BLOXEED: Introduction of Bloxeed

Table of contents

What is Bloxeed?

BLOXEED is a variant of Tetris, a famous block-falling puzzle game, and was released in 1990 from Sega Enterprises (Sega Interactive, later merged into Sega Corporation). Sega's TETRIS (released in 1988), FLASH POINT (1989), and Bloxeed were considered as a trilogy of Sega's arcade Tetris variants around the 1990s and they were all ported to PlayStation 2 with the title SEGA AGES 2500 Vol. 28 Tetris Collection (released in 2006, Japan only).

The first sequel of Tetris (hereafter oblique Tetris indicates Sega's 1988 variant) was a blockbuster in the Japanese video arcade gaming scene; Tetris had already consolidated itself with attractive mechanics, but this Tetris provided a different feeling of control by adopting lock delay unlike Atari one (arcade, in February 1989) and Nintendo ones (both of NES and Game Boy), which improved maneuverability at higher speed. Tetris's speed curve is well-balanced with the lock delay and it even has vexing piece orders yielded by its unique random number generator. After many people had achieved a maxout (hitting 999,999 points and 999 lines), some of the elite players pursued for the least lines to hit one million points, with or without all clears (Tetris has the power-on pattern, so later people preferred to try minimizing lines without getting all clears). Tetris was one of the very few games that enjoyed longevity through decades in the Japanese arcade industry.

The two descendants were not that popular as its predecessor, but they gave challenges to the super players of Tetris -- Flash Point was released next year. It has no endless mode and instead it consists of 100 stages with fixed patterns, and the objective of the game is to erase all of the flashing cells in the playfield. As you play Flash Point, the patterns of stages are getting more difficult to solve, and the speed of falling blocks getting harsher: Firstly, the level doesn't decrease at the start of every stage after elapsing around 15 minutes with a single credit. Secondly, the speed is fixed to 2G ("G" stands for the unit of gravity that drops pieces 1 cell down per frame (about 1/60 seconds), and 2G is double as fast as the maximum speed of Tetris) after around 25 minutes. Flash Point was the first-ever Sega game to feature double speed*1.

None of Sega's Tetris trilogy have a button to rotate pieces clockwise, and it significantly restricts the player's maneuvers of movement, combined with 2G gravity. However, Flash Point was eventually conquered (with a single credit, without skipping any stages) by several players with amazing intelligence and staggering skill to create strategies to beat some stages infamous for the possibility of instant death or extremely long steps to dig down the field.

Finally, Bloxeed, the last game of this trilogy, featured a versus mode for the first time, but the solo game followed the endless style of Tetris with two new twists, making this game quite challenging and making the situation drastically changes.

The first feature is constant garbage rising. Playfields of Bloxeed have a gauge with 5 meters on each player's side and once it's filled with red lamps, a garbage line appears on the bottom, repeating in the period of 32 lines. It is easy to deal with during the lower speed, but the cycle of receiving garbage is getting faster and faster as the level progresses. In the end, you have to deal with a garbage line per 2-4 pieces unless you shave lines or use a power block. Moreover, Bloxeed has a "high-speed mode" feature, increasing the gravity from 1G to 2G beyond a certain level; the highest speed with the fastest cycle of garbage makes Bloxeed obnoxiously difficult to survive, as was said to be "too difficult to play it endlessly." (The original quote in Japanese)

Bloxeed also has beneficial items for the player: The items named "power blocks" occasionally appear and help you cleaning your stack or fill lines to boost the score. Some people easily achieved the maxout of the score very early since its release by utilizing the power blocks. Still, though, nobody even came close to the maxout of the line count and the highest record (as of 2020) still stood at 500-and-something and it is enough to conclude that the maxout of Bloxeed is one of the most difficult achievements in the Tetris video game franchise. *2

Basic rules

Our readers already know of the common rules of Tetris regardless of variants, so we enumerate the basic characteristics (mostly shared with Tetris from Sega in 1988):

A decimal number followed by F and s (e.g. 60F(1.00s)) stands for frames (in NTSC format, about 1/60 seconds) and seconds. (The example means 60 frames or 1.00 seconds.)

