Saturday, 6 December 2014

Quedex (Thalamus, 1987)

Designed and written by Stavros Fasoulas for the Commodore 64, with music by Matt Gray and title screen by Paul "Dokk" Docherty. Released in 1988 as "Mindroll" in the United States through Epyx.

As Mindroll, Quedex was converted and released worldwide through Epyx and Thalamus for:

IBM-PC compatibles, 1988:
Created by Stavros Fasoulas
Coding by Kenneth C. Dullea III
Graphics by Bradley W. Schenck
Music by Scott T. Etherton
Directed by Baron Reichart Kurt von Wolfshield
Special Magic by Edgar Tolentino

Commodore Amiga, 1989:
Coding by Baron Reichart Kurt von Wolfshield and Bradley W. Schenck
Graphics by Bradley W. Schenck
Music by Scott T. Etherton

TRS-80 CoCo, 1989:
Converted by Jesse Taylor



Seeing as it is now the 6th of December, the Finnish Independence Day, it's only suitable to feature something to support the Finnishness of this blog, and what could be more suitable than a comparison of a Finnish game. There aren't too many Finnish retro games that I can do a proper comparison about, so here's one of the very rare specimen: Quedex - The Quest for Ultimate Dexterity, as it is subtitled in the original cover inlay. And apparently, it's pronounced "cue-dex", not "kweddex". (Source: ACE magazine, issue #1)

Stavros Fasoulas was only known for his incredibly challenging and impressive shoot'em-ups, Sanxion and Delta, before he came up with Quedex. At least, so he was for the gaming world outside of Finland. Now with all the information readily available on the internet, everybody who has the inclination to find out, might know that he was already responsible for a few earlier games for the VIC-20 and the C64. But back in 1987, Quedex came as a complete surprise to most of the C64 gaming world, being a strange ball-rolling multi-directional puzzler, instead of yet another fantastic shooter.

At the time of release, Quedex got mostly very positive reviews, although some reviewers couldn't get themselves to enjoy such a unique piece of gaming software, and gave it less than mediocre scores. Even today, retrogamers consider Quedex to be either a masterpiece or a piece of garbage. For me, this is the only true Stavros gem, because it's the only one in his catalogue that is really a properly original one. Of course, the game still was somewhat of a hit, riding on the wave of Stavros' earlier titles, and so it was converted for a few other computers. But because the original had to be renamed for the North American market (was the title too difficult to pronounce?), the conversions were only to be released as Mindroll, which is an astoundingly boring name.

Currently, the original game has a score of 7.5 from 60 voters at Lemon64, while the Amiga conversion has a meagre 5.6 from only 5 votes at LemonAmiga. A score for the DOS version could only be found at MobyGames this time, which is a 3.6 out of 5 from 3 votes. No proper scores to be found for the TRS version. MobyGames lists an Atari ST version to exist, but I haven't found a trace of it from any Atari sites so far... peculiar.



Being a puzzle game, and an unusual one at that, Quedex is one to divide opinions spectacularly. Some people think it's one of the best games ever on the C64, some loath it with a passion. Unfortunately, Quedex is also one of those games that cannot be properly described without giving every necessary bit of information, which is exactly why I like it, but I shall try to make it short.

You roll a ball around on many different sorts of "planes", as the levels are called here, doing different kinds of missions. Occasionally, you are allowed to jump for either a limited number of times, or infinitely, depending on the plane. There are 10 planes in total, some of which contain as many as 5 different sub-planes. You are given a time limit for each plane, and if you fail to complete the mission in time, it's game over. Reaching the goal, even with only partial success, means you win the round, and are given an opportunity to get some bonus points from a memory-based bonus game. Beat all the 10 levels, and you beat the game.

It's not rocket science, but it certainly is a unique sort of a game. Not only does it keep you on the edge of your seat for long periods of time, but it's one of the few games of its time that is seriously able to hone your joystick skills. It doesn't necessarily require a state-of-the-art joystick, but it requires a good knowledge on how to use your controller to your biggest advantage. Because Quedex was so clearly made to be played on a joystick, it is no wonder that it was never converted for a joypad-based gaming console. And that is exactly the way we like it.



I'll skip the loading bit this time, because the original is the only version ever released on tape. That said, the flow of playability is somehow restrained on the AMIGA version by loading between every level. Now, on to the game itself.

