All of a sudden, we’re nine games into the Atari Recharged series, with Quantum: Recharged being the latest addition to this Atari resurgence. After the highs of such recharges like Caverns of Mars, Gravitar and Yars, is Quantum going to continue that trend?
Unlike some of the other space-age games in the Recharged series, Quantum: Recharged does things a bit differently. There are no guns for a start. Instead, your ship is as nippy as a cold winter’s day and can fly around the screen very quickly. With this speed, you need to form circles on the screen using the trail left behind where you move. Once a circle is complete, this becomes a deadzone and sucks in any enemy ship that dares pass near it.
The screen you fly around isn’t the largest, and I was immediately reminded of Geometry Wars as it can quickly get cramped in there, even with only a medium number of enemies. You do have a boost bar that can be used to either speed away from enemies or close up a circle before your trail disappears.
Enemy ships come in a surprisingly varied range. There are those that will hunt you down, others that float around the screen bouncing off the edges like the old DVD logo screensaver, some that will actively avoid your deadzones and others that will fly in a line, either horizontally or vertically. They don’t necessarily each require their own tactic to defeat them; with the large number quickly spawning on screen it’s difficult to formulate individual methods for dispatching them anyways.
Anyone who has played a Recharged game will know by now what to expect. There is an Arcade mode, which in Quantum’s case is an endless mode. It can take a few attempts to grasp the concept but once you do, it can get quite addictive. If a little repetitive.
This comes with the usual modifiers to make it easier or harder depending on your choosing, in turn affecting your final score that posts on the leaderboard. Scoring well really is down to whether you can keep a combo going. Each enemy ship removed from the screen will help keep a combo timer going. Down enough without being hit and you can get it to a 10x multiplier, and your score will tick over almost as quickly as the ship you are piloting.
You may also notice the intensity of the music increasing as your multiplier increases too. And then you hit another ship, the tempo drops, your multiplier and your mood do too. Fewer things are more disappointing in Quantum: Recharged.
Power-ups will also periodically drop to assist you. Or rather, they would if they were any good. Useful ones like a shield and extra life are mixed in with less useful ones such as a shock which freezes enemies in place and overcharge which grants temporary unlimited use of your dodge ability. The usefulness of these is negated due to the small playing field and large number of enemies; your ship is far too nippy to effectively weave between shocked enemies to create deadzones and careless dodging is a recipe for an early end to a run.
As usual, there is also a Challenge mode for you to take on, with increasingly difficult challenges based on the Quantum fundamentals. But with little wiggle room to deviate from the basics, the challenges on offer are very disappointing this time around.
In fact, they barely get past having to destroy all enemies. You might get to destroy all enemies in X amount of seconds, or score X amount of points before all enemies are destroyed, but really, that’s it.
Compared with the likes of Breakout: Recharged, Quantum’s challenge mode comes off as minimal at best. It is crying out for something a bit different; various shaped areas, quicker disappearing deadzones, shorter trails or just, something. Aside from the different waves of enemies you will face, these challenges quickly dissolve into the same thing each time.
Both arcade and challenges can once again be played in co-op mode. You can also revive a co-op teammate by picking up another extra life power-up but with so much going on at once, this is harder than it sounds.
Quantum: Recharged feels like a disappointing callback to some of the earlier Recharged games. It is a one-trick pony in terms of its basic premise, leaving little room to modify in a modern remake, and it really shows here. Chasing high scores in Arcade mode can be fun, for a short period. And there is nothing within Challenge mode to actually ‘challenge’ anything other than your patience as you complete carbon copy tests. Normally, these offer something different to the Arcade mode, but with Quantum: Recharged, it is only really the Arcade mode that will keep you playing.
And even then, it’ll be in very short doses.