Tab.1 Gravity (frames to drop by one cell)
Level Easy Normal Hard Hardest
0 24 16 12 12
1 20 14 10 10
2 18 12 8 8
3 16 10 6 6
4 14 8 5 5
5 12 6 4 4
6 10 4 3 3
7 8 3 2 2
8 6 2 1 1
9 4 1 1 1
10 12 10 8 8
11 10 8 6 6
12 8 6 4 4
13 6 4 2 2
14 4 2 1 1
15 1 1 1 1
50*3 0.5 0.5 0.5 0.5
Tab. 2: List of Scoring
Level Single Double Triple Tetris S. Drop
0-1 100 400 900 2,000 1
2-3 200 800 1,800 4,000 2
4-5 300 1,200 2,700 6,000 3
6-7 400 1,600 3,600 8,000 4
8-99 500 2,000 4,500 10,000 (<1G*5) 5

All clear*6 10 × line clear point
Activating a power block*7 5,000
Removing one cell by Satellite*7 10
All clear by Satellite (LEVEL+1)×2,000
All clear by 16t and Bomb 0
Tab. 3: Level timer per level
Level Required Time
0 3,480F (58.00s)
1-8 2,320F (38.67s)
9-10 3,480F (58.00s)
11-14 1,740F (29.00s)
15-99 3,480F (58.00s)

Grabage lines

The playfields of Bloxeed have a meter with 5 lamps, on the right side for Player 1 and the left side for Player 2. The meter is always filling up (regardless of delays other than during power block activation) and whenever the meter is filled up with 5 red blinking lamps and a block is locked without erasing lines, a garbage line will spawn at the bottom of the playfield. the meter is consumed once the garbage line spawns, and it starts filling up again with the constant speed. This is how the garbage lines are occasionally spawning. The exceptional cases are following:

The garbage is sent by one line per once, and the pattern is fixed and simply looping in the period of 32 lines, as shown in Fig. 1; right-side I followed by J, L, 2 Zs, 2 Ss, left-side I, 2 Os and 2 Ts. For every 4 lines, the garbage lines are colored corresponding to the shape of holes. For the first 24 lines, the position of the hole of the garbages swaps from right to left and from left to right alternately, so when you are solving the holes on one side you should not stack the other side too high, to prepare for the next chunk of lines. Additionally, the last 8 lines have a long center hole, with the last T-shaped hole shifting to the left. These lines are particularly annoying because you usually encounter them for the first time at around Level 20 (unless you are intentionally stacking slow to accept more garbages). Surviving through an entire pattern of garbages is a notable milestone to check how you improve your skill.

Fig. 1 The pattern of garbage lines (fumen)

The speed at which the garbage meter fills depends on the level, and it becomes faster in the further levels. (Tab. 4) You receive a garbage line for every 8 seconds for the first 10 levels, but after Level 10, the period becomes significantly shorter and shorter, ultimately only 1.55 seconds need to fill the meter at Level 40 and beyond (The speed are the same regardless of difficulty which is adjustable with dip switches).

Tab. 4: Speed of garbage meter [wiki]
Level Required time per lamp
0-9 99F (1.65s)
10-12 79F (1.31s)
13-14 69F (1.15s)
15-16 59F (0.98s)
17-18 49F (0.81s)
19-30 39F (0.65s)
31-39 29F (0.48s)
40-99 19F (0.31s)

Power blocks

Bloxeed sometimes offers a piece that contains a cell (with a letter or number on it) called "power block" which will be activated when the cell is cleared. Five different power blocks have different effects, and except "4 Lines", a character will appear in your playfield and you can find some cameo appearances of other Sega's arcade games. The common characteristics of each power block are following:

