According to gaming database Mobygames, officially licensed versions of Tetris have appeared on roughly 60 different gaming platforms, from the Oculus Quest to the Data Zapper M7000. Now, thanks to a new McDonald’s China promotion, you can add “giant plastic chicken nugget with an LCD screen” to that list of official Tetris ports (to say nothing of the unofficial ones).
RetroDodo has the story of this strange promotion, which is centered around the 40th anniversary of the Chicken McNugget’s premiere in 1983. That makes the protein-filled treat just a year older than Tetris itself, which was created on a Russian government mainframe computer by Alexei Pajitnov in 1984. And that, apparently, is close enough to make the game part of an International Children’s Day promotion that will “take you on the time machine leading to childhood,” according to a machine translation of the official McDonald’s China webpage announcing the machine.
A video unboxing and demonstration posted by one Chinese McDonald’s fan shows crisp shots of nugget-Tetris and its unlit LCD screen, as well as the included customization stickers and carrying case. Another unboxing video includes a better look at the back of the machine, including a removable battery pack, speaker grate, and power switch.
That second video also includes a welcome size-comparison shot with a real Chicken McNugget, showing the unit is roughly four times as large as the boot-shaped nugget on which it’s based. “This is a pretty sizable nug” as the video reviewer puts it (though it’s got nothing on the world’s largest Tetris, of course).
Nugget-Tetris‘ cheap LCD screen and sound might bring to mind the kind of cheap, unauthorized Tetris knockoffs you might find at the dollar store or flea market. But Retro Dodo’s sources shared an image of the back of the unit, which includes complete copyright, trademark, and licensing information for “Tetris logos, theme and, and Tetriminos,” as well as the game’s “trade dress.” Nice to know that the McDonald’s logo in the corner of the screen speaks to the “official” quality on display here.
From a gaming perspective, the machine gains authenticity points by playing a tinny version of Korobeiniki (aka, “The Tetris song”) at launch and by including a “hard-drop” button that can send a tetromino immediately to the floor. But we definitely have to quibble with the machine’s cramped, 13×9 square playfield (much more compressed than the copyrighted 20×10 standard set by The Tetris Company) and the fact that there’s only a single large rotation button (clockwise). Still, as far as McDonald’s video game promotions are concerned, we’d definitely take this nugget-Tetris over the extremely cheap Sega-themed LCD games that were featured in American Happy Meals during the ’00s.
The fine print on the McDonald’s website says there will only be 400,000 Nugget-Tetris machines available at mainland China locations through June 27, with an additional 100,000 available to users of the Ele.me food delivery app. That means the unit—which is available with food purchase for 30 yuan (about $4.24)—could become one of the rarest officially licensed Tetris games out there, especially in the West. Just wait a decade or so and we’ll bet collectors will be sending unopened “nuggets” off to be graded by Wata Games or some other authentication service.