Quantum: Recharged is a arcade action dodging game from Atari that continues their impressively comprehensive fifty year anniversary celebrations by resurrecting yet another one of their old IPs and giving it a fresh coat of paint for modern audiences courtesy of developer SneakyBox.
The original Quantum was released in 1982 and isn’t exactly one of Atari’s best known or remembered titles but it’s worth talking about first just to get some context for this release. In that game you controlled a small ship that had to circle enemies in order to destroy them. Think Qix but without the straight lines. The game was set in a quantum realm (ie; everything is meant to be microscopically tiny) and was controlled with a trackball much like Asteroids and Centipede.
Now, we here at PlayStation Country pretty much grew up in arcades and have played around with MAME for decades now but we didn’t remember this game at all. We don’t remember seeing it on Atari’s excellent 50 year anniversary collection either. But here we are playing a modern update in 2023 and from the outset it feels much like any of the other Recharged games with a sharp, modern, updated look but still a little bit dry and stilted.
The core gameplay remains much the same. Enemies float around the screen either moving randomly, attacking you from a distant static position or hunting you down and you’ve got to get in close enough to circle them. Complete the loop and it’ll become a death zone for any enemies already in it or if they move into the area before it dissipates. These areas only last a few seconds and have a limited size as your ‘tail’ will only allow you to create quite small zones.
That’s pretty much it, indeed the in-game tutorial literally lasts a couple of seconds. Aside from R2 being mapped to a short-lived speed up, that’s it for the controls. So once you’ve gotten to grips with that your only choice is what mode to play. The ‘Arcade’ mode is arguably the best choice as it just offers up a some simple score-chasing which harks back to the classic arcade era that the original game came from. It’s all pretty straightforward with new enemies being introduced over time and a handful of power-ups made available which offer differing degrees of help such as freezing the enemies or healing you.
The other mode ‘Mission’ offers a series of missions that generally just involve clearing a level within a time limit. And while there’s some fun to be had, eventually these time limits end up being the biggest stumbling block and that’s really because the game just doesn’t suit having them. The random movement of the enemies means that sometimes it’ll take multiple attempts to take them down because in the time it takes to circle an enemy safely, it will most likely be out of the area you create. Indeed we found ourselves trying to create long ‘walls’ rather than loops a lot of the time in an effort to trick enemies into crashing into them.
To be honest, that’s really our main issue with Quantum: Recharged. The core gameplay mechanic just doesn’t really work all that well for us. It’s not got the risk vs. reward aspect of Qix and it’s just not an effective tool for snaring most of the enemies. Add to that a time limit and it ends up just being kind of frustrating. We soon abandoned ‘Mission’ mode altogether but we did find the ‘Arcade’ mode’s score-chasing to be the better option anyway.
Add to all that the standard dry modern Atari presentation and this game fails to truly impress. The visuals are certainly clean enough, mainly due to their simplicity, and the soundtrack is actually reasonably good but there’s nothing here that’s going to wow you.
But, as with most of the games in the Recharged series, this could well have appeal for old-school Atari fans. It’s certainly no worse than the original game and it does provide some degree of fun but it may be one for an older, American audience rather than a game that will win over many new players. And beyond that, there’s not much else to say about Quantum: Recharged because there really isn’t all that much to it.
+ Clean visuals and decent music
- Very one-dimensional
- The core gameplay mechanic isn't all that interesting