Format reviewed: Commodore 64
Publisher: Thalamus Publishing
Developer: Stavros Fasoulas
Despite being bestowed with numerous awards when released – including a Zzap! Sizzler, a C&VG Hit and a Commodore User Screen Star – Quedex is today a largely forgotten minor classic from the C64’s vast gaming catalogue. Only in light of modern-day videogaming is it clear how prescient the 8-bit Thalamus title was.
Fresh from shoot-’em-up hits Sanxion and Delta, Finnish programmer Stavros Fasoulas served up something decidedly different for his third title. Quedex – or The Quest For Ultimate Dexterity, to give the game its full title – tasks you with steering a metal ball around ten levels in a race against the clock. (Oddly, US licensee Epyx replaced the metallic ball with a Magic 8-Ball in one of the conversions, and a squidgy rolling eyeball in the 16-bit releases dubbed Mindroll, although the core gameplay remained unchanged.)
What sets Quedex apart and makes it perhaps more relevant today than it was in the 1980s is its quick-fire mini-game format: one minute, you’re careering downhill in a manic slalom, trying to avoid time-sapping electrified columns; the next you’re traversing a maze, grabbing keys and avoiding skulls, feverishly searching for the ‘goal’ to complete the plane and earn a much-needed time bonus. Elsewhere, your spheroid avatar is sucked through tubes, dropped into a tile-switching game, faced with elevated platforms, flung through teleporters and tasked with finding the single route through a maze with collapsing floors.
The ability to switch levels at will, the pace of the game (with the clock ever ticking downwards) and the sheer challenge of it mean that Quedex today comes across like a mix of Marble Madness and WarioWare, with the occasional nod to Gauntlet and Trailblazer. Reactions and reflexes are of paramount importance, as are quick thinking and a strong memory. And so if you’re the kind of person who completes a Super Mario game without blinking, try Quedex and see if you really do possess ultimate dexterity.