Tetris The Grand Master

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Tetris The Grand Master
TGM flyer.jpg
Arcade flyer for Tetris The Grand Master
  • JP: August, 1998
SequelTetris The Absolute The Grand Master 2
Gameplay info
Next pieces1
Playfield size10 × 20
Hold pieceNo
Hard dropNo
Rotation systemARS
Arika tgm1 title.jpg
Arika tgm1 ingame.jpg

Tetris The Grand Master[a] is an arcade game released exclusively in Japan, and the first game of the TGM series. Players place pieces and clear lines as the game goes on, increasing their grade along the way.

At later levels, the game will force them to keep up with the high speeds using special techniques; in addition to the Initial Rotation System introduced in the game. The game is known for being one of Arika's popular games to this day, and later installments would introduce modes with their own gameplay and objective.


TGM's gameplay is heavily inspired by it's arcade predecessor, Sega's Tetris released 10 years earlier. It uses a modified rotation system, color scheme, and relies heavily on mechanics such as lock delay. Another game which inspired TGM is TETRIS SEMIPRO-68k, a fan game which was the first to introduce 20G gravity.

The main goal in TGM is to score points, awarding the player a higher grade. The game ends when a player reaches level 999. If the player scored enough points, they will be awarded with the grade S9. To achieve the grade GM, the player must also meet some time requirements during play. If the player tops out before reaching level 999, the game ends, awarding the player the current grade and it's "mastering time", the time at which the grade was awarded during gameplay.


Level has a unique implementation in TGM. The level counter will increase by 1 for every piece that enters the playfield. It will also increase by 1 for each line cleared.

When the player is about to increment the hundreds digit (e.g., level 399), only line clears will increase the level. Level 998 is treated similarly, with a final line clear required to reach 999 and finish.


Main article: IRS

Abbreviation for Initial Rotation System.

Normally a piece will appear in the rotation showed in the piece preview. With IRS, holding either the left or right rotation button will cause the piece to appear rotated 90 degrees. This allows the player a higher degree of freedom when placing pieces at higher game speeds.


Main article: ghost piece

Abbreviation for Temporary Landing System This system is a semi-transparent representation of where the piece will land if allowed to drop into the playfield. It is displayed up to level 100.


The Grand Master shares the same scoring mechanisms of many other Tetris games:

  • The player receive more points for clearing more lines at once.
  • Lines are worth more with each passing level.
  • The player receive points for forcing a piece down. (Although only when this results in cleared lines, unlike in some other games.)
  • The player receive a combo bonus for clearing lines with consecutive pieces.
  • The player receive a bravo bonus for clearing the entire playfield.

Scoring formula


  • Level is the current level the player is on (before the lines are cleared).
  • Lines is the number of lines the player just cleared.
  • is rounded up.
  • Soft is the cumulative number of frames during which Down was held during the piece's active time. Manually locking pieces already on the ground will increase Soft by 1.
  • Locking a piece without clearing lines resets Combo to 1. Otherwise, the game updates Combo as follows, before calculating Score:
    E.g., a double-triple-single combo will have combo values 3, 7, and 7 respectively.
  • Bravo is equal to 4 if this piece has cleared the screen, and otherwise is 1.


In TGM grade is entirely determined by score. As the player passes certain milestones, the game will assign the player the next grade.

Grade Conditions
Grade Required Score Grade Required Score
9 0 S1 16,000
8 400 S2 22,000
7 800 S3 30,000
6 1,400 S4 40,000
5 2,000 S5 52,000
4 3,500 S6 66,000
3 5,500 S7 82,000
2 8,000 S8 100,000
1 12,000 S9 120,000
GM Grade Conditions
Level Required Score Time
300 12,000 (Grade 1) =<04:15:00
500 40,000 (Grade S4) =<07:30:00
999 126,000
(slightly higher than S9)

Secret grade

Main article: Secret Grade Techniques

Secret grade is a hidden grading system that recognizes a ">" pattern in the playfield by leaving holes. The first hole becomes Secret grade 9, and each subsequent hole increasing the grade until row 19, the GM grade. The player must top out to have the Secret grade awarded. A minimum grade of 5 is needed to see the message.

Vs. Mode

If the arcade operator has enabled Vs. mode, two players can start a Vs. game. One player must first start a game, and during any point of that game the second player may press start to challenge them, and begin a game.

When the player clears 2 or more lines at once, those lines will be sent to their opponent's playfield as garbage lines. If the match does not end within 5 minutes, the game ends in a draw.

Item blocks

Item blocks can be used to attack or defend from the player's opponent.

Clearing lines will fill up the item meter adjacent to a player's playfield. When the meter is full an item block is dealt to the player. They may use it by clearing a line which the piece is part of.

There are 18 different item blocks.

