• Graphics
  • Sound
  • Playability
  • Lastability
FormatCommodore Plus/4
DeveloperLegion Of Doom
PublisherMinigame Competition
ReviewJeff and Jason

Main review

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.

Second opinion

I’ve been fairly vocal in the past about my dislike for the Minigame competition because I’ve always felt it leans more towards technical mastery than trying to produce a decent game. Of course, there are always exceptions and each year there are a few titles that really stand out from the crowd, with Quadrillion being one of those rare finds. Despite it’s diminutive size, Quadrillion oozes class straight out of the gate; graphically it’s very well executed with some very neat use of the 264 series palette and smooth motion of the ball throughout. Presentation is similarly slick, with each level having a name

The sound is somewhat lacking and the title tune is probably the only concession that has been made to the initial small size of the program; since it’s being generated as opposed to having been composed, it seems to be somewhat erratic as a piece of music and irritating in anything more than a small dose. The in-game beeps, splats and crashes are reasonable if a little monotonous after time and part of me (the part that complains so violently about the Minigame competition) wishes that a “full” version existed that had the option of a full-blown soundtrack playing during the game.

But most importantly of all, this game is seriously good fun to play! The level of difficulty is quite high from the very first screen and goes up rapidly but, importantly, not too rapidly – so although it can be frustrating at times that sense of achievement from completing a stage that had previously seemed impossible (the “big wall” level was a personal nemesis for a while) is a major driving force to carry on playing. It’s challenging and unforgiving without being unfair in the process, every death is because the player goofs and not because the game has “cheated” in some way and that’s a hook that brings most players back for “just one more go” despite it being three in the morning.

If there was one thing that did niggle everso slightly though, it was the scoring; points are awarded as bricks get removed and at the end of each level, but no other factors come into play so a straight run through the first three levels will always produce the same score. The only way to get a higher score is to die on one of the levels and have to attempt it again, in other words the player is being rewarded for their failure!

But my personal gripe aside, Quadrillion comes highly recommended and you shouldn’t even be bothering to read this paragraph; look, there’s the Quadrillion download on the side bar so grab it and away you go!