Commodore User1st September 1988
Published in Commodore User #61
Quadralien, Logotron's second release after Star Ray bears a slight similarity to other games in the ageing Gauntlet genre, insofar as it's a multi-directional scrolling affair viewed from above. In true corny plot fashion, Quadralien is set in the distant future and takes place on a huge computer-controlled energy base in deep space by the name of Astra. For some unknown reason, the computers that run the base have shut down and subsequently the base is dangerously close to meltdown. Your mission is to stop the reactor from melting down and destroy the mother alien in the central reactor.
Fortunately, you don't have to travel to the base yourself. Instead you've given two droids (from a possible choice of six) to do your bidding by remote control. Each droid has its own specific strengths and weaknesses, and learning exactly what they are is part of the key to success.
As part of the computer malfunction, all the levels of Astra apart from level one have been sealed, and progression to the higher levels is achieved by reaching a certain score, whereupon you are allowed access to the next one. If you can't be bothered to go about solving the puzzles in the game, you can simply blast everything you see with your lasers until the target score is reached. This, however, is a time- and energy-consuming process, so the best way to actually complete the game is to set about actually sorting out the problems on each level in turn. The puzzles are of a fairly simple nature and require more dexterity than strategic thought, due to the game's arcade overtones. For example, temporarily slowing down the bases rapidly rising temperature is done simply by nudging up against a barrel of cooling fluid and pushing it down a chute.
Completing the mission is not just a case of methodically dropping barrels down holes and blowing up doors though. There are Quadralien nasties lurking about which pose problems all of their own, while there are certain parts of the floor that must be avoided, such as the earthing boxes that immediately drain a droid of all its power should it stumble onto one. Fortunately there are places where hapless droids can take a sort of pit-stop in order to refresh themselves. The information consoles allow you to recharge your batteries, clean any radioactivity from you and gain information on the current level's features.
Quadralien is a bit of a let-down after such an impressive debut release. It seems to me that the designers have tried to produce something completely original, and they deserve credit for that alone. However, the game has been very poorly executed, and the end result is something of a disappointment. Badly defined sprites and backdrops accompanied by extremely shaky scrolling all helped to put me off from the very start, as did the terribly depressing music (probably Dave Whittaker's worst so far). Gameplay suffers quite seriously as a result of these cosmetic shortcomings, and because of this the overall product falls uncomfortably between mediocre and dire. Give it a miss.