You control a ball with your chosen method of control, although joystick is definitely the advisable choice. The ball can be rolled into all 8 directions, and the fire button is used for jumping, when available. The puzzle elements come into the game in form of different sorts of mazes, most of which require you to collect keys or other items before you can finish the level. Here are described all the levels in as much detail as I can bother to write...

Plane 1. This is the Quedex equivalent of target practice. The level is divided into 5 parts. In part one, you need to move your ball through a straight line of connected squares by stopping at every square. If you fail to reach the next square smoothly, or if you roll over it to the next one, you need to start over from the beginning. In part two, you move around a large checkered area, in which you have roll over the small flashing squares and finally fall into a big black hole. The third part is a similar case as the second one, but you move on a force field that will ... do something...?, so you need to be quick. Part four is an easier version of part two - bigger squares, smaller area. The fifth and final area is a tunnel, where you need to go southwards and zig-zag between the solid square obstacles and get those yellow flashing squares until you reach the goal.

Plane 2. This is a maze level, in which you need to collect keys to open doors, go through the pentagram teleports and watch out for the death traps. You can jump as much as you like here.

Plane 3. Another maze level. In this one, you need to collect four hidden amulets which you cannot see until you are close enough to them. This maze is divided into six sections, which include time-consuming force fields, invisible walls and teleports.

Plane 4. Here we have an automatic vertical scroller of a level, with force fields, jump platforms and breakable blocks which take your time off. Fun and different, when you know what you're doing, but hell when you don't.

Plane 5. A slide puzzle of sorts. You roll your ball one square at a time through a field of yellow squares, which need to be turned into squares with tile patterns. On the field, there are also black squares, which are safe spots, and flashing squares, which will make all of the squares in its crosslines toggle. You have a limited amount of jumps here as well, which can be very useful.

Plane 6. Yet another maze level, but this one has pipes which can suck you in and throw you into death traps. Again, you need to collect question marks (which have both positive and negative effects) before you can proceed to the exit. Probably the most tiresome level of the whole game.

Plane 7. The easiest level to get through, since there are GOAL squares everywhere and no possibility to die apart from the time running out if you decide to suddenly make some coffee or something, but if you want to get all the extra time items, you need to be really careful and jump with precision. There is a second screen to this, if you can manage to empty the first one. It is highly recommended that you visit this stage only when you absolutely need to, because as with every other stage, you can only complete it once during a game.

Plane 8. A fast and very intimidating maze. Your ball moves semi-automatically here, and once you start moving, you can't stop it, only steer to other passageways. You need to collect four keys before proceeding to the GOAL at the center of the maze, but the floors will vanish procedurally in a very quick and unpredictable fashion, so this might require quite a lot of practice and patience. Although, good luck can also be to your advantage. You can't die from falling down a vanished floor, but you will lose the time you spent on that attempt, and then start the level from the beginning.

Plane 9. This one is a tough test for precision and speed. A large percentage of the level is made of that time-consuming force field, so you need to be careful not to steer off of the narrow passages. These passages, however, are occupied by dozens of blocks you need to break, but in order to do so, you need to collect those plus sign items at both ends of each passage, as they will give you some extra speed for a brief period of time, which enables you to break the blocks. There is a good strategy to this, but requires a lot of practice.

Plane 10. Initially the most confusing level is also probably the most interesting one of the lot. You need to jump through a series of platforms of different kinds and on different levels to get to the GOAL that is to your left at the start. This is probably the only time when you need to really focus on the curious rule, that falling down more than one level after jump will take off 5 seconds (for each level of drop) of your time. Very challenging, but feels really good, once you manage to complete it.

The bonus levels are always the same - you follow the directions given to you by the game, starting with four movements and adding one to the next random segment for when you complete the next level. Only the speed by which your directions are given differ slightly, but honestly, it matters very little in the end. It's only a test for your memorizing skills.

