Klax (video game)
|Artist(s)||Mark Stephen Pierce|
|Composer(s)||Brad Fuller |
LX Rudis (NES)
Dave O'Riva (NES)
Matt Furniss (Amiga, ST, C64, Spectrum, Amstrad)
|Platform(s)||Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Arcade, Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 7800, Atari ST, BBC Micro, Commodore 64, DOS, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Gear, Genesis, Lynx, MSX, NES, PC-88, PC-98, SAM Coupé, Sharp X68000, SEGA Master System, TurboGrafx-16, ZX Spectrum|
|Release||June 4, 1990|
|Mode(s)||Up to 2 players simultaneously|
Klax is a puzzle video game released in arcades in 1990 by Atari Games. It was designed by Dave Akers and Mark Stephen Pierce. The object is to catch colored blocks tumbling down a machine and arrange them in colored rows and patterns to make them disappear. Klax was originally published as a coin-op follow-up to Tetris, about which Atari Games was in a legal dispute at the time.
Klax features a conveyor belt at the top of the screen. It constantly rolls toward the playing area, delivering a steady supply of blocks. The player controls a small device which sits at the interface between the conveyor belt and the playing area, which can be moved left and right to catch the blocks and deposit them either in the playing area (which can hold 25 blocks in a 5X5 arrangement) or push them back up the conveyor belt. The device can hold up to five blocks. An uncaught block is considered a "drop". A flashing block can be used as a wildcard on any colour. In the playing area, blocks can be eliminated by arranging three or more of the same color into a continuous line, known as a "Klax." The line may be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. A multiple grouping (e.g., one vertical and horizontal) counts as multiple Klaxes, as do Klaxes of four same-colored blocks (two Klaxes) or five same-colored blocks (three Klaxes). Once the goal is reached, bonus points are awarded for remaining blocks on the conveyor belt and device, and empty spaces in the bin (also, on levels where a certain point total is required, points in excess of the required amount are counted both in the scoring and as bonus points).
Klax consists of 100 levels grouped into blocks of five. At the beginning of the game and after each fifth level (levels divisible by five, except for Levels 95 and 100), a player can choose to skip five or ten levels. Skipping levels gives bonus points and a higher drop allowance. The game ends when the player either exhausts their drop allowance, fills up their playing area, or finishes level 100.
Akers programmed Klax in just a few weeks using AmigaBASIC, then ported each line to C. In a 1990 interview, he said he wanted to "produce something playable, compact and relatively quick to develop". His influences were Tetris and tic-tac-toe. He chose the name from the sound tiles make rolling across the screen. Atari Games released Klax in February 1990, and soon called it a "major arcade hit". It quickly released several home versions under the Tengen brand. Akers created the Nintendo Entertainment System and Genesis editions. Some 16-bit conversions feature improved graphics. Klax received the Parents' Choice Foundation's seal of approval in 1990, won Best Mind Game at the 1991 European Computer Leisure Awards, and Dennis Lynch of the Chicago Tribune named Klax the Best Cartridge of 1990.
Midway Games gained the rights to Klax upon purchasing Atari Games in 1996. The game has been re-released in retro compilations for modern consoles. A 1999 press release called it Midway's "tic-tac tile puzzle game". Mike Mika, who was working on the Game Boy Color version of the game, placed a hidden wedding proposal inside it. It took his then girlfriend three years to uncover the proposal. Mike Mika also inserted a hidden Snake-like game and a mini-adventure game as easter eggs.
After the arcade version, Klax was converted to most contemporary home computers and video game systems of the 1990s, including the Atari Lynx, Amstrad GX4000, and the Atari 2600 as its final official Atari-licensed release exclusively in Europe. Klax is the first game with versions for all three of the leading 1990s consoles: the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Genesis, and the TurboGrafx-16. Klax was included in Arcade Party Pak for the PlayStation. It was reissued in Midway Arcade Treasures, a 2003 compilation for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC. It appears in Lego Dimensions.
In Japan, Game Machine listed Klax in its April 1, 1990 issue as being the seventh most-successful table arcade unit of the year.
On release, Famicom Tsūshin awarded the PC Engine version 30 out of 40. Klax was ranked the 26th best game of all time by Amiga Power in 1991. The NES version is ranked 44 in IGNs Top 100 NES Games. 
In a capsule review of the Lynx version for STart, Clayton Walnum commented, "Once you start playing Klax, a maniac with an Uzi won't be able to tear you away. Not only are the graphics clean and vivid, the music is darn near good enough to dance to and the digitized sound effects and speech are astonishing for such a small unit." Julian Rignall reviewed the Atari Lynx version for CVG Magazine in January 1991, saying "the game is simple, but very, very addictive" and giving a rating of 93 out of 100.
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