• Published 15th Apr 2012
  • 18,617 Views, 463 Comments

The Elements of Gaming - HellRyden



The Mane 6 get mailed an Xbox 360 from Princess Celestia for beta testing. Shenanigans ensue.

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Tetris

The Elements of Gaming 3.5
Tetris

By Ryden, Xephfyre and Krimzon_Flygon

--

"Twilight?" Spike called apprehensively. "Are you alright?"

The only answer was a grunt from the other side of the door. Twilight was in no mood to answer. Eyes bloodshot, mane mangled, and looking overall like Applejack had last Applebuck Season, Twilight had cleaned the library like a pony possessed, moving almost mechanically as she crammed books clumsily into random spots.

Spike’s attempts at communication during this period had earned him a withering glare, one the baby dragon felt almost actually cut through his scales.

The moment the last book was stuffed into the shelf, she stormed past Spike and Owlicious, rounded the stairs and stormed straight into her room, slamming the door behind her.

But even a comfortable bed and soft pillow granted Twilight no reprieve. Her attempts to fall asleep had plunged her into a nightmare. In it, she stood frozen while a living wave slowly made its way towards her, a virtual wall of crazed-looking Pinkie Pies crawling towards her at an agonizing pace, plumes of thick smoke billowing from the chainsaws they (somehow) held in their hooves.

Twilight pulled a pillow over her head, sighing deeply... she couldn't keep this up... she was going insane!

"Twilight, please come out of there!" Spike's voice rang through the door.

"Go away."

Spike's voice came again. "Twilight, you have to come out, the Princess is at the door!"

"Yeah, very funny. Nice try, Spike."

"No, seriously, Twilight! The Princess is here and she wants to talk to you...!" Spike sounded almost urgent at this point: when did he become such a good liar...?

Twilight leaned upward, glaring at the door. "I'M NOT HERE RIGHT NOW, SPIKE! LEAVE ME ALONE!"

A deathly silence fell over the library for a second, and then a new voice: wise and patient, a hint of kind understanding. "Well, that's unfortunate. I was looking forward to seeing her and she's not here right now. Perhaps you ask her to send me a message when she 'gets back'?"

Twilight leapt out of bed, hurtling across the room, the 'open' spell she cast nearly ripping the door off its hinges. She took a split second glance around the room, and the bottom dropped out of her stomach.

"P-p-princess Celestia!"

The white Alicorn watched in mild amusement as her student began babbling, desperately trying to apologize. Sensing her student’s distress, she held out a hoof to calm Twilight, soothing her. With her mentor’s serene presence at hand, the lavender unicorn gradually fell silent.

"I apologize if I've caught you at a bad time, Twilight. You seem very stressed out right now."

"Stressed?" Twilight's voice cracked at the word. "I'm... I'm fine! Just... needed to finish some things in my room... got caught up in my work, that's all."

Celestia gave a knowing smile. "Twilight Sparkle, I've been around a long time, and I know when somepony's stressed... AND when somepony's lying to me."

Twilight nodded automatically, trying to fight the tears springing to her eyes. Celestia stepped forward, wiping her student's tears away with a gentle hoof. "It's alright, Twilight. You've done a great job so far. Now... I have a suggestion for you."

Twilight looked up at her mentor. "Anything, Princess."

Celestia looked back at something draped over her back: a brown saddlebag that Twilight just noticed was there. Celestia's horn glowed and the bag opened, a small box extracting itself from its depths. "I have here a game I personally think you'll like. It's brand new piece from the University of Technological Innovation, and I would like you to test it. However..." She held up a hoof before Twilight had a chance to speak. "I suggest you play this game alone."

"A-alone?" Twilight was stunned: of all the suggestions she expected the Princess to make, ignoring her friends was not on the top of the list. "But what about..."

"Your friends? You seem to need a bit of time apart from them right now, if I'm not mistaken. Yes, I know I never stop talking about ‘The Magic of Friendship’." She added with a self-mocking smile. "But magic can be physically and mentally draining, am I correct?"

Twilight nodded. "Yes... friendship and the ability to connect with others is extremely important. But it's still inherently stressful, and everypony needs some solitude every once in a while so that they can rejuvenate themselves. That way they can be a better friend once they've had some time alone to relax. Is that right, Princess?"

