Programmers are funny people, they're always looking for challenges. Simply writing games isn't good enough, they want to make good games (err...most do anyway). Then when it's no longer difficult to make a fun game they want fun and technically impressive games. Even this gets too easy and then they push even harder and go for good games which are technically impressive and really really small, and that's where the Minigame compo comes in. This particular game, an excellent adaption of Crillion (originally for the Commodore 64), very nearly won 4K category of the 2004 Minigame compo which is no mean feat considering the high standards of the entries each year.
Quadrillion sees you controlling a vertically bouncing coloured ball which you can move left or right, the aim being to destroy all the coloured blocks that litter the screen. As usual with these puzzly things there's a catch, you can only smash bricks that are the same colour as your ball. Thankfully there are special blocks around that change the colour of the ball for you as well as a skull block that kills you and a movable sort of block that gets pushed along when you bump into it. And that's all there is to it: no onscreen movement apart from the ball and no time limit. It sounds too simple, but it's extremely catchy and gets far more difficult then you'd think.
As far as the basics go, the controls are flawless. The ball is slightly slower than in the original but this is a good thing, it's just fast enough that knowing the right point to move is an act of timing and not so fast that everything becomes hopeful guesswork which sometimes happened in Crillion. The graphics are beautiful, the use of shading on both the blocks and the backgrounds is well implemented, you can clearly work out what's going on but at the same time it's still very pretty to look at. The sound is not so great, but a good job is done with the fairly weak Plus/4 sound hardware. The in-game sounds are only blips and crunches (what else could they be?), but they serve their purpose well and do help timing in tricky situations. The title music however is out of tune in spots and not something that anyone would voluntarily listen to.
The twenty levels available in the game are a mix of subtle variations from the C64 version and completely new concepts. It's worth mentioning that even the levels that are based on the original Crillion, they seem to work better here due to the different ball speed and slightly more forgiving collision detection. The difficulty curve is almost perfect, each level is just a little harder than the last, really making you want to get that little bit further, and every possibly interesting concept you could think of has been used. The last few levels are just plain nasty, requiring absolutely precise timing at nearly every turn, but by that point you can't help but do them anyway. Like so much else, Quadrillion gets the number of levels right too, there's never any feeling of having to churn through hundreds of essentially identical levels and it feels like every possible trick has been used. Unfortunately, like all puzzle games, once it's done there's no incentive to come back, and dying means you have to start the level from the beginning which is tedious at times.
Simply put, the whole game feels like it's been very very carefully tweaked and it really does feel just right: Great graphics, brilliant mechanics and good level design with the sound being the only noticeable weakness, and it all fits into just 4k! Truly the work of an excellent programmer and keen gamer, this is definitely one you should have a crack at.