Tab. 5: The list of power blocks, sorted by the priority high to low (4 is the top priority)
Letter Name Effect
4 4 Lines This is the only power block without a character and it takes effect immediately after being activated.
Clear up to four lines of the stack after activation. It clears the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th rows counting from the top, but if the stack height is less than 7, missing lines are ignored. (e.g. If the stack is only 1 height, it clears that line awarding all clear bonus, and nothing happens in the case of 0.)
This line clear is counted as if you cleared lines with a tetrimino (they are added to LINES count, scores a clear point, and also count towards level progression) regardless of how many cells are filled in these lines.
F Flicky Flicky (a blue bird as a protagonist of the 1984 game Flicky) appears in your playfield and descends to the bottom. You can control her with the lever. Flicky has a hitbox with a height of 2 and a width of 1.
Whenever you push the rotate button, she drops a cyan cell directly below. If a line is completed this way, it is cleared. (During the line clear delay, you can also stack multiple complete lines to award higher points.)
Lines cleared by Flicky count toward LINES count and line clear points are scored, but if 5 or more lines are cleared at once, the resulting score corresponds to the remainder of the number divided by 4 (A reminder of 0 is considered as Tetris).
Unlike 4 Lines, lines cleared by Flicky do not count towards level progression.
Using the auto-fire system which enables you to press buttons more than 30 times per second, there will be several glitches with Flicky: the background music suddenly stops or Flicky can put cells even it penetrates the ground.
S Satellite*8
A satellite (from the 1987 game SDI: Strategic Defense Initiative) appears in your playfield and descends to the bottom. You can control it with the lever. It has a hitbox with a height of 2 and a width of 1.
Whenever you push the rotate button, it fires a shot directly below, and if the shot hits a cell, the cell is destroyed and awards you 10 points regardless of the current level and difficulty.
If you successfully cleared all the cells in the playfield before the satellite touches the bottom, A message "GOOD !!" shows up and gives extra (LEVEL+1)×2,000 points (the maximum bonus awarded in this way is 200,000 when Level is 99).
16 16 Ton A heavy bomb (a weapon from the 1986 game Fantasy Zone with a shape of heavy weight) appears in your playfield and descends to the bottom. You can control it with the lever. It has a hitbox with a height of 2 and a width of 3.
The rotate button does nothing. When the heavy bomb is touching the surface and locked, cells of the three columns below the heavy bomb are completely removed.
It affects the cells only below the heavy bomb while the bomb completely removes the cells above it.
B Bomb A red bomb (it's not a cameo appearance of Sega's games) appears in your playfield and descends to the bottom. You can control it with the lever. It has a hitbox with a height of 2 and a width of 2.
The rotate button does nothing. When the bomb is touching the surface and locked, the red cells shown in Fig. 3 are completely removed.
The bomb has a width of 2 but the explosion affects the adjacent columns of both sides. Cells in these 4 columns above the bomb are removed, and it digs down up to 3 rows.

Tab. 6: Power block descent speed
Level Required time per cell
0-2 51F (0.85s)
3-4 41F (0.68s)
5 31F (0.51s)
6-9 21F (0.35s)
10 31F (0.51s)
11 21F (0.35s)
12 19F (0.31s)
13 17F (0.28s)
14 15F (0.25s)
15-99 13F (0.21s)
Fig,2 (fumen)
Fig. 3 Effectiveness of B (Bomb) (fumen)

[*1] In those days the speed is called as "2 cell mode" (2セルモード). Bloxeed's counterpart was colloquially named "high-speed mode," but not mentioned in the dip switch guide, stated the switch "NOT USED."
[*2] Mr. Takahiro Yagi(八木 貴弘 Yagi Takahiro), also known as world_champon or Mizushimaya T. J. (水島屋T.J.), the first Sega Tetris champion, reflected the story of location tests of Bloxeed where he maxed out the lines and score of Bloxeed's prototype version. (also see Tetris Wiki - Maxout)
[*3] The high-speed mode can be disabled with the certain dip switch, making this value "1" (equivalent to 1G speed). Note that the factory setting is a prerequisite in the official submission so you have to enable high-speed mode to submit your score.
[*4] The line number required to progress a level is 4 in Tetris, Flash Point, and Bloxeed released outside Japan, but the Japan version of Bloxeed is 3. Also, Japan's Bloxeed can adjust this value from 2 to 4 with certain dip switches.
[*5] As explained above, drop points are zero if current gravity is 1G or higher; for example in Normal difficulty, 5 points per cell is given at Level 8 and 10-14, but not at Level 9 and Level 15 (and beyond).
[*6] All clear bonus applies to lines erased by Flicky and 4 lines as well, but Satellite has a unique system of all clear bonus and there's no bonus by using Bomb and 16 Ton. (as in Tab. 2)
[*7] These scores are constant, regardless of the current level and difficulty.
[*8] Shot(ショット) in the Japanese version.

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