Batalyx is a game divided into six parts. The first five are 'subgames' that contribute to your score, while the last is a pause screen where the player can relax and manipulate color with a moving cursor. The player can switch between these six parts at any time they wish with the press of a button (1-6 on the keyboard). If a player leaves one subgame to go to another, the state of play is suspended in the subgame they are leaving. This means that if a player returns to any subgame, the game continues from the precise point that they left. This creates a certain amount of freedom when deciding how to tackle the game as a whole.
The player can try to complete all five subgames in any order they wish, changing subgames at will. Alternatively, the player can choose to tackle only one of the subgames, attempting to get as high a score as they can within it. Either way, there is a time limit to the game as a whole, represented as a horizontal bar of color near the bottom of the screen.
The importance of the timer is twofold. Firstly (and most obviously) once time is up the game is over and the title screen reappears. Secondly, the longer the timer bar is the gentler a subgame's difficulty level. Therefore, if a player wishes to complete a subgame they are less skilled at, it is in their best interest to attempt this first. Of course, the subgame does not even have to be played at all should the player not want to.
The player, an orb, has to shoot any enemies that appear onscreen. To shoot, the joystick is pushed in the direction the player wants to fire. This seems simple enough but the laws of physics cause the player's ship to move in the other direction to that which they are firing. Hence, to maneuver the orb and dodge enemies, the player has shoot (and push the joystick) in the opposite direction to the one they want to move.
This is a two-way horizontally scrolling shooter. It is an update to Minter's Attack of the Mutant Camels, and gameplay is similar to The Empire Strikes Back for Atari 2600. The player flies their craft left and right in a attempt to stop a preset number of giant camels from marching to the right hand side of each level. Each camel is stopped by bombarding it with bullets, with the camel changing colour numerous times to indicate how close to death it is.
The Activation of Iridis Base
This subgame is shown as if the player was riding on the back of a (presumably mutant) camel towards a large pyramid. This is unimportant to the gameplay, however, with the actual game predominantly being played by watching the small 3x3 square on the left of screen. Within this square, the central segment represents the fire button on the player's joystick, and the remaining 8 are the relative joystick positions. With this in mind, the player has to push the joystick to the position indicated by the corresponding flashing square. There is only a small moment to react and perform the movement, and failure means the player has to start the 100-move sequence from the beginning. While it all sounds very complicated, it basically boils down to a reaction test in the same vein as Dragon's Lair, albeit without the pretty face.
Cippy on the Run
Here the player takes control of Cippy, the horned bipedal star of Minter's Ancipital. The object is to completely change the floor and ceiling of a grey corridor into rainbow-coloured surfaces, simply by walking or running over each section. Spheres will appear and, while they can't directly attack Cippy, they can change the properties of floor/ceiling sections by touching them. This will impede Cippy's progress through the corridor in a number of ways, from flipping the gravity to teleporting our hero to another part of the level. Luckily, Cippy has a constant stream of projectiles pouring out of him, and they can be controlled mid-air by the direction he is facing.
The objective here is to get all onscreen spheres to stand still. When play starts, the sphere(s) will be moving over a colourful 8x5 grid of squares. Each sphere has its own trajectory and speed, and the player has to use the movement of each colored square to counteract the sphere's movement. When the player changes the movement of a square, all similarly-coloured squares will perform in the same manner. This becomes a necessary evil when trying to get multiple spheres to remain static - while the player attempts to stop one sphere by moving a particular square, a similarly-coloured square may cause aberrant behavior in another sphere, and may even cause it to start moving where a player had previously managed to make it stop. Once all spheres have been halted, the next level appears with a new pattern of colored squares to manipulate.
The sixth and final subgame in Batalyx is an interactive pause mode, where they player can take a break from playing with a simple color generating routine. There are a few variables that can be tweaked to create different effects. While in this mode, the game's timer will stop. According to the design notes, Minter included this portion of the game because "it's more interesting than freezing the screen."
Jeff Minter wrote Batalyx in approximately four months, with a lot of the early design work being "done on a bus in Athens", according to Minter's notes in the instructions. The game was developed using Merlin on an Apple ][e hooked up to a Commodore 64.