Quick thanks to Ultra Powerful Pal of Gaming Hell HokutoNoShock for being a good sport and playing a bit of co-op / versus in Fightcade.
Also, we'll mostly just be using the Japanese name because, well, it's Quarth. Block Hole is a good pun but it's a bit silly.

It is almost the nineties and there is time for... Quarth?

Well, there's always time for Quarth here on Gaming Hell, no matter the era.

Konami's arcade output has always felt a little strange to me, to be honest, but none more so than in the late '80s. Something best summarised by this tweet by ohfivepro, games like Dark Adventure, Battlantis, Haunted Castle (especially Haunted Castle) and even the original arcade Contra just feel... Odd. Strange. Weridly unfinished-feeling in some cases. However, there's still a few standouts from this part o Konami's arcade history- I'm a big fan of City Bomber and Devastators in particular- and the one I want to focus on today is one I've got a big soft spot for, 1989's puzzle-shooter hybrid Quarth, released in international arcades as Block Hole. Before we get started though, let's take a quick look at some of the staff members responsible for this one, as just like Bucky O'Hare, this is one of those Konami games that might be better known for some of its staff going on to form beloved developer Treasure. As I first found out via Jeremy Parish's Game Boy Works episode on the Game Boy version. while the programmer and producer, under the alias Wada 891006, has never been properly identified (although there was a E. Wada at the company with a similar string of numbers in their Bucky O'Hare credit), some of the other staff members have since been identified as Hiroshi Iuchi (artist on Gunstar Heroes and Alien Soldier, director on Radiant Silvergun), Kazuhiko Ishida and Norio Hanzawa (main sound guy at Treasure for many titles). Finding out this game's art direction was headed by the future Radiant Silvergun director explains a lot, let me tell you.

As translated by Gosokkyu, Iuchi's website VG Materialshas a little insight into the development of Quarth, in particular its visual style- originally intended to have a standard sci-fi theme, after location tests went badly the decision was made to change the style. Iuchi decided to take inspiration from a topic he'd written a college thesis about, psychodelic and pop art, and in particular looked to Georges Méliès 1902 short film A Trip to the Moon and Renaissance-period artwork (he says something like you'd find in a dictionary) to create the game's strange, past-world aesthetic. While some of this was thrown out for the international version, Block Hole, memory and time restrictions meant that while the ship and some music was changed to be more sci-fi again, the backgrounds and general vibe were left as-is, creating an unusual mish-mash that we'll get back to later. He also explains that this was meant to be a light project, although his recollection is a little fuzzy as he was sure that was because it was was meant to be something to use up a bunch of overproduced boards but noticed that the hardware used for the game had a bunch of customisations made to it anyway. That's not entirely unusual for Konami though- it's listed under TMNT-Based Hardware on System 16 but, as their Konami section explains, the company didn't have much of a streamlined and organised division between hardware like you'd see with Sega or Namco hardware, they'd just use what they felt like on that particular day. So it's entirely possible Konami had an excess of something and wanted a fairly light and easy-to-produce puzzle game to get rid of 'em, but the specifics have been lost to time. Still, it's always nice to get insight like this on games of the period, so we'll take what we can get.

The game's story is told in an attract sequence that goes by pretty fast, so I'll transcribe it for you:

The year 199X
The delicate balance of gravity has disintegrated.
The ensuing cataclysm has produced a deadly phenomenon Block-Hole.
This destructive force has crashed and devoured everything in its path.
It is heading for Earth...

Humanity's last hope lies in the hands of the pilot of the diving bell-esque Block Shooter. Stop the Block-Hole from destroying the Earth!

Releasing in October 1989 according to アーケードTVゲームリスト 国内•海外編 (1971-2005) (ISBN: 978-4990251215), releasing that late in the year meant that there was a certain drop-puzzle game looming large as a possible inspiration- y'know, that whole Tetris thing- but this obviously plays completely differently, and merely goes to show how big a deal that game was when everyone wanted to try their hand at block manipulation. Anyway, your objective in Quarth is to stop the ever-descending blocks from hitting the deadline at your end of the screen, with a playfield of 16 x 24 blocks to play with, making it wider and taller than a Tetris Company-approved Tetris field. As the blocks move ever closer to you tile-by-tile rather than pixel-by-pixel (meaning they sort of 'snap' into place- this gives you less wriggle room for escaping death but it makes it easier to tell when you're in immediate danger), your Block Shooter can destroy them by creating squares or rectangles out of them by spitting small pieces upwards, with a little reticle showing when your next pieces's gonna land. Your little pieces will snap onto the bigger blocks heading towards you, and once they make the outline of either a square or a rectangle, they're gone. The bigger the shape you make, the more points you get but more importantly, the blocks stop scrolling for a precious few moments while the shape deletes itself from the universe which does block your shots temporarily but also gives you that little bit of breathing room you might need. As you progress through each stage, the blocks get faster and denser, but at certain points silver blocks will appear that wipe the screen when cleared and gold blocks appear to indicate the end of a stage, slowing the pace down again slightly as you enter the next battlefield.