"Exactly! You're learning fast as ever, Twilight. So then, take a day or two off and take some time for yourself. If your friends stop by, just tell them you're busy: they'll understand. Now..." Celestia turned and headed toward the door.

"I hate to cut this conversation short, but I have a few things to do on my end. It's a little harder for royalty to ask for a mental health day...I look forward to hearing from you again soon, Twilight: I actually had the privilege to observe the creative process for this game and I'd love to hear what the finished product is like. But, erm..." She turned back to look at Twilight. "No rush."

And with that, she was gone.

Twilight stood, momentarily flabbergasted by her mentor’s personal visit. Most of the time she had time to prepare to welcome figures of royalty and near-fanatical reverence by millions. Needless to say, the entire experience was... a little jarring, to say the least.

Snapping out of her reverie, Twilight turned her attention back to the small, brown parcel that lay in her hoofs. It looked like every other one she had received from the Princess, but something about it just seemed so subtly different- the slight contours, the smaller frame... this was unlike anything she had received before.

Gently peeling the wrapping off with her magic, Twilight at first spied a peek of emerald green underneath the paper, and as the rest of the package unfurled, she found herself faced with what looked like a very tiny, simplified version of the console that now rested in her basement.

Gamecolt... Color?” Twilight couldn’t help but let a small bit of intrigue slip into her voice as she read the name off of the label adorning the device’s screen. The whole thing certainly looked simple enough, seeing as the squarish screen only took up half the front side.

The lower half was even more sparse - if that was at all possible, comprising nothing more than a simplified D-pad that adorned the device’s lower left side, flanked by two buttons that simply read ‘A’ and ‘B,’ nothing more.

In fact, had she not looked, she could have sworn the two miniscule ‘start’ and ‘select’ buttons at the bottom of the device were rice grains somepony might have dropped in the packaging.

“Well, this has to be good in some way, it does come with the Princess’s recommendation anyway...”

Giving the device in her hoofs a few quick twirls, Twilight was quick to find both a power button and a battery holder. Much simpler than that horrible jumble of wires that passed for an entertainment device.

“Well, at least I won’t have to worry about any more wires...” she chortled, having enough of those infernal things to last a lifetime.

Calmly setting both the Gamecolt on her bedside table, Twilight casually levitated the now-torn packaging over to the nearest bin. As she dumped the remains of the parcel inside, a rather solid ‘clack’ made her pause in her hoofsteps.

Doubling back to the bin, Twilight began sifting through her trash to find the source of the noise. Sifting through loose papers, frayed quills and what looked like a month-old serving of quiche, she finally located the source of the noise.

Fishing out a small, gray box, Twilight gave it a quick dustoff and short glance, reading the label that covered its front side.

“... Tetris, huh?” The purple unicorn read the title off the label, eyeing it rather critically. The picture that adorned the cartridge looked pretty simple, being simply a bunch of colored blocks in different shapes, but as she rummaged around the remains of the parcel, she saw nothing that even looked remotely like a manual.

Now why would Princess Celestia send me a game without including its manual? Twilight thought to herself, thoroughly puzzled.

Glancing over to the Gamecolt, an idea crossed the purple-maned unicorn’s ever-inquisitive mind. Could it possibly be...?

Levitating the Gamecolt over, Twilight looked over the device once more. As expected, the diminutive gray square looked a perfect match for the back-end slot.

With a gentle slide, the gray square slid seamlessly into the GameColt, a small, almost imperceptible ‘click’ echoing as the two became locked as a pair.

Flicking the Gamecolt’s power switch, she was rewarded with a satisfying ding! as the words “Gamecolt Color” flashed across the device’s diminutive screen in a rainbow of colors. Seconds after the screen went blank, the title of the game “Tetris” appeared on the screen, its edges decorated only sparsely by a few simple, colored blocks of various shapes, similar to those adorning the picture on the front of the gray square.

To call the menu simple would have been a severe overstatement. With the sole option available to her being ‘Start Game’, Twilight figured she had nothing to lose and pressed her hoof down on the ‘A’ button.