For most of the levels, or planes if you prefer, the controllability of the ball is the same. This includes the often infuriatingly precise collision detection, which grabs the effect of the next square if you happen to cross over to it just by a couple of pixels. This means, for instance, that it's very difficult to avoid the force fields anywhere in the game, or the numerous goals in level 7. Otherwise, the ball rolls with a heavy but fairly good and round feel - it rolls with a nice and semi-realistic inertia, but stops quicker than you'd presume. If you are having trouble with the game, my suggestion is to find out which levels you are the most comfortable with, and then start practicing the ones you are not. It's better to start with the difficult ones, since you won't be spending as much of your spare time with the easy ones, and you're going to need every bit of extra time you can get. That, or go find a trained version and cheat your way through. In any case, you will not find much comfort in any order you play, since the difficulty level arises relatively to the order in which you play the game, so Quedex definitely gives you a good amount of variety.

Your style of gameplay needs to be altered, sometimes dramatically when you change to any of the conversions. In the DOS version, the ball feels like it has legs under its body, and often feels like there is no inertia involved whatsoever. The keyboard controls force you to play with the numpad, so that you can use diagonals, which is incredibly uncomfortable, so to even get a proper chance at playing this game like it's supposed to, you NEED to have a joystick. However, at least when playing in DOSbox, stopping the ball or cornering after a long continuous period of movement can often be impossibly laggy, so you might need to install yourself that hardcore PC emulator (PCem) I mentioned a while ago in my Emulators! entry, or get yourself a proper old PC. I haven't had any luck getting the game work any better with my proper old DOS-PC setup, and neither have I had much luck in setting up a properly working virtual old PC on PCem, so I'm currently assuming that the game doesn't work very well in DOS. Anyway, getting back to the game itself, there are some very notable gameplay differences here, particularly regarding levels 5, 8 and 9. In level 5, your ball moves by the pixel instead of by squares, which it does in the original. In level 8, you control the ball completely by yourself, instead of it having a semi-automatic way of moving. Level 9's speed cross items give you more time for breaking those blocks than in any other version, but here, the ball needs more runway to get up to the breaking speed after having broken one block, so the extra speed time is useful and appreciated. Finally, the DOS version has a much less exact collision detection than the original, so you can have more lucky chances here, which is a nice compensation for all the problems.

Happily, the AMIGA version plays slightly closer to the original, having almost a proper sense of inertia and speed. Only level 8 plays faster and more random than the original, and just to kill the playability even more effectively, the semi-automatic movement makes the ball to often get stuck humping a wall furiously like a dog in heat. Also, since level 10 also plays faster, it feels much more difficult to get a grip of the ball. Otherwise, it's not that bad a conversion as one might have thought. If the C64 original is the normal version, this one could be called the hard version.

Last, but surprisingly not the least, we have the TRS-80 CoCo version, which plays remarkably well for most of the time. While this one has not the subtle sense of inertia that this game really requires in order to be truly playable, it's not nearly as bad as the DOS version. The game speed is often very close to the original, but still keeps the overall pace to a rather sedate one, as none of the speeding elements really affect it the way they do in the original. Level 8 is probably the most playable one from all the versions, due to it having a more sedate speed, and the semi-automatic movement still applies, and it works just as well as in the original. However, level 4 works similarly to the DOS version of it, and level 9 doesn't give you much of indication whether or not you happen to be moving fast or not, so the only way to know it is that you don't break any blocks anymore.

I don't think it comes as much of a surprise that the two Commodore versions are at the top, with the original naturally in the lead. What I did find a bit surprising was how much more playable the CoCo version was compared to the DOS version, and even at one point rivaled the original in playability, so it's actually a surprisingly tight competition between CoCo and Amiga.

3. TRS-80 COCO



When it comes to the graphics, the 8-bit versions and the 16-bit versions seem like entirely different games. We shall begin with the loading screens and title sequences this time, because we skipped them earlier.

Loading screens from Commodore 64 PAL (left) and NTSC (right) versions.
First, here we have the two C64 loading screens from the original PAL tape version released by Thalamus, and the NTSC disk version released by Epyx. The Epyx loader is made to look thematically closer to the in-game graphics, while the original is a rendition of the cover art by Oli Frey. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the TRS-80 CoCo version appears to have been only released on cartridge (!), although you can find a disk transfer of it from the internet, so it doesn't have a loading screen.

Title screens from Commodore 64 PAL and NTSC versions (left) and different screen modes of TRS-80 CoCo's (right).

