Quadrun is an Atari 2600 action/shooter hybrid developed and published by Atari
. The game was programmed by Steve Woita. Quadrun's ramshackle story is that the Captors
have imprisoned the Runts
in the land of Quad and you are there to save them. The core gameplay revolves around moving your ship between the four sectors in the game and firing at various Captors incoming from the center of the screen, which represents a prison.
Quadrun's main gimmick is that the player is forced to "catch" their projectile, a Phaser Ball, from the sector on the other side of the screen if they miss a shot. Captors attack in five waves, each with their own "personality" or movement pattern, and each wave introducing a new type of Captor. Movement is instant going across the screen (Either top/botton or left/right) but non-lateral movement forces to player to move to the edge of their current sector to reach the next one. Captors only attack from the vertical sectors and after each enemy is destroyed a Runt escapes into the horizontal sector. The player must catch the Runt before it reaches the edge of the screen and is killed by the electrified toaster grid. The player begins with 3 phaser balls and loses one if they fail to catch a fired ball or they are destroyed by a Captor, and once all the balls are exhausted, the game ends. The game also features a Critter Counter
at the top, represented by a small white bar, which shrinks every time a Runt dies or a Captor isn't destroyed. When the counter is depleted, the game ends. Should the player survive five waves, the sixth and final wave is the Crazed Wave
, in which any of the five types of enemies may attack, the Critter Counter is filled up, and the player recieves a large bonus for any leftover phaser balls.
Quadrun is one of only two non-homebrew Atari 2600 games to feature voice synthesis (Open Sesame being the other) and is the first 2600 game to use it. Each wave is preceded by a voice synthesized "Quadrun! Quadrun! Quadrun!" The programmers managed to compress the voice to a mere 700 bytes and since the voice synthesis uses all the Atari 2600's available memory, the screen is blank while the voice is heard. The voice gets faster and higher pitched as the waves progress. Due do huge memory limitations, this was the greatest effect the programmers could pull on the voice. Besides the voice synthesis, Quadrun is notable for it's use of recklessly piercing sound effects. Even for the game's time and the 2600's limited sound capabilities the sound effects are jarring and unpleasant.
- Goons - 10
- Snags - 50
- Yo-Yos - 200
- Nods - 500
- Brats - 1000
- Every 5th Captor destroyed - 1000
- Each completed wave - 1000
- Each saved Runt - 100
- 1 Phaser ball at end of Crazed Wave - 2500
- 2 Phaser balls at end of Crazed Wave - 5000
- 3 Phaser balls at end of Crazed Wave - 10000
Quadrun is widely recognized for its low availability and high price tag. It is widely sought after by collectors. The game's low distribution is due to mishandled playtesting procedures. The game was tested by a small group of young girls who complained about the high level of difficulty, and it's lack of resemblance to Ms. Pac-Man. Atari believed the game would flop due to this and produced a mere 10,000 copies of the game, only available through Atari Fan Club mail order. It was never available for purchase at retail stores. The game is now available on PS2/Xbox in Atari Anthology
, on PC in Atari: 80 Classic Games in One!
, and in the standalone console Atari Flashback 2.