After the past few titles she had settled in with, Twilight was fully prepared for a burst of light, some deafening introduction, or perhaps at worst another gory display of Celestia-knows-what.
The minute her hoof let go of the button, Twilight found herself cringing behind a shaking hoof, expecting nothing less than the worst.

Yet much to her surprise, all she got was a simple beep. There were no flashy displays of graphical splendour, no ground-thumping orchestral themes, and certainly no nausea-inducing fountains of gore and blood.

All she saw on the screen was a very empty-looking box, and a bunch of words and numbers outside of the box that made absolutely no sense to her.

If anything, the simplicity of it all was a very refreshing change - one that the exhausted unicorn welcomed with very open hooves.

“Now then... let’s see here,” murmured Twilight, reading off whatever little bits of text she found onscreen.

“Lines... Level... Score... wait, lines? What lines?”

Almost as if on cue, a black square, seemingly composed of four smaller hollow, white squares, structured to resemble a window pane, appeared at the top of the screen, beginning a slow but steady descent downwards.

“Ah-! Wh-What did I do? Is it supposed to do this?!”

Taken completely off-guard, Twilight fumbled with the device in her hooves, trying to figure out what she was supposed to do. In her panic, her hoof accidentally hit the “down” button on the directional pad, sending the block into a rapid descent towards the bottom of the box, where it remained.

Almost immediately, another block appeared at the top of the screen, this time vaguely shaped like an “L”, descending at the same languid pace its predecessor had.

Realizing she might have had just made a mistake, the purple unicorn forced herself to calm down, recognizing the need for her to take things slowly and figure out the controls by trial and error. Rushing through things in misguided attempts to do them right like Rainbow Dash wasn’t going to help her any.

“Okay now, let’s see here...” her eyes narrowed in deep concentration, Twilight poured her considerable intellect into deciphering the, as she called it, “music of the blocks.”

Logic told her that the directional pad would be for... well, directional use, making it quite limited. It was only natural for the studious bookworm that the best course of action would be to use the twin buttons, since they would probably have a gameplay feature that she could otherwise use.

Much to her glee, Twilight found the ‘A’ button rotated blocks in a specific, clockwise direction. Rotating the ‘L’ block downwards, it gave a very satisfying “beep” as it locked into place as soon as it hit the bottom of the screen whilst another, similar block appeared at the top of the screen.

She was going to like this one. That she was.

---

“Twilight, are you in there?” asked Pinkie Pie, trepidation apparent in her unusually subdued tone. The pink earth pony couldn’t help but feel a little guilty after the whole “Great Fire of Ponyville” incident, and had taken it upon herself to see how a good three days of solitude was treating her.

“Twilight, Dear, are you feeling any better?” Rarity had, of course, caught news of Pinkie’s visit through the ever-present gossip grapevine. She insisted both Fluttershy and herself come along “in Twilight’s best interests,” which was, subtly, a really nice way of implying that another pony-made disaster would be one too many for Ponyville to afford.

“Uhm, Twilight? Are... are you home?” Fluttershy called out quietly, barely audible. But even as they called out for their friend, there was no response.

If anything, the silence of the library was starting to seem... oppressive.

Squeaking nervously, the yellow pegasus started to back away from the library slowly, but Rarity pressed forward, determined to find out just what their purple-maned friend had been up to these past few days.

“Twilight, it’s been days now. We hope you’re still not upset, dear!” The concern apparent in her unusually mothering tone, Rarity rapped on the purple unicorn’s door a few more times in worry.

When there was no answer to the door, the white unicorn’s brow only creased further in consternation, and she knocked several more times. “Twilight, dear, please come out! We’re very worried about you!”

“You... you think she’s still angry at me about what happened?” Pinkie Pie’s lip quivered as her voice cracked ever so slightly, and her distinctly puffy mane began to deflate, straightening around the edges.

“I don’t think so, Pinkie dear,” Rarity quickly placed a comforting hoof on her friend’s shoulder. “Our darling Twilight isn’t one to hold a grudge. Still, it is rather odd that she hasn’t even come out of the library for three days straight!”

Just as Rarity raised her hoof to rap of the door yet again, it creaked open ever so slightly.

“Twilight?” echoed the three ponies, their voices mingling together as one.

