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Klax Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Rating: 64%
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
Despite having nothing but great memories of Klax as a kid, there's something about the puzzler that has always left me, well, puzzled. It doesn't matter what system it's for, I always have a great time playing this color-matching game. But then, days later, I have a hard time defending it. I can't get over how shallow it is or how the game forces you to play by its own rules. And yet I enjoy it. Sometimes it seems like my opinion of Klax changes faster than the weather.

Klax isn't the type of game you hear much about these days. Despite being released on dozens of systems, Klax was never granted a sequel. These days it's never brought up in conversation, even if the subject is classic puzzle games. So maybe I'm not alone and the rest of the world is as conflicted about Klax as I am. Either way, there's definitely something here that is worth paying attention to. Even if I don't always love Tengen's inventive puzzler, I still feel it's the type of game that should be remembered.

Klax (Genesis)

In case you missed the brief (but exciting) Klax phenomenon of the early 1990s, it's basically a game that challenges you to match three colors any way you can. That means that you will be able to match three pieces vertically, horizontally, and even diagonally ... all while offering unique game play that set it apart. The pieces come down a long conveyer belt giving you the opportunity to catch them and position the pieces in place. Miss too many of the pieces (or let the pieces stack up too high) and it's game over for you.

Unlike other color matching games like Puyo Pop and Columns, Klax allows you to hold on to pieces and plan your moves without the worry of the clock running down. Since you have a limited amount of room to place the pieces you still have to worry about them piling up too high, but this game play gimmick manages to keep the game different enough from all the other me-too puzzle games.

The problem with Klax is that it wants you to do what it says. Instead of simply being a game where you strive to get the highest score, Klax is all about you completing tasks to progress through the game. In one level you will be required to get 10,000 points while in another they will want you to three diagonal patterns before you can move on. With these challenges hanging over your head I found it awfully difficult to have a good time. It could have been a great puzzler, but these problems keep it from attaining the greatness of Tetris or Lumines.

Klax (Genesis)

The game also lacks a two player experience, something that almost every puzzle game ought to have. It's not asking too much to want to go up against another person in a head-to-head battle to see who the better Klax player was. But like everything else about this game, Klax is limited to a linear puzzle mode that fails to satisfy those who are interested in the theme.

Without a doubt, this Genesis port is the best looking version of Klax. Even then, the graphics are little more than a conveyer belt and some sort of background. In an interesting twist, the backgrounds will actually change depending on how far you get, so expect to see everything from lush forests to circuit boards on your journey. I would be curious to see how good this game would look as an Xbox Live Arcade or PSN title.

Despite having a lot of great memories tied to Klax, I'll likely never truly love it the way I love Tetris and so many other puzzle games. The developers got in the way of a good thing, ultimately making a game that doesn't live up to its full potential. Even when I'm at my most negative, it's not the game I'm mad at. As it turns out, my disappointment lands squarely on the team that couldn't fully deliver on what should have been an amazing game. As it is, Klax is merely good.
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