On the CoCo, you can start up the game in two different screen modes, both of which still look a bit different when using the wrong screen format with each mode. And then there's also a different palette for CoCo 1/2 and CoCo 3, which can be seen HERE. I didn't have much luck in getting the CoCo 1/2 emulation working to get my own screens. In any case, I decided to go with the RGB in RGB settings on my VCC. The two C64 title screens don't have much else different than the title itself, and the Thalamus copyright bit missing from the Epyx release.

Title sequences from the DOS EGA version (above) and the Commodore Amiga version (below).
Since the 16-bits have more of everything in their hardware, it's only natural that they should feature more of everything possible. So, the AMIGA and DOS versions had an intro sequence added to them. Of course, being 1988/89 still, the DOS version couldn't possibly look as good as the AMIGA version, having only the ability to utilise only the Enhanced Graphics Adapter or the Tandy Graphics Adapter standards at best. I'll show you the full DOS screen modes comparison later on, but I will only include EGA screenshots until that time.

Level select screens from Commodore 64 PAL (left above) and NTSC (left below), TRS-80 CoCo 3 (middle),
DOS EGA (right above) and Commodore Amiga (right below).

When you start the game, the first thing that you will come across is the level select screen. Although it doesn't offer any particularly interesting graphical elements (at least on the 8-bits), it does have different level selection menu layouts on all the 8-bit versions, as well having another different one that is featured on both of the 16-bit versions. The AMIGA version is the clear winner here, since it actually shows you all the levels all the time, but shows which ones you have completed already. On the 8-bits, only the TRS-80 version gives you this information. Not that it matters a whole lot, since it's not very graphical. From this point on, I shall drop the NTSC C64 version from the collages, since the only difference in it to the PAL version is the still missing Thalamus copyright.

8-bit screenshots from Plane 1: Commodore 64 (above) and TRS-80 CoCo 3 (below).
As level 1 is played in 5 different parts, I decided to divide this one up to two sections - the 8-bits and the 16-bits. The first thing you will notice being different between the two 8-bits is probably the look of the ball, which on the C64 is a finely made steel ball with some lighting effect circling on it to create a more rounded feel to it. On the TRS-80, it is an 8-ball taken from a pool table, which doesn't have as finely tuned animation to it as the steel ball on the C64 has. I suspect the second thing you'd notice, would be that the informational sidebar isn't even nearly as wide on the TRS-80 as it is on the C64, nor is it even nearly as colourful. And it seems that the colours used in the info bar, as well as in the shading of the 8-ball are directly related to the other colours in the level. Speaking of colours, the first level already shows us that the 8-ball on the TRS-80 features no colouring effects when taking damage or being under the influence of a speed bonus, while the C64 steel ball goes red when taking damage, and blue when speeding. Otherwise, the TRS-80 version looks surprisingly close to the C64 original.

16-bit screenshots from Plane 1: DOS EGA (above) and Commodore Amiga (below.

More power in hardware gets more things to experience, that's just the way it usually goes. As well as having much more graphically heavy basic things, such as the info bar and even floor squares, all the backgrounds are now made to look like you're actually in some specific location instead of empty space. I'm not sure if this adds anything important to the game, but it sure looks different. At this point, the only thing that I consider to be truly superior on the AMIGA to the DOS version is the more subtle and atmospheric use of colour. Otherwise, the graphics are fairly similar in both - animations and all.

Screenshots from Plane 2, left to right:
Commodore 64, TRS-80 CoCo, DOS EGA, Commodore Amiga.

In case it escaped your notice in the first level, the screen sizes are remarkably different on the 8-bits. Here, level 2 gives a better show of contrast, because the graphics are otherwise very similar and the screen resolution is basically the same, so you can count the height and width of both the 8-bit versions easily without giving any notice to pixels. Counting by the square-shaped floorpanels, the action screen width is pretty much the same, but there is quite a lot more of the screen vertically on the C64. This is mostly because a bit of the lower part of the screen on the TRS-80 has been sacrificed for the use of commentary, such as "-10 seconds" or so, which are shown in the sidebar on the C64.

On the 16-bits, the corridors have been made wider, and the view from above has been made to look more 3D. It is a bit distracting at first, but since the map is pretty much the same, it's easy to get accustomed to it. Again, the AMIGA's more subtle colouring works well to its advantage, compared to the DOS version.

Screenshots from Plane 3, left to right:
Commodore 64, TRS-80 CoCo, DOS EGA, Commodore Amiga.