“Hey guys,” came the ever-recognizable voice of Spike, “here to see Twilight?”

“Just a friendly checkup, Spike. I do hope the poor dear is feeling even the tiniest bit better...” Rarity’s voice trailed off the last few words of her sentence. She felt so sorry for her friend.

Looking into the the white unicorn’s dejected eyes, Spike couldn’t help but feel a pang of heartache as he felt invisible chords tighten around his chest. The one thing he could never resist, even more-so than gemstones, was Rarity. Seeing her so dejected was literal torture for
his poor soul.

“Well, Twilight’s definitely feeling better...” muttered the baby dragon. It was subtle, but hesitance in his voice was apparent. Pinkie and Fluttershy may not have noticed, but Rarity had seen one too many soaps to be anything but observant about this.

“Spike... It would mean so much to me if you could help us.” she pleaded, putting on the most “pitiful” look she could muster, even throwing in a good bat of her eyelashes for safety’s sake.

The baby dragon could swear the look in Rarity’s eyes would have made a hydra throw itself off a cliff, had she so willed it. Spike never stood a chance.

“I.. I don’t know, that’s the thing!” He blurted, “ I... I know she’s on an important assignment from Princess Celestia, but she swore that she wouldn’t leave her seat until that score bar refused to go any higher!”

“Score... bar?” murmured Fluttershy, now confused.

It was then that the three gathered ponies heard something coming from the library’s interior that they had failed to notice before - it was the sound of beeps going off in varied intervals, each with a subtly different tone.

None of them had ever heard any sound like that before. Naturally, Pinkie Pie stepped forward to push open the door, her curiosity quite piqued.

“Ooh, sounds like another one of those video games that Princess Celestia sent Twilight!” The pink mare cried out excitedly, before quickly sobering up the moment she recalled just how much of the purple unicorn’s grief she had been responsible for.

Her grin, however, remained just as hopeful as before. “Um, can we go in to take a look, Spike?”

The young dragon shrugged, not seeing any problem with it. “Well, she did say she didn’t want to be disturbed, but I guess so long as you don’t startle her or something, it should be fine. I swear, ever since she picked up that thing, it’s like she’s been in a trance! She doesn’t even stop to eat or drink until she finishes one round, and even after that it’s right onto the next one!”

Upon hearing this, Fluttershy’s eyes widened, her mouth dropping open in shock and concern for her friend.

“Oh my! Th-that’s terrible! Is... is she all right?”

“Actually... she’s fine.” said Spike, holding the door open to let the three in.

“It’s just a little... weird - she’s spent quite some time cooped up by herself, but as far as I can tell, she’s taking just enough care of herself just so she can continue playing that game.”

“Oh my,” Rarity had a hoof to her mouth at that, quite surprised at her purple-maned friend’s sudden bout of fervor regarding a simple game, even if it was sent to her by the Princess.

“If it has Twilight cooped up in the library for three days straight, it must be quite the game!”

Then again, judging from how seriously she took her role as the Princess’s protege, Rarity could envision Twilight taking to anything set to her by Princess Celestia with the fervor of a madpony.

Closing the door after Fluttershy, the last to enter, Spike led the three further into the library.

Ascending the steps leading to Twilight’s room, the beeps only continued to grow in volume and frequency - it seemed as though whatever it was that Twilight was playing, it was speeding up so rapidly it made Rainbow Dash’s buccaneer blaze seem slow in comparison.

As the three mares stepped into Twilight’s room proper, they beheld... something unexpected. Twilight, for all intents and purposes, was the same hale, fit, and healthy pony they knew, bent over at her study desk as she usually would be this time of day.

Yet instead of poring over some dusty tome, official scroll or memoir of Princess Celestia as they usually found her doing, she was focused, nay, literally glued to a small, strange object that she held in both her hooves.

Pinkie Pie was the first at Twilight’s shoulder, looking over it at the screen of the device she held, but the lavender unicorn didn’t even so much acknowledge her presence - she was far too engrossed on what was going on the screen.

Rarity and Fluttershy were next, peering over Twilight’s other shoulder, mouths dropping wide as they beheld something that defied all conventional laws of sense.

