|Steve Woita (Programmer & Voice) and Frank Hausman
|One of only two 2600 games
to feature speech.
Quadrun is an action/thinking game where you must shoot different kinds
of enemies while moving around a four-chambered room. The tricky
part is that you must catch your energy ball again once you shoot it.
Each enemy has their own unique personality and you must employ
a different strategy to defeat them. Quadrun is an interesting game
that should have seen a wider distribution.
Quadrun was only available through the Atari Fan Club for a short time
making it the rarest Atari release for the 2600. According to programmer
Steve Woita, Quadrun was playtested by a group of young girls who hated
it because it wasn't anything like Ms. Pac-Man. Based on this Atari
decided to only produce 10,000 carts thinking it would flop. You've
got to start wondering what Atari's marketing department was smoking?
Each of Quadrun's enemies have a unique attack pattern which the player
must counter accordingly.
||Goons are the first enemy you'll run into. They're
pretty mindless and will simply move in a straight line.
||Snags are really nasty creatures. They move
like Goons, but their middle disappears and reappears. Watch
out that you don't end up shooting an energy ball right through
the middle of thin air.
||Yo-Yo's move just like their name suggests. They
move forward and then quickly move back. The trick to killing
Yo-Yos is to get behind them and shoot before they snap back. Unlike
other enemies, Yo-Yo's won't move all the way across the screen.
||Nods are pretty harmless for such a high level
enemy. They move like Goons but quickly charge forward with
||Brats are as nasty has their names suggest. Brats
move is a weaving pattern back and forth across the screen. Hitting
Brats takes careful timing.
||Runts are cute little harmless guys who like to
commit suicide by running into the sides of the screen. When
a Runt escapes from the center of the screen make sure you grab
it before it's too late.
Quadrun's most interesting feature is its speech. That's
right, voice synthesis! Due to the limitations of the 2600 the speech
is limited to the phrase "Quadrun! Quadrun! Quadrun!" which
is said at the start of each round. Every round the voice gets faster
and talks at a higher pitch until it's almost unintelligable. According
Steve getting the voice into such a small cartridge was really difficult:
"I think some audio guy from the outside was trying to sell us some
sort of audio tool that we didn't buy and I guess that may've got
me to thinking about putting voice in the game so Frank Hausman had
some weird tools that he and I worked on to do the audio compression.
I did some weird 6502 tricks to pull off the voice... We got
my voice data down to 700 or so bytes and then I would just pitch
bend my voice more and more as you progressed through the game"
Also the screen had to blank when the voice was
talking because it used up all the available memory. It's a shame
other programmers didn't try speech in their games; it really makes Quadrun
Quadrun is a great game, but it isn't for everyone.
The high difficulty level may drive many causal gamers off, but
the challenge is one of the things that makes Quadrun so endearing. Quadrun
is one of the most unique games in the 2600 library, but unfortunately
is often overlooked due its high rarity. However Quadrun is one
of the few rare games that's worth the high price...
||Test Obj. 12-6
||Early version, no voice
to 2600 Software