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Video Game / Quadrax

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In the middle top, you can (maybe) see your characters. The door on the top right is the exit. This is one of the simpler levels, by the way.

Player Character: Well gentlemen, that's a solid mumbo-jumbo. What should we do with it all?
— Beginning of Quadrax Neverending

Quadrax is a cooperative Puzzle Game series featuring some platforming elements. The main objective is to get every person under your control, which can range from one to three, into the exit and, if they are present, to collect all crystals there. The player has to achieve this by cooperation between the persons and using elements present within the game, such as elevators, tunnels, but most importantly, a wide array of different stone blocks (in czech language, the word for 'stone block' is 'kvádr', pronounced similarly to 'quadr', hence the name of the game).

The origin of the game can be traced back to 1995, when Slovak company Cauldron created the first game in the series, Quadrax. The game featured two adventurers looking up for their colleagues within the temple of the sun. Its main objective was to get them into the exit using stone blocks and various machinery, with hundred levels standing against the player. The game was then inspiration for freeware project by Alfaline, which, after some Development Hell, was released under the title Quadrax III (the second game titled Return to Quadrax was scrapped during said hell). The current line-up includes:


  • Quadrax: The original game created by Cauldron. Takes place in a temple randomly appearing in Egypt. It is now available as abandonware here. You may need DOS emulators such as DO Sbox here.
  • Quadrax III: The spiritual successor to Quadrax, created by Alfaline, which also applies to next games. Has been revised in 2005, including fifteen new levels and better graphics. Features two new heroes, the player's avatar and his best friend, Andy.
  • Quadrax IV: Returns in Egypt to find out what happened to the heroes from the first game. Lightens up a difficulty a bit by introducing hint scrolls.
  • Quadrax V: Introduces new character, Rudy, named in homage to the person first finishing previous installment, Rudy Versele, raising the number of controllable characters to three, thus ramping up the difficulty. This time the story turns around the Mayan pyramids.
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  • Quadrax VI: Concentrates on searching for legendary Atlantis. Introduces diamonds (later crystals) as compulsory collectible.
  • Quadrax VII: Takes place on various places around the world with the climax taking place on Laputa, the legendary floating island, which is also apparent source of aforementioned diamonds/crystals.
  • Quadrax VIII: Takes place almost everywhere again, including In Space! and on other planet, before returning to Laputa again.
  • Quadrax X: The next sequel, due to Quadrax IX being cancelled again because of an old engine. Quadrax X features new engine and takes place in an active volcano and After the End, among other things. Also has an editor which allows you to create your own puzzles as stand-alone application.
  • Quadrax Neverending: The latest installment which is expanded by new episodes from time to time. It is based on improved engine from Quadrax X and puts it to good use. Also introduces anti-gravity blocks and wooden crates in underwater levels for those who think the game isn't hard enough already.

The list of game sites from III onward is available here along with level editor for X (and Neverending by extension). Please note that due to difficulty of later games, it is better to start by III or IV to preserve your own sanity and your computer.

Please do not post any hints or solutions for given particular level, not even in spoiler tag! Since solving the puzzle is the entire point of the game, what would be the interest of playing it by walkthrough anyway?