Twilight’s hooves were zipping around in rapid-fire twitches so incredibly fast, calling them a blur would be a grave injustice.

In response, the colored blocks appearing on top of the device’s screen were snapping downwards into place at the bottom, whizzing past at speeds even Rarity admitted was impossible for her to even try to follow.

But it was not just how fast the pieces were being placed at the bottom that was mind-blowing - it was how perfectly they were being placed, given the speed at which Twilight was throwing them down.

The blocks came in all shapes and sizes, ranging from long four-block ‘I’s to shorter ones shaped like ‘T’s and ‘L’s. Pinkie and Rarity were having a hard time even wrapping their heads around the combinations possible.

Yet no matter the shape or size, Twilight’s manipulation of the pieces was nothing short of artistic. Few other words would do it justice when every single move gave birth to perfect order.

Every time she managed to completely fill up the box on her screen horizontally, every block within that complete row would vanish, leaving more space for more blocks to descend. Twilight’s level of skill at this was unbelievable - Rarity could deduce the rules of the game from watching, but she figured at the most she could only clear one or two rows at once. Twilight, on the other hoof, was clearing four at a time!

As everypony assembled watched in awe, Twilight left no block misplaced. Not even a single unsightly blank was left in between as each block came together like pieces in a grand puzzle.

It was a marriage of grace and precision so simply profound that Rarity, self-professed patron of the cultured and artistic, could not help but stare mesmerized.

With everypony content to watch in awed silence, the minutes passed by, the game never relenting as it continued to speed up and up and up, pace quickening to the point that even the normally over-hyper Pinkie Pie could do little to follow what was happening on screen.

Soon, the minutes turned to hours- even the increase in speed was beginning to take its toll on Twilight as slowly, bit by bit, the lavender unicorn began to make mistakes. Blank blocks were starting to show as Twilight left them in between pieces, her concentration wavering as time began taking a slow toll on her beleaguered mind.

Realizing she was slipping, Twilight blinked herself back to the game, answering once more with her rapid-fire hoof-twitches as she threw blocks left and right with a master’s eye.

Before anypony knew it, the blank areas were gone, and Twilight’s perfectly-formed block of pieces once again dominated the screen.

The end came as abruptly as the blocks appeared. Just as the score bar on the screen hit “999999”, the entire box suddenly cleared out, and credits began to roll in simple, 8-bit text, congratulating the player on accomplishing a truly monumental feat.

But it still wasn’t over.

More blocks began to descend from the top of the box, but the moment Twilight threw them down to the bottom of the screen, they turned invisible. Rarity almost fainted right there and then, but as if it weren’t unbelievable enough already, there was the distinctive beep! of four rows being cleared at once.

From behind Pinkie Pie’s rear, there was the sound of masonry hitting the floor, and when Fluttershy sneaked a glance, she saw a neat little pile of bricks gathered behind her pink-maned friend.

“Phew! It’s FINALLY over!” breathed Twilight, letting her hooves go limp as the credits finished rolling. No sooner had she actually spoken for the first time in uncounted hours, the lavender unicorn craned her neck around for a nice stretch... only to behold the very awed expressions of three very familiar ponies.

“BWAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!! How long have you guys been standing there?!”

Her friends could do nothing but stammer with their eyes wide, jaws slack in disbelief. Rarity had leveled a trembling right hoof straight at her friend, apparently unable to find her tongue.

“T-T-Twi...”

“What? Is it something in my mane? Is Sugarcube corner on fire? Another Baked Bads Incident? Did Ditzy Doo bring back some parasprites? Is Princess Celestia here?!”

“T-T-T-Twilight...”

The lavender unicorn was beginning to get worried now. Just how many hours had she burnt on Princess Celestia’s Gamecolt? She knew she had spent some time on it, but surely it couldn’t have been that bad.

Quickly glancing around for a calendar, her eyes widened in shock as she realized just how much time she had actually spent.

“Oh my goodness... I’ve been playing for three whole days!” she gasped, the shock of what she had done clearly registering across her face. Turning about to face her friends, a look of sadness marred her normally cheery features.

“I-I’m sorry, everypony... I must have had you so worried!”

“Y-Y-Y-You....”