As we go further along with the levels, I do get a feeling that the original unspecified spacey location serves the game better than the slightly Egyptian-themed 16-bit aesthetic mess. This is one of those levels that really suffer from an overwhelmingly busy re-presentation. The force fields on the 16-bits look like something from a completely different game even, and the floor pattern looks even more psychedelic than the tile-based pattern on the 8-bits. Strangely, the DOS and AMIGA versions now differ slightly in level design, as you see from the screenshots. It's not much, but it does make the DOS version look a bit hurriedly made.

Screenshots from Plane 4, left to right:
Commodore 64, TRS-80 CoCo, DOS EGA, Commodore Amiga.

Here's another example of different variety of psychedelia, the AMIGA version clearly having the most of it. There is also some slight difference in level design to be noticed - as you see from the same sections shown in the C64 and AMIGA screenshots. Now is also the first time we can see how the limited jumps are shown in each version. For me, the C64 version works best, because iconized numbers are easier to see when not looking straight at them than a number, which, with an imperfect vision can be seen as just about any other number in a hurry when you're not looking straight at it. Having two zeroes in front of it, as it appears on the TRS-80, can only make it worse.

Screenshots from Plane 5, left to right:
Commodore 64, TRS-80 CoCo, DOS EGA, Commodore Amiga.

Level 5, being originally based on movement by the squares, looks very much its part on all machines. The 8-bit versions look simple and effective, while the 16-bits take yet another hi-tech approach to it, which might take some getting used to. I have to say, they made the right choice by changing the empty (black) squares to ones with a bit of electronic board and microchips, because the black always looked like you might drop down from it. The squares of electricity take the place of those flashing squares from the 8-bits.

Screenshots from Plane 6, left to right:
Commodore 64, TRS-80 CoCo, DOS EGA, Commodore Amiga.

The thing that I most dislike about the 16-bit conversions, graphically, is that all the force fields look different in every level they happen to occupy. This level gives another one of those examples. On the 8-bits, you get those flashing unpatterned things, and then those that look like static on TV, and both are there for their own reasons. If I was playing this game for the first time ever on a 16-bit machine, I might possibly have a hard time getting to know everything about it, because the needlessly over-varying graphics only make the game confusing. I admit, it does add a good bit of variety and interest to a gamer who likes the game more for its strange graphics than its playability.

Screenshots from Plane 7, left to right:
Commodore 64, TRS-80 CoCo, DOS EGA, Commodore Amiga.

I put this different-looking version of level 7 here to point out how the game changes the levels by the order in which you make progress with the game. Most of the differences aren't nearly this notable, which is why I had to put it here. One other thing that got my notice here (although it has appeared earlier already) was the different-looking amulets and other collectables on the 8-bits and 16-bits: on the C64 and TRS-80, the bonus time collectable is a cross inside a ring, while the DOS and AMIGA versions seem to have Pepsi logos instead. This sort of thing can be seen throughout the game with the other collectables.

Screenshots from Plane 8, left to right:
Commodore 64, TRS-80 CoCo, DOS EGA, Commodore Amiga.

Here we sort of go back to level 2 and its clearly more-than-usually 3D'ish style. While the C64 level is now greyscale, the TRS-80 version stays in the brownish palette that was in level 2, probably to save some memory. Again, the 16-bits have their own specific look and colour scheme, but frankly, this level is such a hectic one that you rarely get to actually focus on the graphics. The problem is really in the level's execution on each conversion.

Screenshots from Plane 9, left to right:
Commodore 64, TRS-80 CoCo, DOS EGA, Commodore Amiga.

Once again, the 16-bit versions have an overabundance of decorative graphics, where less would easily suffice, and frankly, be more effective. At least you can see the speed difference more clearly on the 16-bits even without a different colouring on the eye-ball. I do think that the blue ball on the C64 is better, because it's easier to react to the change of colour than the change of speed.

Screenshots from Plane 10, left to right:
Commodore 64, TRS-80 CoCo, DOS EGA, Commodore Amiga.

In the final level, the graphical differences don't really matter all that much, since the basic idea is the same with all the elements, and thankfully, the level is quite restrained in its colouring and layout.

Screenshots from random bonus levels, left to right:
Commodore 64, TRS-80 CoCo, DOS EGA, Commodore Amiga.

