Game Gear was not the happening spot for puzzle games. While it's true that it managed to spit out a few quality puzzlers, it was its competition that really had the biggest games of that generation. But that's not to say Sega's 8-bitter was left out in the cold, after all they did have Klax.
In case you missed the brief Klax phenomenon in 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 greatenst of Tetris or Columns.
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.
About the best thing you can say about Klax is that it's a good looking game with rock solid controls. If you miss catching a piece it's you're fault, because the controls in the game are unquestionably the best aspect of the game. It never feels loose and you never feel cheated by the computer. Instead you grow tired of doing the same kind of mission over and over.
Klax is a great puzzle game that could have been a whole lot more. It's not the answer to Tetris that most Game Gear users were hoping for, but it's not the worst thing you can buy for the system, either. It's pleasant on the eyes and easy to pick up, but its challenge mode is unnecessary and ultimately takes away from the experience.