“I know,” responded the unicorn, a hint of dejection in her voice. “I-I must have looked as if I was ignoring my best friends... but it wasn’t meant to look that way! Honest!”

“YOU WERE AMAZING, TWILIGHT!” Came the simultaneous, booming shout. Throwing themselves at their best friend, all three ponies proceeded to give of them a now-perplexed Twilight Sparkle one very tight, bone-crunching hug.

Trapped in the embrace of some of her best friends, Twilight couldn’t help but blink a little in confusion, barely wheezing out a single phrase as she struggled for breath.

“Wait, whaaa-?”

--

“I’m really, really sorry I left you guys alone out there for so long! Oh gosh, you must’ve been worried sick about me!”

“I’ve already told you, Twilight, dear, don’t worry about it!” Rarity cooed soothingly as she walked with her friend back to the library, after the massive party at Sugarcube corner that Pinkie Pie had decided to throw on the spot after Twilight had finally finished her game. “We’re all just glad you’re fine, even after all those days in the library!”

Apparently the pink earth pony had called the party a “Congratulations Twilight On Finally Beating Tetris” party, and had thrown the whole thing together with shocking speed, as was her usual modus operandi.

Twilight didn’t even want to know how Pinkie even managed to do it, but she had managed to drag in the rest of her friends into it, and now the purple-maned unicorn was walking back to her library alongside Applejack and Rainbow Dash too, along with Rarity, Fluttershy and Pinkie Pie, the pink earth pony still bouncing hyperactively from the aftermath of the party.

“Man, you should’ve seen Twilight playing that game!” Pinkie Pie was currently gushing out excitedly to Rainbow Dash, as she recounted the lavender unicorn’s amazing prowess at Tetris to the rainbow-maned pegasus. “When I first saw her playing, she was whoosh! Zoom! Bam! All over the place! And up in my head I was like *GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSP* but we didn’t even make a sound because it was just so super-duper-incredibly awesome! She was so fast, she was almost as fast as you, Dashie!”

Rainbow Dash shook her head, that same old smirk right back on her face. “Alright, Pinkie, you had me going right up until that LAST part.” She turned back to Twilight, shaking her head in disbelief. “But man, Twilight, you’ve GOT to give me a shot at that game!”

Twilight nodded. “I’d be glad to lend it to you, Rainbow Dash... I’ve already pretty much beaten it and... ow... I think my hooves need a break anyway.”

Fluttershy had noticed that Twilight seemed to be favoring her front hooves.. “T-twilight, you’re not hurt, are you?”

“No, no!” Twilight gave the pegasus a reassuring smile. “Just a... just a little sore.” She worked one of her hooves in a circle; an ominous popping noise emanated from her wrist.

“I didn’t notice how tired my hooves were getting until after I was done playing...”

“So it’s settled!” Rainbow hadn’t seemed to even notice, so focused she was on psyching herself up. “I’m not gonna sleep until I beat Twilight’s high score!”

“You... er... can’t.” Applejack piped up. “Twilight hit the score cap: it don’t go higher than 9s across th’ board.”

“Oh.” Rainbow looked disappointed for all of two seconds... right before she perked up again. “Then I’ll hit the cap in TWO days! Beat her best time instead of her best score!” She exclaimed, earning an eye-roll from Applejack and Rarity.

“Well, we’re here.” Twilight approached the door to the library, opening it with her magic. “I’ll grab the Gamecolt for you, Rainbow. Thanks again for that great party, Pinkie... now, I’ll need just one second, and...” She vanished into the darkened hallway, headed off to her study to grab the Gamecolt.

Dash rubbed her hooves together eagerly. “Oh man, I can’t wait to bust Twilight’s best time...!”

Rarity shot her a piercing glare. “Rainbow Dash, I’m surprised at you! I thought you would know better than to steal somepony’s thunder when they’ve accomplished something great. Remember how that feels?”

Rainbow paused, then shrugged. “Hey, she said I could go for it! Besides, records are there to be broken, right?”

Rarity sighed. Rainbow could be so... difficult sometimes. “Well, It’s highly unlikely that you’ll get the chance to rub it in her face or anything, so perhaps I’m worrying over nothing.”