This is just one example of the bonus levels, which all look the same apart from having a different colouring for every level. I think everything that can be said of the graphics have been said already with the earlier levels.

Entering your name on the high score list, left to right:
Commodore 64, DOS EGA, Commodore Amiga.

Graphically, getting a high score and entering your name on the list isn't much different from the earlier menu graphics, but they do differ enough to warrant some deeper inspection. You can't see it here, but the C64 high scores list contains six entries, and the DOS version has as many as nine. Both of them can only do three-letter entries, so it doesn't give you much of creative freedom. The AMIGA version only has five entries for the list, but it can handle 10 letters for an entry. Curiously, the TRS-80 version doesn't feature either a high scores list, nor a highest current score entry, probably because the game was only released on cartridge.

DOS screen modes comparison.

As promised, here is a look into the three graphic modes in the DOS version. As always, the CGA mode utilises four colours at once, which depend on the level you're on. Mostly, the colours seem to be yellow, green, red and black, but occasionally, you get an alternative colour scheme of white, black, cyan and pink. The EGA and Tandy modes both have 16 colours on the screen at once, and looks very similar to each other. Only in certain details, you can see some differences in colour, which in this case is a lighter shade of blue in Tandy mode, instead of dark grey in EGA. The difference is so slight, that I can't be bothered to decide which one I like better.

This is a difficult one to make any decisions upon, because I like graphics to be more functional than too ornamental. Of course, if the ornamentation doesn't affect the gameplay too much, then it's no problem, but in this case, it unfortunately does. Then again, if you're not playing the game, you might enjoy the wholesome graphics a lot more than the gameplay. Conclusion: I can only give these four versions their separate scores.




Although Quedex doesn't offer an endless stream of music (which is one of its strengths, really), it does have plenty enough of it. Since we skipped the loading part this time, I am obligated to acknowledge in this section, that there is a loading tune on the C64 original, which is a rather splendid uptempo tune with early elements of techno music, when it still didn't really exist. The game itself offers four tunes. The first one is played in the title screen, and up to while you are choosing your first plane to play. This is another very frantic tune, although now more leaning towards some sort of industrial rock than techno. Plane #4 offers a slightly more confusing and panicky tune that only adds to the hectic feel of the plane's fast and automatic scrolling. Plane #8 gives you more of pretty much the same, although it doesn't quite reach the level of confusion that the tune in plane #4 gives, which is actually good, since this one is confusing enough as it is. The last one is a more sedate and simple three-chord arpeggio-based tune that is played on the screen where you enter your name for the high score table. All tracks have a familiar type of sound that can only be attributed to music by Matt Gray, the bloke who has also made the soundtracks for Last Ninja 2, Tusker, Vendetta, Mean Streak, Hunter's Moon and many other more or less classic C64 games. By the way, Matt just finished with a Kickstarter campaign lately on remaking and releasing remixed versions of his C64 music, which raised an impressive total sum of money - you might want to check it out HERE, in case you missed it.

While there aren't that many tunes, Quedex offers plenty of sound effects, which basically means that there's never a truly quiet moment in the game, apart from the plane selection screens. For starters, the rolling of the ball makes a really nice rolling-like sound, but instead of being metallic, like it feels it should be, it's more rubbery. Perhaps the ball's material is something completely different, or perhaps the surface, who knows. Bump into walls, and you will get a short, falling "dunk" sound. Picking up an object makes a trembling bell-like sound, which fades out quickly. Falling down a hole makes a nicely cartoony falling whistle-like sound. Going through a teleport makes a low rumbling sound, which fades in and out. If, for some reason you happen to die, the ball will explode, and naturally this will come with an explosion-like sound effect. Rolling through one of the force fields or pipes in plane #6 will add a rhythmic white noise (or something of the kind) on top of the rolling. Completing a plane will play a brief melody of three notes repeated three times and ending with the first one, as if played on an electric guitar perhaps. Between completing a plane and the bonus stages, you hear the bonus score counter blipping away in a very familiar fashion, but I can't really explain what it sounds like. The directional arrows in the bonus stages each give their own pitch, using the same sound, so for some people like myself, it might be easier to actually remember the directions by the sound than by the visuals.

