Title: Quadrax IV
Author: Jozef Kreutzer
Quadrax IV should have been a great game. Unfortunately, it is marred by several small but critically bad design choices. The first, and most deadly, is the using of passcodes to keep track of a user's progress. You have to write these down as you complete levels. When you return to game later, you have enter a code. Additionally, the passcodes are machine dependent. I had the additional unfortunate mishap of retiring the computer on which I had completed first 60 or so levels. My carefully recorded passcodes were worthless on my new computer. I did not actually have the energy to redo those levels. I did resolve a couple of levels for a screen shot.
Before mentioning other flaws, let me quickly describe the game. Quadrax IV is a simple game. The goal of each level is to get both characters to the exit. Each character can move about, but being two spaces high they cannot fix through a one high space. They can climb up on ledges and stones if not too high (one or two spaces). They can jump down off ledges if not too far (three or fewer spaces). The characters can also push certain stones around.
There are special tiles which can only be walked over or under once. There are elevators. There are switches to throw. There are caves which teleport you to another cave. I am probably forgetting something. The rules are simple, and there are in game help messages to explain new items as they arise. The key to most levels is getting the characters to work together.
The interface is simple, arrows, tab to switch characters, space to throw switches and enter caves. One oddity, if you want to climb up a ledge or block, you have to press both the up arrow along with either the left or right arrow. One problem, if you press the left arrow first, even a split second sooner, you might end up pushing a block instead up climbing up on the block. So, be sure to press the up arrow first, then hit left or right. A minor flaw.
A bigger flaw is the effect of caves and switches. When a level first appears up, you cannot tell to where a cave will teleport you. Similar with switches, you do not know just by looking at the level what they do. This results in unnecessary trial and error. This is very frustrating and exasperated by a lack of undos and saves.
Quadrax IV contains 90 levels. I only completed about two thirds of them before my new computer problem. The levels which are not frustrating trial and error are quite good. The level design on those is very good.
The artwork and audio in Quadrax IV are great. Combined with good level design, this should have been a great game. Very sad.