Attack items
DEATH BLOCK Makes the opponent's next block big.
NEGA FIELD Flip the playfield's occupied cells to empty, and empty cells to occupied.
SPIN FIELD Rotate the opponent's field for a short time.
180° FIELD Rotate the playfield upside down and move the newly rotated cells down.
SHOT GUN! Randomly shoot a group of holes in the opponent's stack.
HARD BLOCK The opponent's next piece must be cleared twice to be removed from the playfield.
LASER BLOCK Remove a column of holes in the opponent's stack. The attacker many move the laser by pressing left and right.
ROLL ROLL The opponent's next 3 pieces are auto rotating by a fixed interval.
TRANS FORM The opponent's next 3 pieces will change tetromino every time the piece is rotated.
X-RAY A partially invisible effect is applied to the opponent's stack for a short period.
PRESS FIELD Shrinks the opponent's playfield for a short period.
Defense items
↑ DEL FIELD Deletes the upper half of the player's playfield.
↓ DEL FIELD Deletes the lower half of the player's playfield.
→ MOV FIELD Push every cell in the player's playfield to the right.
← MOV FIELD Push every cell in the player's playfield to the left.
DEL EVEN Deletes every 2nd row in the player's playfield.
Special items
FREE FALL Forces all cells to move down in the player's playfield removing any holes.
EXCHG FIELD Swaps the player's and opponent's playfield.

Hidden modes

All codes must be entered at the title screen. Codes may be combined (i.e. Big 20G mode + Reverse Monochrome mode.) Scores achieved using codes will not be stored on the high score table.

Key: L = Left, D = Down, U = Up, R = Right

20G mode
20G Mode

Immediately enables maximum gravity (20G).

Big mode
Big Mode

Tetrominoes are twice normal size, simulating play in a 5x10 playfield
Input code: LLLLDCBA

Rev mode
Rev Mode

Play in reverse! Pieces will spawn at the bottom of the playfied and "fall" upwards
Input code: DUUDCBA

Mono mode
Mono Mode

All tetrominoes are monochrome
Input code: RRRUCBA

TLS mode
TLS Mode

Shows the "Temporary Landing System" aka "ghost piece" for the entirety of the game, not just 0-100
Input code: ABCCBAACB

Uki mode
Uki Mode

Instead of line clear sound effect when clearing multiple lines, a child's voice will say "Uki" repeatedly, the japanese word for the sound a monkey makes. The child will say "Waaahhh!" instead if the player scores a Tetris.

Other modes

  • No item VS (Play VS mode without item blocks):
    Hold both player Start buttons together before the match begins.

Speed timings

Gravity does not increase uniformly, unlike many other tetris games. It rises and falls, depending on the level as shown in the table below.

The unit for gravity is G (rows per frame), as a fraction with a constant denominator of 256. This means G = Internal Gravity/256. For example, at levels 90 through 99, the gravity is 64/256G, or 1/4G.

Internal Gravity
Level Internal Gravity
(1/256 G)
Level Internal Gravity
(1/256 G)
0 4 220 32
30 6 230 64
35 8 233 96
40 10 236 128
50 12 239 160
60 16 243 192
70 32 247 224
80 48 251 256 (1G)
90 64 300 512 (2G)
100 80 330 768 (3G)
120 96 360 1024 (4G)
140 112 400 1280 (5G)
160 128 420 1024 (4G)
170 144 450 768 (3G)
200 4 500 5120 (20G)

Unlike TGM2, the line clear delay, lock delay, ARE and DAS do not change throughout the game. The following are the timing values adjusted to what a player would observe, including inclusive DAS counting.

Level ARE
Line clear
000 - 999 30 16 30 41
  • The player's DAS charge is unmodified during line clear delay, the first 4 frames of ARE, the last frame of ARE, and the frame on which a piece spawns.


The tables below provide verified lists of archives and files to make sure that Tetris the Grand Master can be emulated properly. There aren't any guides, at this point, for dumping these required files from a PCB; but these files can be searched out on the Internet.

Downloadable Archives
Archive MD5 Hash
tgmj.zip 7fcc8a72b4bc1f3340e1db4724b0628d
coh3002c.zip 4f97958fe67444637b5c6700fb62849c
cpzn2.zip 99304c05983b337217ab4b56400a14ac
qsound_hle.zip 758388893761ea3ff0d820f60344a38e
Required BIOS Files
File MD5 Hash
cp10.ic652 26574f621b61ea09eef08e8a7eba5a65
m534002c-59.ic353 1254b215f64aee1f83895e0213a9ac82
coh-3002c.353 1254b215f64aee1f83895e0213a9ac82
dl-1425.bin 108b113a596e800a02fece73f784eeb0
Required TGM Files
File MD5 Hash
ate_02.2e 591fe13727496e4037e53cc834e24ccd
ate-01m.3a b832063bef8d81ff6a318f39da6f4c74
ate-05m.3h 99740df1cf1201a4efe5d5b2c4806425
ate-06m.4h 2188d3a9be4769a21e44d33cbfbd2024
atej_04.2h 14e13f937163b6db734d3220a017bfc0
cp11 439f9c44559f2f4761d433dd4b96866d

The current version of MAME is capable of running Tetris the Grand Master. MAME can either be run as a standalone program on Windows or the Macintosh, or as a core through other Emulator frontends such as RetroArch or OpenEmu (Experimental). It is recommended that all of the BIOS files from the above archives are added into the "tgmj.zip" archive before importing the game into an emulator. If the tgmj.zip archive is imported without the BIOS files inside, the emulator will report numerous file requirement errors, or it will simply not start.

Physical scans

Capcom Sony ZN-2, JP
Tetris The Grand Master arcade PCB.jpg
PCB, 244×245×50 mm


  1. Japanese: テトリス・ザ・グランドマスター Hepburn: Tetorisu Za Gurando Masutā

External links