The only other 8-bit version is on the TRS-80, of which I had very little previous experience. While the visuals weren't as bad as I expected, soundwise the conversion is something akin to 48k Spectrum's early standards. Mainly, it's just single-channel bips and bops in various different segmentations. The only tune kept in the conversion is the main title tune, which of course is now missing the drum track, and the bass line is doing alternating lines with the melody, instead of having both played simultaneously. At least it's now played between every plane, instead of just in the title screen.

It won't come as a surprise that the AMIGA version uses sampled drums and other synthesized instruments for all the music and sound effects. This type of soundset can not be called a very personal or unique one, but then, Matt Gray also has his own distinctive style which can be recognized from any of his games as well. This just happens to have the same general sound that so many other Amiga games had, at least during that period. Anyway, the AMIGA version's musical offering is made up of four tunes again: the new intro tune, which is unlike anything heard in the original game; a slightly polished rearrangement of the main theme tune; and completely new tunes for Planes 4 and 8, neither of which really affect you in the same way as the originals do. You will be hearing the main theme tune quite often in this version as well, since it plays between every level and even during the bit where you enter your name on the high score list. Of course, the sound effects are closer to reality than what they are on the C64, although most of the sounds do have a slight sense of comedy in them. In a way, they have tried to make the Amiga conversion more light-hearted than the C64 original, in every way except perhaps the playability. This might work better for someone of a happier personality, but you have to remember, Stavros is a Finnish bloke. Matt Gray's darker and heavier soundtrack resonates better with our nationality, and so, serves the game much better - even with the less realistic sound effects.

And then there was one: the DOS version. I can't say much about it that doesn't feel like a repeat of the TRS-80 version, but there are a few things worth mentioning. Of course, it's a game that can only use the single-channel PC speaker for audio reproduction, so it's bleepity-bleep all the way. The intro tune is a bleepy rendition of the same intro tune that is on the AMIGA version, which doesn't exist on the TRS. The bleepy main title theme is only played the first time you enter the level selection screen. Tunes for planes #4 and #8 are of course bleepy renditions of the tunes from the AMIGA version. Otherwise, there is no other music around, even your entrance to the high score table has been made silent. Of course there are sound effects, which are just barely better from the ones on the TRS-80 version, although that can be argued. That said, I think it's already quite clear what the order shall be for this one...

4. TRS-80 COCO



Sure, go ahead and call me biased, but this is one of the true Finnish originals in gaming history, and the only proper platform for it is the one it was originally developed on and released for - the C64. Everything about it went so right the first time, and from the moment it got retitled for the North American market, the game's conversions went downhill. I think this is because none of the people involved in the conversions really understood the game's artistic value as a whole. Quedex might be a difficult game to understand and appreciate, and even more difficult to master, but it's nothing if not a unique piece of gaming history.

After all that, it's time to end with the improperly mathematical results:

1. COMMODORE 64: Playability 4, Graphics 2, Sounds 4 = TOTAL 10
2. COMMODORE AMIGA: Playability 3, Graphics 2, Sounds 3 = TOTAL 8
3. IBM-PC: Playability 1, Graphics 1, Sounds 2 = TOTAL 4
3. TRS-80: Playability 2, Graphics 1, Sounds 1 = TOTAL 4

As usual, the results don't really go well with the actual truth of how good each of the conversions actually are. If you have doubts, follow the Playability score.

Since this entry is written for the Finnish Independence Day, this would be a good time to remind you to take a look at my series of a History of Finnish Games (parts 1, 2, 3 + appendix) to remind yourselves, what sort of other material has come from this country, if you haven't read them previously. Another thing you should definitely take a look at is Juho Kuorikoski's wonderful book, Sinivalkoinen Pelikirja, which should have its English translation called "Play Finland: History of the Finnish Games Industry" released by Christmas. This book contains 30 years worth of information, so it's certainly a fine idea for a Christmas present, if I ever heard one!

Tähän loppuun lienee aiheellista toivottaa kaikille suomalaisille lukijoilleni eeppisen mainiota itsenäisyyspäivää! Translated to English, that's me wishing an epically splendid Independence Day to all the readers in Finland. ;-)

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it!
Comments, blah blah etc. You know the drill.




    1. Kuinka mainiota, kiitokset korjauksesta! Pyrin korjaamaan tiedot heti kun saan tähän jonkinlaisen selkeyden. =D Ja vielä, kiitos loistavista peleistä! =)