“Oh yeah, I’m not gonna break a friendship over a game or anything. I’ll make sure that I stay modest - HEY!”

Rarity hid her snickers behind a hoof as Rainbow fumed. “It’s a game about making lines out of blocks, how hard could it possibly be?! It doesn’t matter HOW fast they come down, I’ll keep up with them no problem!”

The sound of rapid hoofsteps caused them to glance toward the darkened library hallway, and Rainbow gestured regally toward Twilight’s rapidly approaching silhouette.

“Here she comes now: Tetris won’t know what hit it! Bring it on!”

And that was when Twilight suddenly burst through the door, panting. She looked... terrified, to say the least. “Girls, come quick! Hurry!”

Pinkie Pie blinked. “What’s going on?” She asked, an edge of concern in her voice.

“It’s Spike! He’s hurt!”

--

Indeed he was. The tiny purple dragon lay twitching on the ground, clutching his stomach and gasping. Twilight was immediately at his side, cradling the young dragon in her hooves. “Spike, what’s wrong? What happened?”

Spike pointed a trembling finger at something over her shoulder, letting out a feeble rasp before passing out. Twilight looked over her shoulder, following where Spike had pointed. Her eyes bulged.

“Oh my...”

What looked like an electric guitar lay in the corner. A microphone stood mounted on a tripod. Pinkie Pie nearly tripped over what could only be described as a drum set lying in the middle of the dark hallway. In pride of place, there lay a small, familiar-shaped package with a letter tied to it.

Rainbow looked from one instrument to the other, jaw hanging open. “What... what in Equestria IS all this?”

Rarity looked just as stunned. “No, he couldn’t have... Spike couldn’t have coughed all this up at ONCE!” She looked over at the dragon curled on the floor; unconscious, though he didn’t seem to be in any pain. “Oh, the poor thing must be exhausted!” She placed a gentle hoof on his forehead.

“...And of course he’s out cold.” Twilight thought with a small smirk.

Suddenly she recoiled; Pinkie had nearly shoved the scroll attached to the box up her nose. “What does it say?! It’s a new game, isn’t it?!” She was bouncing in place in unbridled excitement. “Read it read it read it!”

Twilight levitated the parchment out of Pinkie’s hooves, gently pushing her away as she unfurled the scroll. Her friends were hanging over her shoulder in an instant as she began to read.

My Dearest, Most Faithful Student,

I am pleased to hear that you are feeling better after that hiatus you took, and so proud of your great accomplishment. The teams who worked on Tetris boasted of its difficulty, and from what they showed me of it, their claims seemed far from hyperbolic. So again, congratulations.

I must apologize as well for the sudden influx of devices that Spike must have coughed up: the students seemed very zealous about this latest game, and they sent all of the devices through the pipeline before I had a chance to stop them. I do hope that Spike is alright.

More importantly, Twilight, the University of Electrical Engineering has also given me some very exciting news! They claim that we are on the threshold of something great; that in a matter of a few months, they will be able to market the Xbox and its games to all of Equestria.

Taking into account your previous reports, I foresee this has a chance to be a great thing for the nation of Equestria. In the meantime, I do hope you will enjoy assessing their newest title, which I believe is called “Rock Band.”

From what I’ve heard, this is a ‘rhythm game,’ where the central focus appears to be music. I do sincerely hope you and your friends will be able to enjoy it together.

Your mentor,
Princess Celestia

p.s. If at all possible, could you perhaps send the Gamecolt to me? I wish to try my hoof at Tetris.

Twilight finished reading, looking back up at her friends. Her eyes stopped on Rainbow Dash. The pegasus’ mouth was working, and her brow was furrowed. “Rainbow...”

“Yeah, I know. She’s the princess and everything... I’ll buy Tetris when it comes out or something.”

Her voice was... incredibly bitter. Twilight looked quickly back at the parchment.

“I actually don’t know where to go from here, Rainbow...I mean, if the princess asked for the Gamecolt I should give it to her, no question. But on the other hoof, I promised it to you first...”

Suddenly a small smirk formed on Twilight’s face. “And besides...”

“Besides what, Twilight?” Fluttershy asked nervously.

Twilight chuckled. “Besides... if I give Princess Celestia Tetris...the sun would never rise again.”