For a puzzle-adjacent game of this vintage, it's best to give the two-player modes a quick mention too even if it's not my speciality. Versus modes weren't necessarily a guarantee in arcade puzzle games at this point after all- Atari's Tetris from the previous year certainly didn't have one, and neither did Sega's Columns the next year until its Mega Drive home conversion, instead allowing two players to play their own individual games on one cabinet. Quarth has this feature too but also includes two more interesting modes- a co-op mode where both players share a double-sized playfield similar to a mode found in Tengen Tetris on the NES and a proper versus mode. The co-op mode is actually really clever as neither player has full run of the playfield- you can't cross over the other player and each ship can only reach so far in the direction opposite to their starting corner. This means one player can't just carry the other, it needs a lot of coordination between players and you really have to work together to deal with the increased amount of blocks heading your way! The versus mode doesn't quite feel like a proper match though, as the game will continue even if a player gets knocked out and the only thing you can do to your opponent is cover the top half of their screen with blinder blocks, preventing them from seeing too far up their playfield. Still, it's nice that it's here at all, and a few home versions of the game would expand on the concept. Quarth may not be a genre-defining arcade versus puzzle game- we'd have to wait until 1994's Puyo Puyo Tsu for that- but the co-op mode makes up for it and is definitely worth trying with a willing pal.

The thing is, that's pretty much all there is to this game, it's actually surprisingly simple for a 1989 arcade game... I think that might be Quarth's biggest strength though. Puzzle games didn't need to be overly-fancy in the arcade to work, and I feel Quarth has that quality albeit with some light roadblocks for new players. See, turning a block into a shape that'll delete it from the playfield is a delicate art and it's not something you're necessarily going to grasp right away, especially when it comes to multiple shapes bunched together. When you first start playing, you're probably going to try and destroy multiple blocks at the same time only to find they won't connect and disappear together, probably leaving you in a rough spot as you made another block too large to handle. The trick is to pay attention to the way blocks are interconnected as they descend- what you're looking for are sets of blocks that can be turned into at least the outline of a square or rectangle but don't have any loose ends that go beyond that outline. If you've got a T-shaped block in the top-right corner of a formation, for example, that'll ruin the shape so dig your way around it first. Additionally, while making big blocks disappear can be a huge reward, it can be a hindrance too- they take longer to disappear from the playfield and that's good for stopping the scrolling, they'll also block shots until they disappear which can set you back a little, so there's more risks to making big blocks than just being close to the deadline, you need to plan ahead as best you can. Take a bit of time to get used to these rules though and it starts to click together. The other potential obstacle is that the game starts off fairly gentle but by the fourth stage it quietly removes the kid gloves and gets nasty, with more complex block patterns and massively increased speed. Surviving past this point requires precision piece-shooting and moving as efficiently as possible, and even then I wouldn't be surprised if most players get overwhelmed and wipe out. It gets pretty tense which is exciting in its own way though! This game does have an ending after the ninth stage but then loops afterwards, so this has always felt more like an endurance game, to see how far you can get, rather than something with a definitive end.

So if I'm not even that great at the game and the game is fairly simple... What keeps bringing me back, why was I happy to start again and again when getting screenshots for this? There's a couple of things, I think. For a start, the actual act of shooting out your pieces is weirdly satisfying. There's a limit to firing out four pieces at a time and you always know exactly where your piece is going to land thanks to the reticle, so you find yourself counting your pieces as you fling them out, getting everything nice and neat to make them disappear. It's scratching an itch akin to tidying up your workspace or home, organising everything properly which is a distinct feeling from block-drop puzzles which often leave a mess behind that's harder to clean up if that makes any sense (please watch me play Tetris sometime and look on in amusement as I get visibly upset when an S or Z tetriminos messes up my perfectly-organised pile). This isn't to say that other block puzzle games are bad because they get messy, and of course there's other puzzle games that focus more on clearing the board like Puzzle Bobble but there's something that feels good about Quarth's approach. Additionally, while shown as a single-button game on the flyer, emulations, ports and rereleases of the game usually have support for two buttons (and in the case of MAME, three!) that all shoot out pieces. This means particularly skilled players can 'piano' the buttons and shoot pieces very quickly which can give you a bit of an edge and you know what? That feels good. It can be a little easier to drop inputs this way and keep track of how many pieces you've launched out though, so you might want to do it the old fashioned way if you're trained in the single-button-mashing arts. In short, it's a game about creating order from chaos and creating that order feels nice and satisfying.