Quadrax series contains examples of:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: No one expects anyone to be able to push 8 cubic meters of rock or the person to move at a walking speed when a stone blocks threatens to fall on his head. But since here it is a core play mechanic with clearly defined rules, nobody cares.
  • Already Undone for You: Judging by the number of skeletons of less than successful heroes there it is quite convenient that the puzzle is left in solvable state. Justified and discussed since the levels are put there as a tests, the whoever entity that controls them has the interest to keep them in solvable state.
  • Behind the Black: Some diamonds/crystals are hidden behind the blocks or obstructed by foreground, but by all means the heroes should be able to see them.
  • Big Bad: First game has Sutech, but since then he was retconned into hallucination. The story suggests an existence of extra-terrestrial race that wipes out anyone failing the tests the temples represent, making them possibly this or Outside-Context Villain for the series.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In V, after crashing the plane on an abandoned island at the beginning of the game, the heroes are saved by Gusta, Rudy's friend once all puzzles are solved.
  • Blackout Basement:
    • X has downplayed version in third episode. The level takes place during night, however unlike in previous games this projects into color desaturation and reduced brightness of the level. That means that while you can see somewhat clearly all objects in night levels you can have trouble to distinguish the type of levers and switches and heroes.
    • Levels of sixth episode of the same game however play this straight. There are switches that turn off energy in the entirety of current stage, plunging it into total darkness (as in black screen). Due to only main character being equipped by a (weak) light, he's the only one that can see few steps around him.
    • First episode of Neverending has day-night shift and weather changes. The stages during night are about the same as in X. And God help you if you play the stage during the night AND the storm ...
  • Badass in Distress:
    • Everytime one of the heroes is trapped in some part of level and others have to help him get out, which is almost always. Their cooperation is necessary to reach the level's end.
    • Storywise, Rudy at the beginning of VII. The motivation for the entire adventure is to help him out of a cave which entrance is guarded by poison dart trap. Surely enough at the end of first episode, this is the puzzle you have to solve.
  • Bottomless Pits: Until X they weren't possible due to game engine, even if they looked bottomless. They start to appear only with Neverending.
  • Block Puzzle: The main point of the game.
  • Cliffhanger: What VII and VIII ends with. Also the episode 3 of Neverending contains two quite literal examples.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Different levers and switches have different colors from IV onward - red levers/white switches is classic unrestricted version, blue can be used only once, green only twice, and gold switches turn back after some time. Note that I and III have one-time-only version, but it is red instead. The characters player uses are also only distinguished by color.
  • Convection Schmonvection:
    • The heroes can stand next to a flame and suffer no ill effects until they walk directly into it. In X, they can even push what is a block of semi-solidified lava.
    • Extreme cold doesn't seem to bother them either, as levels in Antarctica can attest, though this is explained in story.
  • Conveyor Belt of Doom: Subverted since it will stop once hero steps on it. Played straight if it is menacing to drop a block on his head.
  • Crate Expectations: Well, stone block expectations. They come in different numbers and flavors in each level and game.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: Good luck playing other levels after the episode 4 where Falling Damage does not apply.
  • Death Course: Some levels or their parts. Example: The beginning of level 12 in I.
  • Difficulty Spike: Many, usually after introduction of some new element. Special mention goes to the wooden boxes in Neverending thanks to which the difficulty goes right through the roof.
  • Dungeon Bypass: Sometimes possible due to oversight on tester's part. However, sometimes the level only seems to have a certain solution, but when you attempt that you'll find out you're one block short on it or there is one final switch that prevents you from finishing the level. The real solution has some gimmick instead and allows you to bypass most of the level.
  • Energy Weapon: The laser guns from VIII and later work just like faster version of poison dart traps, shooting a laser projectiles instead.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Yeah, most of things that you can and need to use can also wipe you out. Stone blocks falling on your head, that lever opening the trapdoor under you resulting in you falling to your doom, electric gates, laser guns and so on... On the other hand, elevators won't squish you, which comes handy quite often ...
  • Falling Damage: Any fall from higher than 1.5 times the height of stone block will lead to death of a hero. Averted in episode 4 and 5 of Neverending, since it takes place underwater.
  • Floating Platforms: Many, and you can sometimes place your own by using Levitating blocks.
  • Force-Field Door: A variation, which blocks the passage in one direction only and only for the heroes.
  • Frictionless Ice: Later games have blocks that are made from such ice/metal/lava. They won't stop until they fall from current floor or are stopped by an obstacle or conveyor belt going in opposite direction. Also applies to levitating blocks barring, obviously, the falling part.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Starting from III, most of elements in the game are actually explained in-story (albeit sometimes only in a handwave-y manner), such as levitating blocks, the presence of diamonds/crystals, or why the hell there are hidden labyrinths in an Abandoned Mine in the first place.
