After the success of Tetris, there was an onslaught of puzzle games. From Columns to Hatris to Super Puzzle Fighter, there was no shortage of games trying to cash in on the success of Tetris. The quality of these games ranged from excellent to awful and everything in between. Of these games, the one that I found most enjoyable and unique enough to stand on its own was Klax. It was Atari's answer to Tetris and while never as successful as Tetris, stood as a quality game in its own right.
Where Tetris was about clearing blocks by moving various pieces and using them to fill holes, Klax was about meeting goals. Tetris was essentially the same game over and over. A very addictive game indeed but the same game. The speed would increase and the difficulty would increase but the essential game was always the same. This is the single biggest difference between the two games. Klax would give you a challenge for that level and you had to complete it to move on. It could be to make 10 klaxes (a klax is putting three of the same color in a row) or to survive while 40 pieces would fall. There were getting a certain amount of points and getting diagonal klaxes. This made the game always a little different and more challenging.
(Very hi-tech looking.)
The basic gameplay consisted of catching falling tiles as they moved down. The tiles were different colors and you had to line up three of a color to get rid of them and score a klax. If a piece got past you, a light would light up and you would lose a life so to speak. You could have three tiles get past before your game was over. Your paddle could hold up to five tiles before it would start dropping them. You could also push a tile back up the field if you were close to losing. Just remember it is coming back, so it is only a temporary solution.
As I said before, the best part of Klax is the different challenges. These spiced things up and kept you on your toes. You would start with a simple one where you needed to get five klaxes. From there it got tougher. The one where you had to survive a certain number of pieces was always tough. While they would repeat later on, just with a harder challenge, there were a good variety of them. I always liked the ones where you needed to get a set amount of points.
(Yes, you could order your own Klax shirt. Don't send money now as this offer ended about a decade ago)
There were also a few other things that made the game fun. There was the two player mode where you could battle head to head against a friend. There was the female who was an announcer of sorts. And there was the special challenges like making a giant x to get a secret bonus level. I never was able to do it, but I will one day.
While Tetris will always be the king of puzzle games, Klax is by far one of the best puzzle games to follow Tetris. It offers a challenging game, a variety of challenges and two player mode. With solid graphics and good sound effects, you have a winning game. Now see if you can make a giant x.
This is just a review of the arcade machine. If you are looking for the actual arcade machine, you may want to check out ebay. Click below to see if you can find this game.