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Make Trax

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Released: 1981

Genre: Puzzle

Format reviewed: Arcade

Publisher: Williams

Developer: ADK

Sometimes it takes something new to get you into something old, and that’s exactly how I came to learn about Make Trax. The original game passed me by, no doubt due to having been released some five years before I was born, but I was drawn into it by the superb Neo Geo Pocket Color remake Crush Roller from 1999.

So here’s a maze game in which your goal is to paint over a road while avoiding some colourful enemies, and for a game introduced not long after Pac-Man it has some interesting and innovative ideas. For a start, the enemies are only vulnerable in certain areas – wherever you see a paint roller, you can use it to run over the baddies. What’s more, maze design is more complex with additional escape routes on all sides of the maze, and certain enemies will come out specifically to tread in your paint, requiring you to revisit previously-painted areas.

This all sounds a lot more complex and interesting than Pac-Man, yet Make Trax didn’t reach nearly the same level of success. If we were to speculate on the reason for that, we’d keep returning to the enemies – it seems much harder to gauge than in other maze games, with enemies relentlessly pursuing you at one moment and suddenly turning away the next. The enemies are also just as fast and mobile as you – they can go anywhere you can as quickly as you can. It’s much more difficult to strategise, and the overall result feels a bit less satisfying as a result.