Spectrum 2.0

Review of 'Quadrax'

Rating:4 User: Digital Prawn

Originally released in 1994 for the ZX Spectrum by Slovakian publisher Ultrasoft, this is another logical puzzle game which became so successful on the 8-bit platform that it eventually spawned a PC remake. The speccy version of Quadrax happily runs on 48K systems and contains fifty screens of roughly increasing difficulty. Although the initial game menu is in Slovak, there is fortunately an English translation provided in an accompanying documentation file in the World of Spectrum archive. The game itself is entirely graphical so language doesn't come into it once you are underway.

Each screen consists of a 2D-rendered layout of platforms, blocks, walls etc.. Many levels also have switches, slidable doors, floors, teleports and lifts. The goal of each screen is to guide two animated stickmen onto a white platform, marked by moving arrows. Naturally in order to achieve this, the two stickmen under your guidance have to co-operate with each other, not unlike certain segments of "Head over Heels". Also like that game, a user-defined key switches control between the two characters. The characters can walk and climb, but can't jump.

Quadrax also supports two players but I only have experience of playing it in single player mode. I can at least say that the game is ideally suited to single player mode. The graphics give the game something of a subterranean feel, with each level employing one of several colour schemes. Clever selective use of BRIGHT attributes are also used for shading effects. A nice touch is the addition of extra graphics that add to the atmosphere of the game without actually being part of the logic puzzles themselves e.g. ancient Greco-Roman columns and the like. Other levels feature metal chains, adeptly drawn skulls and also a cat appears on more than one occasion. Nice touches that just make playing the game more immersive.

Sound effects are simple yet adequate and well suited to this title. There is no in-game music, as completely expected for a 48K release. I found one or two of the levels to be quite challenging, but many of them I would say are relatively easy, compared to some other puzzle games. Some being a bit of a memory test as to which lever affects which object. Certainly though, once you get into the swing of things you may find that you can storm through a good number of levels without getting hung up too much. Still, I find it right to score Quadrax a four as the game clearly has the player hooked from start to finish and you just can't resist coming back to it until you eventually complete the entire game.