1 player, vertical game
Atari Corp., for the Atari Lynx
It's good every once in a while to see video games that don't have a ludicrous plot tacked on to the concept -- Really, who can believe that the paddle in ARKANOID is a trapped spaceship trying to reach home? KLAX for the Atari Lynx is a translation of the Atari Games arcade strategy title, and thankfully nobody gave it a background along the way.
The base idea is simple: You operate a moving paddle at one end of an advancing conveyor belt. Your objective is to catch colored tiles coming down the belt, then either deposit them into a bin below or toss them back on the conveyor for a little extra planning time. Points are awarded for making rows, columns, and diagonals using three or more tiles. To complicate matters, each level ends only when its goal is met: make six diagonals, or score 10,000 points, for example. Both the bin and the paddle can hold a limited number of tiles, and tiles are dropped into oblivion if you don't catch it in time. Drop too many tiles, and the game ends.
KLAX in the arcade had a uniquely addictive quality about it, and the Lynx version loses none of this appeal. Like TETRIS, the game fools you with its simplicity: newcomers often adopt a "How hard can this be?" attitude, but are soon enraptured by the depth and strategies possible. However, KLAX offers more variety and a quicker pace, making it appealing to people who found TETRIS too slow and limited. The game features 100 levels, which helps keep the challenge high.
With such simple rules, it's not surprising that KLAX on the Lynx misses none of the original's features. As in the arcade, you can start the game at levels 1, 6, or 11, and skip levels after every fifth stage. However, this version also allows you to go to the highest stage ever reached, and offers three levels of overall game difficulty. An unlimited number of continues is available, and the score is cleared each time. The vertical orientation of the Lynx is welcome here, making optimal use of screen space and allowing all of the action to be clearly seen. The game as a whole is quick and responsive, though the action slows down a bit when there are too many tiles on the conveyor belt at once.
KLAX makes full use of the Lynx's sound and graphics capabilities, and successfully captures the bouncy atmosphere of the game. The graphics are large and colorful, and the animations and effects of the arcade are duplicated exactly. Even the various abstract backgrounds are present, though some of the original scenes have been replaced with new ones specifically for the Lynx.
As good as the graphics are, however, what really steals the show are the sounds and music. Crisp digitized sound effects, all from the arcade game, are used everywhere -- the applauding crowds, the lady announcer at the start of each wave, even the wail of a falling tile as it drops into the void. Stereo, heard for the first time on the Lynx, is put to great use, both during the game to indicate the location of tiles, and in the rollicking, high-tempo, electric guitar-loaded theme music masterpiece.
This is an incredibly simple and totally addictive game, appealing to both the mind and the reflexes alike, that has made a perfect transition from the arcade. Between the friendly gameplay, elegant graphics, and stunning sound and music, KLAX on the Lynx is highly recommended!
GAMEPLAY: 9.5 GRAPHICS: 10 SOUND: 10 OVERALL: 9.5