilcox and Jesse Keklar), there remains a question that weighs heavy on Robin’s
mind; what happened to Thor Aackerlund?
Thor Aackerlund was the winner of the 1990 Nintendo World Championship;
a competition that pitted the best Nintendo NES players against each other with
the games Super Mario Bros, Rad Racer, and a final ultimate round of Tetris. Thor beat out millions of other children and
adults to become the grand champion. His
win at that 1990 championship has become something of legend and for the most
part he had not been seen or heard from in years. Robin made it his goal to find him and invite
him to the 2010 Tetris World Championship; for Robin was not only a fan of Thor
and the 1990 Nintendo World Championship, but a former 1990 competitor himself
(as were some of the other Tetris masters).
The documentary is extraordinarily good as it not only excitingly
archives the path to the Tetris World Championship, but harkens back to the
original 1990 World Championship; with about 25% of the film focusing on that
1990 Nintendo World Championship. Many
videos that I had never seen before from the 1990 Championship (and I fancy
myself an expert) appear in this film and manage to elicit feelings of fond
nostalgia and rejuvenated gaming admiration.
The film is a fun and fine balance of the previously mentioned early
Nintendo nostalgia and modern enthusiasm for vintage games. The documentary is well done from beginning
The technical features are nothing fancy as the DVD does not live up
to today’s Blu-ray standards, but is nice nevertheless. The 93 minute feature is presented in a 16 X
9 wide screen presentation that is nothing fancy, but doesn’t have many
light/dark issues, no debris, and has a nice color palette. The film feels blunted at times and not as
crisp as a Blu-ray release would be. The
sound is a simple Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo that comes mostly from the front as
this is dialogue heavy.
The extras are few but include a nice short documentary on a player
attempting to achieve the high score on an Asteroids arcade machine (playing
for well over 50 hours straight). Other
extras include Deleted Scenes, Extended Scenes, Original Trailers, and Full
World Record Games.
Go buy this DVD! It will bring
many people’s childhood, give a hefty dose of gaming history, and exemplify
that vintage gaming is quite alive!
Michael P. Dougherty II