Atari 2600 – Quadrun


It’s hardly even “fun times two”.

This is another original game from Atari but, weirdly enough, is very hard to obtain nowadays. They only produced like 10k copies and only sold them via mail order.
The reason? The playtesters thought the game was too hard so Atari didn’t have much faith in it. More on that later.
It’s also one of two games for the system to feature voice synthesis.

Long ago, the peaceful land of Quad was invaded by cruel Captors who rounded up all the helpless inhabitants and imprisoned them in cages. The Captors called their prisoners “Runts”. And the name has stuck. Now you’ve come to Quad to rescue the Runts and destroy their Captors with your special weapon: phaser balls.

That also what I call my weapon…if you catch my drift.

After pressing ‘reset’ you are greeted with a male voice saying “Quadrun” three times.
Its clearly understandable and a great introduction for the coming psychedelic experience.

The game takes place in some sort of prison that looks like a crystal and a playing field in the shape of a cross. In the middle is the cage where the Runts are being held.
You can teleport around the prison by pressing the corresponding direction. If you want to go left or right you have to bump into the walls.
It’s slightly confusing.
The Captors will appear on the lower or upper side and they don’t really seem to care about you. Shoot them with your phaser ball but make sure to catch it after your attack. Lose three balls and the game ends. When you successfully crush an enemy a Runt will escape from prison. Catch him before the fool runs to his death.

There are five waves featuring different enemies. Defeat them all and…you guessed it…keep on playing until you’ve run out of lives.

First of all: I like how trippy this game looks.
The enemy design is not very original and the surroundings are blocky as heck but all the random colors that move around every surface surely gets me in the mood.
The sound effects, on the other hand, are flat out annoying. The frequent high-pitched *beeps* make me reach for the remote rather quickly.

The gameplay…is rough.
Having to catch your ‘bullet’ after every shot is kinda silly and slows the game down, hindering me to get into a consistent flow (which would’ve been great considering the dreamy aesthetics).
It also doesn’t help that the phaser balls are tiny dots that can be easily missed.
I hope you love sitting two inches away from your telly in order to see a darn thing.
I also dislike the movement system. Just let me fly around freely instead of some confusing teleportation mechanic.

Almost everything about Quadrun is unnecessarily confusing and complicated. I died over and over until I somehow figured out how the play the game. And yes, that’s after reading the manual.
It’s a shame really. This could’ve been an obscure little gem in the vein of Yars Revenge.

Quadrun is a frustrating mess, albeit an interesting one.





2 thoughts on “Atari 2600 – Quadrun

  1. I think it says everything about Quadrun that when I tried to watch a video of somebody playing, I kept finding myself staring fixedly at the pulsating gradient ‘crystal’ walls instead of noticing jack about the actual gameplay. I wonder why they went to the length of including the voice sample at the very beginning, only to spend the entire actual game making the poor Atari sound like it had uncontrollable gas…

    Liked by 1 person

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