Originally released for the Game Boy in 1990, Konami's Quarth takes the presentation of a Space Invaders-type shooter, and instead gives us a puzzle game. As tempting as it might be to enter these stages with guns blazing, what Quarth actually requires is a healthy amount of foresight and on-the-fly problem solving. It's not without its faults, but it's a fun enough experience while it lasts.
You control one of six ships — the choice is yours — but it's really just a glorified cursor; the only difference between them is aesthetic. You're confined to the bottom of the screen, and you fire small blocks upward at approaching shapes. The blocks you fire adhere to those shapes, and when you form a square or rectangle, the shape disappears and you earn points depending upon its size.
It's actually an experience that's quite similar to Art Style: PiCTOBiTS, and fans of that game will be able to grasp Quarth that much more quickly. The main difference, of course, being that the blocks are launched from upward, rather than placed directly on the screen.
That's pretty much it. Quarth is pretty straightforward: your goal is always to clear as many shapes as possible, as quickly as possible. You can choose to play a level-based games or a randomised game, but the only differences are just as you'd expect: level-based games feature the same shapes every time, and randomised games are both unpredictable and endless.
If you clear large enough shapes, you earn power ups. These can speed up your shots, clear the board, or produce a random effect, so they're nice to have in reserve. It's not a very deep experience, but it doesn't aspire to be. It would have been nice to have some variation in the attributes of the ships, or even a substantially different additional mode of play, though, because the game gets dull pretty quickly.
Our main issues with the game are nothing surprising: the deactivated two player mode is the standard kick in the pants from the 3DS Virtual Console, and the fact that the cleared blocks can still end your game if they scroll down too far before they disappear is a pretty low blow, but overall what works most against Quarth is its own simplicity.
It doesn't have the universal addictiveness of Tetris or the ever-evolving urgent strategy of QIX, which makes it pretty tough to recommend. Those who do enjoy it will no doubt be glad to have it with them on the go, but unless you're absolutely dying for another puzzler on your 3DS, it wouldn't do you much harm to let this one fly past you.
Quarth has its share of issues to be sure, but it's certainly good for short bursts of puzzle-oriented fun. Repetitive gameplay and a missing two player mode hold this one back from being a solid recommendation, but for a time-killing Virtual Console title, you could do worse. Its simplicity is either its biggest problem or its main selling point, and that's something you may have to decide for yourself.