Title text: There's also a Katamari level where everything is just slightly bigger than you, and a Mario level with a star just out of reach.
Tetris is a game where the player has to manipulate falling blocks into forming complete rows, which will then be deleted and give points to the player. This comic is a play on this, presenting the player with a version of the game with a curved bottom that renders forming flat rows nearly impossible. Hell is a mythological and/or religious concept of a posthumous punishment for wrongdoers, depicted in many religions as eternal torment. Here the Tetris player feels they are in Hell when they try to play this game.
The title text presents similar situations where frustration is likely to occur. Katamari Damacy is a video game in which the player controls a sticky sphere which grows by assimilating objects smaller than itself, so gameplay would be extremely frustrating if none of the objects available is smaller than your sphere. Super Mario is a long-running franchise of platforming games; in some of the games (beginning with Super Mario 64), levels are completed by collecting large, golden Power Stars – so it would be very frustrating if one is impossible to reach.
There actually is a star in Super Mario 64 that is just out of reach in the A Button Challenge, where the goal is to minimize the number of presses of the A button. The star Treasure of the Ocean Cave is just 24 units too high to be reached without using the A button, and no alternative method has been found yet to get it without pressing A. As of February 16 2023 however, this star has been solved in 0.5 A presses, which means it only requires A to be held, and not pressed. Thus, in a full-game run, it can use an A press from earlier in the run.
This last part may also be a reference to the Ancient Greek myth of Tantalus; as punishment for cannibalism, he suffers in Hades, confined to a pool with a fruit tree above it. As his punishment, the fruit branches on the tree recoil every time he tries to eat, and the water recedes every time he tries to drink.
Also see comic 888: Heaven, which presents an inverse situation in which the Tetris game provides unfairly perfect pieces to help the player win.
There is a playable version of this comic at Kongregate which, unsurprisingly, is frustratingly difficult (but not impossible) to play. Another playable version of the game with similar graphics experience and tweaked game design (has an Easy mode and challenge modes) is also released on Itch.io here.
- [The panel shows the display of a Tetris game where the bottom of the pit is curved into a semicircle making the two blocks at the bottom, a square and a reverse L piece lean crookedly towards each other at the bottom of the pit; an S piece is falling and the next piece is an L piece.]
- [Below the panel:]
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