Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Top 30 Hardest NES Games Ever. Day 10


I love it when something automatically and forever dates itself!  Be it the Beastie Boys gettin' on down for the year 2000, Ton Loc in the 80's bein' down with the ladies, or Klax in the 90's, there is nothing better than something that says "define me by era I sprung from!"

Klax is the first of four puzzle games that make it into the countdown.  An innovative and interesting puzzler, Klax combines the game play of a drop puzzler with the frenetic atmosphere of a juggling act.  Klax demands quick reflexes, problem solving skills, and the ability to think many moves down the road.  Unlike many puzzle games which remain open ended and allow you to play until you have lost your mind (thank you years of Tetris), Klax has a definite end.  All you must do is survive 100 waves and you can crown yourself a Klax Master! (and if you go that far, you can go ahead and rule out dating for a while...)  Clearing those 100 waves is another story.

One of Klax's greatest strengths is that it provides you with different objectives for each wave.  Some waves ask you to simply complete a certain number of klaxes (lines of 3 like colored tiles), others want you to reach a particular score, clear a number of a certain kind of klax like diagonal, and others just want you to handle a specific number of tiles.  Some of these objectives are fairly easy.  Score is a particularly simple objective once you have a good klax strategy; diagonals are your best bet for big points, combos too.  Others can be maddening.  Getting a large number of horizontals can have you beating your head into a wall pretty quickly.  However, the variety of the challenges give you plenty of opportunity to develop good strategies and force you to think about the game in a lot of different ways.

Early on, Klax will seem like a pretty easy game to play and be successful at.  The initial objectives are pretty easy to obtain and the game speed is manageable.  And then you get somewhere around wave 40 and you forget that you once thought this game was just a simple, fun puzzler.  The objectives get to be absurd (make 75 diagonals...), the tiles start marching down the ramp in greater numbers and at a rapid pace, and the sounds of those tiles start thump-thump-thumping in your brain raising your blood pressure and making you think that everyone is out to get you.
Bet she distracted you just now!
Ok, so that last bit might be a bit hyperbolic, but you get the idea.  In the later levels, Klax gets pretty intense.  Challenges that before seemed doable become very un-doable and you will be playing the same wave many, many times until you get it right.  But therein lies one of the game's biggest give-aways: endless continues.  So many games would be much more difficult were it not for the infinite continues.  Klax is undeniably one of those.  Can't complete a wave, no big deal, you can try again, and again.  And I did, many waves in the 70's got played sometimes for hours.  As a matter of fact, I firmly believe the only reason I did not beat this game was because something (probably the lovely wife) distracted me and I forgot to hit continue somewhere around wave 75!  I would have made another run at it, but I had just spent like 3 hours playing and my time was almost up.  I'll definitely go back someday and crown myself a Klax Master (I don't have to worry, I'm married and she's a nerd too, suckers!)
The other challenge buster in Klax is the warp feature.  In about 15 minutes you can be playing well into waves 60+ thanks to the fact that every so many waves you are offered the opportunity to skip ahead (as much as 15 levels!) to a level higher up.  While this is not recommended for beginners, it is certainly an easy way to bypass half of the game and get right to the tough stuff at the end.
In theory, you can probably beat Klax in a couple of hours with some serious skills and the occasional lucky break.  The challenge in the later levels is very high and require some serious puzzle solving abilities in order for the objectives to be reached.  There is definitely a wall somewhere around wave 80 that will separate the men from the boys (and women from the girls, and adult hermaphrodites from the child hermaphrodites, we're not sexist around here).  However, thanks to the endless continues and easy warp feature Klax finds its home down here at #21 on the list.  The remaining three puzzle games will not be as kind.
George Clymer, signer of the Declaration of Independence, Klax Master.


  1. i'm surprised that you stuck with listening the sound effects while playing cause this game has some of my favourite Nintendo Music ever !

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