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Les Dossiers de Passion MSX

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Pour lire les dossiers de Passion MSX en Anglais: Games - Emulation - Hardware - Interviews - The Box

Dossiers > Articles and Reviews in English > Games > [ENG] Quarth: Earth’s destiny is in your hands

[ENG] Quarth: Earth’s destiny is in your hands

The Story: Sometime during the first half of the 20th Century, the Milky Way was the innocent victim of a deadly Black Hole. This ferocious phenomenon desired to have a gravity of its own, and everything it touched (planets, asteroids, etc) transformed into blocks. Those blocks had different shapes and a very destructive goal as well. In groups, those 'baddies' were heading for Earth. The scientists had discovered the phenomenon and had prepared a way to defeat them. Quarth, the spaceship, guided by the Angels that God sent, was launched into space in order to destroy the villains. Destiny of planet Earth was in your hands... The Review: This time I want to have a closer look to one underestimated and relatively unknown game released more than a decade ago: Quarth. Less known, surely, since it was the last game produced by Konami for the MSX platform at a time where consoles were way more popular than the 'dying' MSX. The game also suffered of popularity when great games like Tetris, Columns or the Mario series were top of the charts at that time. Not helping was also the fact the game was not officially released in Europe (in fact the MSX was gone), and the only way you could procure it was through special import channels. Reports tell the game was more popular in Japan and was played in numerous arcade rooms. Anyhow, Quarth had great potential, a simple and yet very entertaining story line accompanied by very nice SCC music. 'Knowing Konami making something special of every game type ever thought up, Quarth is well worth having and playing. Using the Tetris-like shapes making up the weirdest of shapes to clear it even outruns normal Tetris. Needed a week to finish the 1-player game, loving every minute of it. The 2-player battlemode is cool when playing versus another good player.' (BiFi) Although Quarth is a typical puzzle / arcade game, it differs from many other games of its kind by having real ending. This would suggest unfortunately that for many, once finished, Quarth is of little interest to be replayed. If you want to give Quarth a try after reading this review, you will quickly notice this statement is not true - the game can be replayed endlessly bringing each time its part of fun!


Quarth's Intro Animation: short but nicely done.

Controlling Quarth is very easy. You can move it from right to left while the screen scrolls down. The playing field is filled with various blocks and your aim is to fill them in so they form complete rectangles or squares. Only when you succeed in this mission, the concerned blocks will disappear. New 'unformed' blocks appear while the playing field scrolls down making you play into full action at all times. No time to rest! As soon as a line of blocks reaches the bottom line, it is Game Over (you have 10 seconds to decide if you want to retry the level). Each Level consists of 9 Areas and you progress to the next level once you've cleared the last area. 'Quarth, Addictive, Fun and GREAT FOR PARTIES!'(Filip S. Slagter) A Quarth game can last a good hour if you play it from beginning to end, so if you don't have the patience to continue playing for hours, you can set your own aim to improve your score. Points are awarded for filling blocks but are significantly increased when you fill more than 3 of them at once. To illustrate, you could for instance fill a block connected to another and so on. While the game progresses, the screen scrolls down faster and faster adding extra difficulty. The 9th level is certainly 4 or 5 times as fast as Level 1 so you're up for a great challenge to see the game ending! 'Quarth is a real family game which you can play all the time...One of the best Tetris variants I've ever seen.' (KoetjeMSX) At Konami, they would never think of a game without special options. Quarth is no exception and I recommend you to take advantage of them. From time to time you will see blocks of a different colour: fill them in! Depending on the colour of the blocks (silver, yellow...) you will benefit from either extra 3,000 points, a temporary freeze of the scrolling, double-points or best it will just clear the screen (and gives you a little breathe). To add to the fun of Quarth, the game comes with three different play modes. Single-player as described above, Two-player in co-operative mode and finally the most fun of all a two-player battle mode! 'Quarth is one of the most ultimate awesome challenging, not to mention multiplayer, game I have ever played. You need to be able to think fast and logically, and of course have considerable skill with your joypad/keyboard. On the MSX Marathons of the previous years we held competitions, those were really cool. Especially if you're playing against another good player.' (Grauw) The co-operative mode (2P Mode 1) is fun and will enable you to reach easily the higher levels of the game. The only really frustrating part of it is that the players Quarth's cannot cross each other meaning you ever play on the left side of the screen or on the right side of the screen - something Konami could have thought of! Battle mode is really fun as you can play against your best friend if you wish and then you could be playing Quarth endlessly. The screen is simply split into two and same blocks appear for both players. All about tactics, being quick and especially focusing in beating a human opponent. In this mode, when you clear three or more blocks at once, you hide partially your opponent's playing field. It's not only about being quick and clearing your screen but sending batches of blocks to your neighbour can be very frustrating !


Left: Single Player; Right: Two-player Cooperative

Quarth is a well-executed game with plenty game modes for a MSX game. Each game mode can be configured as you wish. You can for instance select one out of fourth different Quarths, select the level you wish to start the game (all levels are available), select the starting game speed and choose the background music. A little anecdote, when selecting Configuration in 2P Mode 2, check the little spelling mistake (see screenshot below)... something I am not used to from Konami.


Left: Two-player Battle, Right: Two-Player Battle Options

A word must be said about the graphics and the music. This is a typical puzzle / arcade game and there is not too much too expect from the graphics. They are OK but not the most beautiful you will ever see on MSX. I feel some of the backgrounds are a bit repetitive but remember you play Quarth for its great playability, surely not for the graphics! 'Quarth is a nice game, but the single-player mode is missing something. It's just too easy. I managed to complete the game the first day I got it. 2-player mode is fun too, unless you have to play it with a joystick.' (Arjan) Sounds and music are very nice, once you play Quarth you keep playing the tunes in your head for hours - Konami did a great job here. There are basically 4 different background music's that you can select at the start of a game - each music accompanies you during the entire game and each time you reach Area 8 of a level, it accelerates to raise even further your adrenaline. All-in-all Quarth is in my top list of MSX games. I always enjoy playing it but once you've been playing it too much you get to know almost every block combination and you can even anticipate what will come up next on the playing field. Single-player mode has its limits but two-players mode is always fun, especially if you play against someone that matches your skills. 'Quarth RULEZ noting more noting less' (Dominic) Quarth is a rare game in Europe. To get hold of a copy try your chance on various auction sites like Ebay (expect to pay around €25-30 for a boxed version, €15-20 for the cartridge only), you might find a copy there. If in the meantime you want to try out the game, Konami released a playable Demo of it : Download!. Pros


  • Simple rules, great concept.

  • Extended playing modes including 2-player battle (lot of fun!).

  • Game options can be customised.

  • Music (SCC) is top class, one of the best Konami ever made on MSX.

  • Being the last Konami MSX game, you must get a copy!


Cons

  • With a bit of training, Quarth is relatively easy.

  • One-player mode is somewhat repetitive.

  • Graphics are average.


Specifications MSX2, MSX2+ Cartridge. MegaROM with SCC Sound-Chip.


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