Klax (Atari 7800)

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Year/Company: 1992 Atari

Format: Atari 7800

Klax never quite reached the heights of Tetris in popularity stakes, but it did entertain for a good few years for many. Think Columns, mix a bit of Tetris and out pops Klax! (who thought up that name??)

Coloured tiles scroll down a slant view conveyer belt, and you must catch them before dropping them into a container below. You must line up tiles of the same colour to score what is known as a “Klax”. Diagonal, horizontal and vertical based klaxes give varying amounts of points, and more advanced klax patterns dish out extra bonus points.

Almost all the home systems had a conversion of this game at the time, including even the Atari 2600! With support still running for the Atari 7800, a port was inevitable.

BlueSky software (Nowt to do with the Intellivision guys) was relatively new in game production when Atari approached them to convert Klax for their 7800. Although reluctant to work on an old machine, the money offer from Atari was too tempting to turn down. David A Dentt, a developer for BlueSky, put himself forward for the project.

Atari allocated 5 months to the conversion developed on an Atari 1040ST. David enthusiastically converted the game with the 2600 version as reference and Jerry Huber provided some excellently converted graphics. The game was completed on time, pending final testing. As well as a fairly solid conversion, the 7800 had unique features to other versions, including 3 hidden “impossible” levels (maybe not only to the super human!) that were accessible after completing 100 waves.

With its excellent graphics, animations, no missing features and extra levels, it was easily one of the best home versions produced. Only the 2600-based bleep sounds let the game down, with no speech or title music of any kind.

At the time of completion, the 7800 was taking a good bashing from the NES and Master System, and Atari eventually abandoned support for the console and games in development. Klax was sadly one of the games caught up in the dropping of the 7800.

Although never properly packaged up in time, NTSC prototype cartridges did manage to sneak out and were auctioned off. There are known to be around 9 in existence.

Recently, ResQSoft (http://home.earthlink.net/~resqsoft/products.htm) stepped forward and literally “ResQed” Klax from the scrapyard, gaining permission from David to release the game in authentic packaging.

For what could have been a tragedy for 7800 owners, is now something to marvel at

Extras

Game box and release (Thanks to Mat Allen)

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