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: Diamonds/Crystals from VI onward. You can't leave level until you get them all. Quite unfortunate if the crystal is stacked in some not exactly accessible place, which is more often than not.
  • Gravity Screw:
    • Neverending introduces stone blocks that fall up. At least this is explained in story beyond basic 'screw you'.
    • The episode 4 of the same game introduces wooden crates in last few levels. These have the same property that wooden blocks have (you can push two of them at once), but since this episode takes place underwater, the boxes actually float like previously mentioned blocks do. They stick around for the next episode, much to the players' chagrin.
  • Happy Ending Override: Courtesy of the sequels being made by new developer. The first game ended with the surviving hero becoming basically a God while the Big Bad of game, Sutech, was destroyed. Come Quadrax IV, and new duo of heroes finds his remains, explaining that becoming a God and Sutech part were the result of hallucinations due to food and water deprivation.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Neverending and Ice Caverns have replaced poison dart traps/laser guns with traps that shoot icicles, with this trope being the result if the trap is sprung on heroes.
  • It Only Works Once/Twice: Blue levers/white switches (once) and green levers/switches (twice) in IV and later. Note that the 'once only' version is also present in I and III, but is colored as red.
  • Kill It with Fire: You can become victim of this if you run into the flames on the ground.
  • Luck-Based Mission: Averted with very few exceptions, like level 7 in Neverending, and even then the hint scroll warns you that is a good idea to save your game before.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Well, as of the latest games, the characters can die by falling from too much height, having block dropped on them, being shot by poison dart or laser, being incinerated, shocked, teleported into block...
  • Malevolent Architecture: Like you wouldn't believe. Chasms impossible to cross unless bridge from stone blocks is built? Check. Switches that make level Unwinnable or outright kill the characters? Check. Simpler routes to crystals or exit that have a switch which you must trigger and which make further progress impossible? Check and mate. Justified though because the places are meant to test the heroes' skill.
  • Marathon Level: quite a few:
    • Quadrax IV has 'Anubis', level 44. Quite fitting to have a name after Egyptian God of Afterlife. Level 89 would be this, were not for considerable shortcut. Its fixed version appears in next sequel as level 69 however, where it definitely is this.
    • Quadrax V also has level 58, which can take almost half an hour to finish, but expect taking much more time there to actually find that solution.
    • Quadrax VII and level 73 being the most memorable. Some other levels may count too.
    • Half of episode taking place inside pyramids from Quadrax Neverending is like this. The level 20 is the worst of bunch, and the longest level to date. Levels 28 and 35 from the same game too.
  • The Maze: The point of some levels. Most games also have a level with truckload of tunnels at some point, with the objective of finding the correct sequence to get to the exit (or three because of Temporary Platform). Have pen and paper ready.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Some levels have names such as 'Purgatory' or 'Crane Opener'. Needless to say, you won't get out easily from those ones.
  • No Fair Cheating: III to V have randomly generated sets of passwords to prevent some players from distributing the passwords to the others. Trying to brute force them? Tough luck, the game won't allow you to access a level even with correct password as long as the previous level's finishing time is zero, ie; it was never finished.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Some levels, on the other hand, may have not-so-intimidating name but are absolutely hellish. 'Miniature Problem' from episode 4 of Neverending would be one.
  • Not the Intended Use: Some levels have alternate easier solutions due to rather original use of the elements present there which weren't found by testers. However, the fact that the solution is easier doesn't always mean it's easy.
  • Nintendo Hard: Invoked in later iterations. Think I Wanna Be the Guy but Puzzle Game. Hell, both even have objects that fall up. And due to levels being fixed, thus leaving out random factor, it is not luck based fare.
  • Oddly Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Actually pretty normal with three exceptions:
    • Quadrax III was developed by other and current developer. The absence of Quadrax II, or Return to Quadrax under working title, was because the idea was scrapped, and III was only developed at a later date with the game having different aspects.
    • Quadrax IX was again cancelled because of old engine, but its remains were used to create Quadrax X.
    • Instead of Quadrax XI, we got Quadrax Neverending. This is because it breaks tradition by having its episodes periodically released after they are finished and the number of levels can go beyond 100.
  • One-Hit Point Wonder: Anything that does damage to heroes kills them outright, even poison darts. You need to have all of them alive at the end of the level.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: The game itself of course, but it is implied that any civilization that doesn't complete the temples of test gets wiped out by some extra-terrestrial force, effectively changing this to Only Smart People May Live..
  • Power Floats: Crystals themselves and nearby environment as well if the crystals are heated. Exemplified by levitation blocks.
  • Press X to Die: Sometimes, you have a lever that either frees a block that falls directly on your head, or instead opens a hatch that drops you to your doom. Frequently this is required to do so, so you must move away quickly, or activate some other device beforehand that will protect you.
  • Remixed Level:
    • Sometimes if level presents way easier solution, it will appear in the sequel with corresponding patch. An example would be level 69 in V, which is extended and fixed level 89 from previous game.
