Klax (video game)

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Developer(s) Atari Games
Publisher(s) Atari Games
Designer(s) Dave Akers, Mark Stephen Pierce
Composer(s) Brad Fuller
Platform(s) Arcade, Various
Release date(s) 1989
Genre(s) Puzzle
Mode(s) Up to 2 players simultaneously
Cabinet Upright
CPU Motorola 68000 @ 7.15909 MHz
Sound OKI6295 @ 6.779 kHz
Display Raster graphics, 336×240 pixels (Horizontal), 512 colors

Klax (クラックス Kurakkusu?) is a 1989 computer puzzle game designed by Dave Akers and Mark Stephen Pierce. The object is to line up colored blocks into rows of similar colors to make them disappear, to which the object of Columns is similar. Atari Games originally released it as a coin-op follow up to Tetris, about which they were tangled in a legal dispute at the time.


Akers programmed Klax in just a few weeks using AmigaBASIC, then ported it line-by-line to C. In a 1990 interview, he said he wanted to "produce something playable, compact and relatively quick to develop." His influences were both Tetris and tic-tac-toe.[1] He chose the name from the sound tiles make rolling across the screen.

The prototype game ran on the same hardware as Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters.

Atari Games released Klax in February 1990,[2] and soon called it a "major arcade hit".[3] They quickly released several home versions under the Tengen brand. Akers created the Nintendo Entertainment System and Mega Drive/Genesis editions himself.[4] Some 16-bit conversions featured 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 it the Best Cartridge of 1990.

Midway Games gained the rights to Klax upon purchasing Atari Games in 1996. The title has been re-released in retro compilations for modern consoles. A 1999 press release called it Midway's "tic-tac tile puzzle game."[5]

Klax's catchphrase, "It is the nineties and there is time for Klax", appears during the game's attract mode. The Game Boy Color version of the game, released in 1999, changed "nineties" to "millennium". Later versions, such as the 2005 Game Boy Advance version, change "nineties" to "modern days".

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 placed a hidden Snake-like game as well as a mini adventure game within the game as easter eggs.[6]


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, and can be moved left and right to catch the blocks and either deposit them 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. A block which is not caught and placed in the playing area or pushed back up the belt is considered a drop. The blocks are solid colours, but there is also a flashing block which can be used as a wildcard on any colour.

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 more drops (three drops are the standard if no levels are skipped, four drops are allowed if five levels are skipped, and five drops are allowed if ten levels are skipped).

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 does 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).

In Levels 6 and 11, the player can warp ahead 45 levels by building a large X with five blocks for each diagonal. Doing so awards a 600,000 point bonus for Level 6 and 700,000 for Level 11 in lieu of the standard skipping bonus (however, any empty bin or remaining blocks bonuses are awarded).

There are 100 levels in Klax, and a score of 250,000 is required to complete the last level. (The unreleased Atari 7800 version added three "impossible" levels.)

The game ends when:

  • The player exceeds the allowable number of drops (the drops are cumulative through a series of five levels, or six when a warp is successful, but are reset to zero once the last level in the series is successfully completed)
  • The player fills the entire playing area with blocks and cannot complete any Klaxes
  • Or the player successfully completes Level 100.


Scoring can vary between versions. The most common point values are as follows:

  • Five points for catching a tile (a tile that is caught, tossed back up, and caught again earns points each and every time it is caught)
  • 50 points for a three-block vertical Klax, 1,000 points for a three-block horizontal Klax, and 5,000 points for a three-block diagonal Klax. Scoring increases for four-block and five-block Klaxes.
  • A player also earns a multiplier for creating multiple Klaxs and combinations. Multipliers can take effect in two variations.
    • Most commonly, a player receives a bonus multiplier for each Klax created, which continues if he/she creates a combination. For example, if the player makes a vertical-3 and a diagonal-3 at the same time, the score is 50 + 5,000 = 5,050 * 2 = 10,100 points. If the player then combos into a diagonal-3, the player receives 5,000 * 3 = 15,000 points.
    • The second variation is that the player receives a bonus multiplier only if the player creates a combination. This multiplier increases only by one in each combo iteration.

Bonus points are earned as follows:

  • 25 points for each tile remaining on the conveyor belt or the catching device once the level is complete. (A tile that has partially fallen off the belt, but not completely, is counted as remaining on the belt.)
  • 200 points for each empty space remaining in the bin (once the last Klax is completed no further tiles can be dropped; as there are only 25 spaces in the bin, if all are empty the maximum empty space bonus is 200 * 25 or 5,000 points)
  • Any points in excess of those needed to complete a level requiring a certain number of points to advance, are scored as bonus points (in addition to being counted in the regular total).
  • 100,000 points for completing the first level after choosing to skip five levels, or 200,000 points for completing the first level after choosing to skip ten levels.
    • 600,000 points for making the "secret warp" X on Level 6, or 700,000 points for making the X on Level 11; this is in lieu of the standard skipping levels mentioned.


After the arcade version, Klax saw ports to most contemporary Home Computers and video game systems of the 1990s,
Eventually back to the Amiga in 1990 coming full circle.




Critical reception[edit]

On release, Famicom Tsūshin scored the PC Engine version of the game a 30 out of 40.[8] The game was ranked the 26th best game of all time by Amiga Power.[9]


  1. ^ atari-explorer.com
  2. ^ "Tengen sets arcade titles for NES, PCs; video games," HFD-The Weekly Home Furnishings Newspaper, June 4, 1990
  3. ^ "Tengen sales increase to more than $41 million," press release dated May 23, 1990.
  4. ^ Classic Gaming Expo
  5. ^ Atari Online Vol1 Iss5
  6. ^ "Man hid wedding proposal in commercial Game Boy Colour game", Eurogamer
  7. ^ "They're hot, they're new, they're fun," by Dennis Lynch, Chicago Tribune, November 23, 1990.
  8. ^ 30 Point Plus: KLAX. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.335. Pg.30. 12–19 May 1995.
  9. ^ Amiga Power magazine issue 0, Future Publishing, May 1991

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