Klax (video game)

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Developer(s)Atari Games
Publisher(s)Atari Games
Composer(s)Brad Fuller
LX Rudis (NES)
Dave O'Riva (NES)
Matt Furniss (Amiga, ST, C64, Spectrum, Amstrad)
Platform(s)Arcade, various
ReleaseJune 4, 1990[1]
Mode(s)Up to 2 players simultaneously
CPUMotorola 68000 @ 7.15909 MHz
SoundOKI6295 @ 6.779 kHz
DisplayRaster graphics, 336×240 pixels (Horizontal), 512 colors

Klax is a 1990 puzzle video 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. Released in the summer of 1990, it is also known for being the last game to be released on the Atari 2600 before the console was discontinued in early 1992.


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).[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]


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.[2] He chose the name from the sound tiles make rolling across the screen.[3] Atari Games released Klax in February 1990,[4] and soon called it a "major arcade hit".[5] They quickly released several home versions under the Tengen brand. Akers created the Nintendo Entertainment System and Genesis editions himself.[6] Some 16-bit conversions featured improved graphics.[citation needed] 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.[7]

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."[citation needed] 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.[8]

After the arcade version, Klax saw ports to most contemporary home computers and video game systems of the 1990s, including the Atari Lynx, Amstrad GX4000, and even the Atari 2600 as its final official Atari-licensed release exclusively in Europe.[citation needed] Klax was the first game with versions for all three of the 1990s' leading consoles: the Nintendo Entertainment System, the Genesis and the TurboGrafx-16.[9] Klax was included in Arcade Party Pak for the PlayStation. The game was also reissued in Midway Arcade Treasures, a 2003 compilation for the Nintendo GameCube, PlayStation 2, Xbox and PC. It also appeared in Lego Dimensions.[citation needed]


On release, Famicom Tsūshin awarded the PC Engine version of the game a 30 out of 40.[10] The game was ranked the 26th best game of all time by Amiga Power in 1991.[11] In 2012, an author named Kieren Hawken described Klax as "one of the most coveted video games of all time."[12]

Atari Lynx[edit]

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."[13] Julian Rignall reviewed the Atari Lynx version for CVG Magazine in January 1991 quoting "the game is simple, but very, very addictive" giving a rating of 93 out of 100.[14]


  1. ^ "Tengen sets arcade titles for NES, PCs; video games," HFD-The Weekly Home Furnishings Newspaper, June 4, 1990
  2. ^ atari-explorer.com
  3. ^ The A-Z of Sega Mega Drive Games: Volume 1 ISBN 978-1-785-38720-3 p. 72
  4. ^ "Tengen sets arcade titles for NES, PCs; video games," HFD-The Weekly Home Furnishings Newspaper, June 4, 1990
  5. ^ "Tengen sales increase to more than $41 million," press release dated May 23, 1990.
  6. ^ Classic Gaming Expo
  7. ^ chicagotribune.com
  8. ^ "Man hid wedding proposal in commercial Game Boy Colour game", Eurogamer
  9. ^ "They're hot, they're new, they're fun," by Dennis Lynch, Chicago Tribune, November 23, 1990.
  10. ^ 30 Point Plus: KLAX. Weekly Famicom Tsūshin. No.335. Pg.30. 12–19 May 1995.
  11. ^ Amiga Power magazine issue 0, Future Publishing, May 1991
  12. ^ The A-Z of Sega Game Gear Games: Volume 1 ISBN 978-1-785-38804-0 p. 72
  13. ^ Walnum, Clayton (December 1990). "The Lynx Collection". STart. No. 39. Antic Publishing. pp. 70–71.
  14. ^ Julian Rignall (January 1991). "Latest Lynx Lowndown". No. 110. CVG Magazine. p. 136. Retrieved 24 March 2018. Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)

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