    • Every game between III and X includes a typical sequence featuring three stone blocks and several platforms, which is even called by author as 'Building Block' in one moment, and solving it is basic knowledge to advance through levels.
    • In V, level 58 is the synthesis of two previous ones.
    • In VI, levels 81 and 82 are the same save for one slight but critical detail.
    • In X, one half of level 75 is the same as in 37 except, again, one detail.
    • In Neverending there are two exactly same levels differing by two blocks and one switch.
    • The 7th episode of Neverending are the levels from first game, with few corrections to prevent unplanned solutions.
  • Retcon:
    • The ending of I gets retconned in IV. Or, better to say, explained from different perspective.
    • The entirety of VII at its end. The characters, after giving wrong answer to some unknown entity, get transported in time at the beginning of their adventure, undoing the integrity of the game, though they still retain their memories.
  • Ridiculously Difficult Route: Most of the time the easy way is not an option because of that damn switch that activates some kind of trap or closes an exit.
  • Save-Game Limits: You can't save at all in I and III while being in level, meaning screwing up means restart from its beginning. IV was the same, but later the patch allowing to save once per level was released. VI introduced expansion save-slots that had to be picked up in level and allowed to save additional times, one time more per pick-up (rewriting the same save). X introduced four save-slots, with the possibility of saving up to four times for given track (meaning if you saved in first slot, then second, then loaded the first save, you could save in the second slot again). Up to VI, the progress between levels was done via password system, which got then replaced by account system. Also, note that it is possible to save in an Unwinnable state.
  • Schmuck Bait: Some switches and levers do nothing and only exist to distract you and pull you in an unwinnable situation. Others trigger some harmful action. Also, you can be sure that if there is an obviously easy path to the crystal you need to get and there is a button on the ground, you can be sure that the button will kill you or block an exit.
  • Screen Shake: Two last episodes of X to simulate an earthquake due to taking place near/in an active volcano.
  • Shout-Out: Many, notably to 'Castle in the Sky from which inspires the idea around levitating crystals.
  • Shown Their Work: Many locations show the corresponding artifacts or elements for which the given location is famous. The best examples, however, are the Titanic levels in Neverending where the engine models player can see are based on real ones, and the Nevada desert just after, that shows pictures from real national park Archen in the level of the same name.
  • Super Not-Drowning Skills:
    • Atlantis in VI, where thirty levels take place underwater, yet characters don't have any sort of breathing apparatus. Neverending gets on this too with fourth and fifth episode.
    • In Neverending, the fourth episode takes place in underwater ruins and the next one in 'Titanic'.
  • Tele-Frag:
    • First game had teleports that allowed the adventurers to teleport between them. If the exit teleport was blocked by a stone block, the character would be teleported into it and die for an instant restart. Next installments replaced them by tunnels (character wouldn't simply pass through) until VIII, which reintroduced teleports again, with this being the only difference between them and tunnels. Also, from X onward, if a block is teleported and the character is in the exit portal, he'll get killed too.
    • The games however don't allow telefragging between objects, meaning a block won't teleport if there is already another in destination. Same applies if there is an elevator, door etc. already. You will need to exploit this a lot to advance.
  • Temporary Platform:
    • Unstable ground, which comes in three flavors. Note that these cannot be returned to their original state:
      • The classic one present throughout the series will break when a hero passes over or underneath it. In I the vertical range of effect was unlimited as long as there was free space between the character and the ground. From III onward, the hero has to pass directly under it. It is unaffected by stone blocks meaning you can push them on it and nothing won't happen, which is especially useful with ice blocks.
      • The second one will, in addition to previous, break when a stone block falls on it. This type appears only from X onward.
      • The third one, on the other hand, will break only when a stone block falls directly on it. Note that it won't break if the block doesn't fall on it with its entire side.
    • Also some platforms or bridges that can be retracted away.
  • Timed Mission: VI made some puzzles this by introduction of timed switches and levers. Sometimes the puzzle is to arrange elements in such a way that you can make it from the switch to the element it controls in time.
  • Time Trial: You can compete with others for the shortest time one can pass through level. From VII the number of steps becomes the main criterium, though in case of their equal number the time is still decisive.
  • Video Game Settings: Too many to count, from Abandoned Mine to Floating Continent to After the End to Eternal Engine. Rule of thumb is each game contains at least one instance of Jungle Japes or similar forest-themed levels. Since VII and later isn't restricted to only one specific location, the variety of setting in those games is much bigger.
  • Unwinnable by Design: From QIV which actually allowed you to save the games qualify as Cruel example. While you can't lose the access to level you unlocked unless you erase the game or lose your password, the game will happily allow you to save in an unwinnable situation. Before X you could even rewrite your save after making a mistake, losing a ton of progress in given level (especially since multiple saves were given in only an especially long levels back then).
  • Year Outside, Hour Inside\Year Inside, Hour Outside: The temples of tests have some rather weird rules for their flow of time.

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