Klax is a 1989 computer puzzle game designed by Dave Akers and Mark Stephen Pierce. The object is to line up colored blocks into rows of similar colors to make them disappear, similar to Columns. Atari Games originally released it as a coin-op follow up to Tetris, about which they were tangled in a legal dispute at the time.
Akers programmed Klax in just a few weeks using Amiga Basic, then ported it line-by-line to C. In a 1990 interview, he said he wanted to "produce something playable, compact and relatively quick to develop." His influences were both Tetris and tic-tac-toe. He chose the name from the sound tiles make rolling across the screen.
The prototype game ran on the same hardware as Escape from the Planet of the Robot Monsters.
Atari Games released Klax in February 1990, and soon called it a "major arcade hit". They quickly released several home versions under the Tengen brand. Akers created the Nintendo Entertainment System and Mega Drive/Genesis editions himself. Some 16-bit conversions featured improved graphics.
Klax received the Parents' Choice Foundation's seal of approval in 1990, won Best Mind Game at the 1991 European Computer Leisure Awards, and Dennis Lynch of the Chicago Tribune named it the Best Cartridge of 1990.
Midway Games gained the rights to Klax upon purchasing Atari Games in 1996. The title has been re-released in retro compilations for modern consoles. A 1999 press release called it Midway's "tic-tac tile puzzle game."
Klax's catchphrase, "It is the nineties and there is time for Klax", appears during the game's attract mode. The Game Boy Color version of the game, released in 1999, changed "nineties" to "millennium." Later versions, such as the 2005 Game Boy Advance version, still use "nineties."
Klax features a conveyor belt at the top of the screen. It constantly rolls toward the playing area, delivering a steady supply of blocks. The player controls a small device which sits at the interface between the conveyor belt and the playing area, and can be moved left and right to catch the blocks and either deposit them in the playing area or push them back up the conveyor belt. The device can hold up to five blocks. A block which is not caught and placed in the playing area or pushed back up the belt is considered a drop. The blocks are solid colours, but there is also a flashing block which can be used as a wildcard on any colour.
Klax consists of 100 levels grouped into blocks of five. At the beginning of the game and after each fifth level (levels divisible by five, except for Level 95 and 100), a player can choose to skip five or ten levels. Skipping levels gives bonus points and more drops.
In the playing area, blocks can be eliminated by getting three or more "Klaxes" (groups) of the same color in a line. The line may be horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. A multiple grouping (i.e., one vertical and horizontal) counts as two Klaxes. In a few early levels, the player may be able to warp ahead 45 levels if he builds a large X with five blocks for each diagonal. Doing so awards a 600,000 point bonus (plus any due warp bonus).
There are 100 levels in Klax, and a score of 250,000 is required to complete the last level. The unreleased Atari 7800 version added three "impossible" levels.
A player also earns a multiplier for creating multiple Klaxs and combinations. Multipliers can take effect in two variations. Most commonly, a player receives a bonus multiplier for each Klax created, which continues if he/she creates a combination. For example, if the player makes a vertical-3 and a diagonal-3 at the same time, the score is 50 + 5,000 = 5,050 * 2 = 10,100 points. If the player then combos into a diagonal-3, the player receives 5,000 * 3 = 15,000 points.
The second variation is that the player receives a bonus multiplier only if the player creates a combination. This multiplier increases only by one in each combo iteration.