Quantum probably isn’t the first game that comes to mind when you think of the golden years of the arcade. The 1982 vector cabinet, designed by Betty Ryan, has maybe a less exciting concept than Asteroids or Centipede. In fact, the first time I played it was part of the Atari 50 collection.
Atari and Sneakybox’s Recharged line of titles aren’t leaving anything by the side of the road, however, as Quantum: Recharged is the newest release. Surprisingly, it’s low-key one of my favorites. I’ve never been a massive fan of score-chasing arcade titles, and that hasn’t changed with the Recharged games. I prefer games with a bit of progression to them, and there’s more of that in titles like Gravitar: Recharged. However, the simple and fast design of Quantum really sucked me in.
I need to stress that Quantum: Recharged is a rather small game. There’s no ending screen, there isn’t a tonne of modes, and your only real long-term goal is to climb the leaderboards. It’s at its best in short bursts. Even better, if you already own some of the Recharged games, it can be fun to sort of visit each of them in a row, like you might at an actual arcade. Just don’t expect it to sponge up your entire afternoon unless it really, really clicks hard for you.
Quantum Recharged is a rather simple game. You control a small… thing. Your goal is to create “dead zones” on the playing field to eliminate other… things. You do this by drawing an enclosed loop. Also, don’t touch anything that didn’t come out of you, because you’ll die.
The original Quantum required you to enclose an enemy in your loop, but for Recharged, dead zones stay on screen for a short while, and anything that crosses into one is eliminated. This means that you don’t have to enclose an enemy. You can simply anticipate your foe’s movements and drop a trap.
Your life bar can be filled to withstand up to three hits. There are a variety of enemies that move and attack in different ways. The goal of the game is to survive while building up your score. And that’s all there really is to it.
There’s a mission mode, but it seems that Sneakybox couldn’t really think of much else in terms of objectives beyond “defeat all the enemies.” However, it’s the closest thing to the progression we really get (beyond achievements), and there’s a separate leaderboard for your accumulated mission score. Even if it isn’t really much of a new way to play Quantum: Recharged, it’s not without its value.
However, there was something about the core gameplay that I really enjoyed. As I said, I don’t typically get too into score-rush games, but the Recharged titles are a decent take on the formula. Between the rippling neon visuals and the synthetic soundtrack (composed by Megan McDuffee of River City Girls fame), there was a lot keeping me glued. I kept learning new strategies and techniques in each run that made me want to try again immediately.
Climbing the leaderboards
The PR person for Atari figured it would take me 2 hours to get deep enough into Quantum: Recharged to form a review. However, I wound up playing quite a while after it. I ended up chasing the high score on the sparsely populated pre-release leaderboards. Right now, I’m kind of itching to check if anyone has topped my record in the hours since the release day.
Quantum: Recharged didn’t set my world on fire, nor do I think it was really expected to. It’s a revival of an old formula intended to sit alongside the rest of the Recharged series. If you’ve already been following the series, you probably already know you’ll enjoy it. Otherwise, you can skip over it and not really miss much, but it’s definitely worth trying out. You might find yourself getting sucked in, at least for a little while.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]