Trax Review – HAL’s Forgotten Gameboy Game!

Trax is a game for the gameboy, released by HAL in 1991! Hope you enjoyed the video!

Trax plays like a lot of other top down shooting games of the time, but with a twist… or lack of twist.. The turret of your tank can only turn to the right by holding down the A button… Of course it was made like this due to the lack of a 2nd d-pad on the gameboy, but I love that they tried to come up with an in game explanation as to why this is!
*read excerpt from manaul.

You’d think that not being able to aim properly would really hinder your enjoyment of the game but I feel like they designed it quite well to accomodate the strange control scheme, it can be fun trying to spin the tank around while dodging bullets coming from behind while you line up your attack. It can be very frustrating if you accidentally turn too far though! …

Apart from this one gameplay quirk, its pretty much your standard shooting game, complete with a small selection of powerups, including:

Piercing Bullets – These bullets move slowly but pack a lot of punch! they also go through enemies and bosses unlike the other weapons.
The BIG BOY – This is a bomb weapon which explodes on impact, destroying everything within a limited area
Double Turrets – This one shoots two bullets simultaneously, one at the front and one at the bac. Making it a lot easier as you don’t have to rotate all the way to fire infant of you!
and finally – Tri- Bombs which fires three bullets at once, like the spread gun from Conta!

The game is very short, even in Gameboy terms. The whole game can be completed in about 15 to 20 minutes. Which isn’t realy a bad thing…
It might have been bad at the time, but these days I do enjoy a game I can finish pretty quickly! It’s also worth replaying to try and get a faster time or a better score! The world record currently stands at: 6mins 52 seconds!

The game is split into four different levels, each with one mini boss and a full size boss fight at the end.

The levels are as follows:
The Grass Land
Saboten Desert – Or Desert Base
Mountain Cave
Capitol City

Gameplay – 7/10

The graphics are all nice and clear, especially on the original gameboy’s bad screen. They don’t stand out nearly as much as some of HAL’s other gameboy games though. The highlight is definitely the boss fights, with big well animated sprites moving smoothly around the screen. They are quite impressive to look at. Unfortunatly the level designs them selves are not as impressive… There’s also quite a bit of slowdown which also inclused some sprite flicker when things get more hectic. Sadly the slowdown happens more often that i’d like and can hinder your enjoyment of the game. Overall though I do feel like the sprites are nice and the game does have some charm to it, especially with the bosses and the little cut scene at the end!

Graphics 6/10

Something else that might hinder your enjoyment of this title is the very repetitive soundtrack. I counted only five different tunes in the entire game *check this*. There’s one main level theme which repeats constantly. The boss fights have their own faster paced music, and the credits have their own catchy tune. It’s not the worst sound out of the gameboy, but if you’re expecting something like the same quality of the kirby’s dreamland soundtrack you’re going to be very disappointed!

Sound – 4/10

Final Thoughts
Overall, I found this game to be an intresting curiosity and a unique look into HAL’s history as a developer, but not really worth tracking down unless you have already played and completed their other gameboy games.

I give the game a final score of…
Overall score – 5.7/10

I would have loved to see the game have more levels, maybe to double it to 8 stages which seems to be the norm in 8-bit games at the time.
It would have been great if each stage had it’s out soundtrack to accompany it too.
Although the controls do take some getting used it, I wouldn’t change them as I feel like it’s what gives the game it’s character, instead I would add some more choices to the power up system. Maybe make it so that the weapons can be powered up several times instead of just once.
And finally, I would make the game a bit harder overall by increase the damage the enemies do.

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