Game Design Essentials: 20 Atari Games
May 30, 2008 Page 8 of 23
Developed by General Computer Corporation
Quantum, one of Atari's more obscure titles, has one of those game ideas that seems to float around the game industry, popping up randomly in various places, even though it's unlikely each use was influenced by prior art.
The recent DS game Pokemon Ranger, for example, has play that ultimately can be traced back here, and aspects of it can even be found in Sonic Team's Nights Into Dreams. But Quantum is obscure enough that it's probably not due to a conscious effort to steal -- the idea just seems to suggest gameplay.
In Quantum-style games, the player has a cursor that leaves a trail behind it of limited length. Depending on the game, the trail is controlled with a trackball, joystick, analog stick or stylus. Various enemies litter the screen, moving slowly.
The player's task is to surround them with the trail, making a complete loop and clearing them from the board. Some enemies try to foil the player by attacking the trail, others the cursor. Capturing more enemies with a single loop is worth bonus points. That, by and large, is Quantum.
The control scheme tends to matter a lot to games of this type. This one is controlled with a trackball, and like Marble Madness, the control method is not merely an aesthetic choice here.
The speed of the ball, combined with the skill needed to manipulate it rapidly, make a big difference to the experience. Arguably, if you aren't playing Quantum with a trackball, you aren't really playing it.
It should be noted that while Atari published this game, its developers did not design it. It was produced by General Computer Corporation, who also made the better-known Atari game Food Fight.
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