The other element that keeps bringing me back is almost certainly the most memorable part of Quarth, the presentation. As mentioned, Hiroshi Iuchi's main visual inspirations were Georges Méliès' A Trip to the Moon and Renaissance art, and everything in the game beyond the plain-looking blocks and pieces (probably to maintain visual clarity on what's going on in the playfield) has that kind of feel to it. You're not just in some spaceship (well, unless you're playing Block Hole, we'll get back to that), you're in a whimsical diving bell embraced by cherubim that isn't even really flying, it's attached to a set of planks that move it left and right. The backgrounds aren't just the stars, they're huge planets with beaming faces, with one even looking to the camera asking for help. This is all set to an infectious but initially slow-paced song, The Theme from Quarth which, as each stage progresses, changes to the slightly faster The Menace of the Block, culminating in the frantic The Closing Game in the Universe where youll be panicking and doing your best to keep the encroaching blocks at bay until you see that gold block and get that moment of respite. All this combines to create a very strange atmosphere to this one, almost dream-like in spite of how intense it gets, and it really makes it stand out amongst Konami's other arcade games from around this time period. The title screen in particular is one of my favourite parts- it's a simple scene showing the Block Shooter getting ready for launch, but it's presented in such a great way with all sorts of little details- the sepia-tone evoking the feeling of an old photograph, the little girl tottering up the steps, the concerned onlookers in awe of their creation... It's not the sort of thing you expect from an arcade game a lot of the time, but it's welcome.

I think that about wraps it up, which does feel a little odd, it's like I haven't really said too much about the nuts and bolts of the game itself! I mean, Quarth is a pretty simple game in a lot of ways. There are complexities to the block-destruction that might be a little off-putting at first, but once you start to learn how to read the playfield and figure out what you can get away with, it's really moreish, and I frequently find myself restarting straight away after a run goes awry to see if I can make it further or get away with more daring, gigantic block formations without being destroyed. Sometimes that's all an arcade game really needs to be, and while several of the home versions add extras like items to help you and a retooled versus mode, they're cute additions and might be versions of the game you prefer but the simplicity of the arcade game is what keeps bringing me back to it now and then, just for a quick go to see how far I can get this time. It's not going to be the first game you think of when you think of Konami arcade games, and it's almost certainly never going to be unless you're talking about visual style, but I'm OK with that. Quarth is just a neat little game that does what it sets out to do pretty well, and hopefully what I've said might get you to give it a try too. That's what this website is all about! Well, sometimes, anyway.

For taking a stab at mixing block puzzling and shooting, Quarth is awarded...

In a sentence, Quarth is...
A simple game, executed in a humble way.

And now, it's that time, folks!

OK, so, this is a Konami arcade game, so first on the agenda is regional differences!

Fortunately there's nothing as egregious as something like Crime Fighters but it's best to display this in a table, like so:

Quarth (Japanese) Block Hole (World)
You play as the Block Shooter, a diving bell-like ship held by little cherubs. You play as an unnamed generic spaceship.
The Block Shooter is attached to a set of steel planks that slide it left to right with the playfield being scrolled by gears and it sits underneath a gold border. The spaceship moves of its own accord attached to nothing with the playfield being scrolled by a small conveyor belt and it sits underneath a silver border.
The title screen is a sepia-tone shot of the Block Shooter being prepared for lift-off. The title screen is a full-colour shot of the player's spaceship in an open hangar.
When someone begins a one-player game, a second player cannot join in until the first player's game is over.
The playfield in a single-player game is centred to the middle of the screen.
When someone begins a one-player game, a second player can join in and play their own game at any time.
The playfield in a single-player game is aligned to the left side of the screen, with the second player's playfield always visible.
The title screen has a little jingle, included at the end of the song listed on the soundtrack as The Marauding Block (Title Demo). The title screen has a different jingle, listed on the soundtrack as The Prologue Of "The Block Hole" (Overseas Title Demo)
The first part of each stage uses the song listed on the soundtrack as The Theme From Quarth (BGM1). The first part of each stage uses the song listed on the soundtrack as The Theme From "Block Hole" (Overseas BGM1).
The other songs in the game remain the same, except The Menace of the Blocks has an additional note in the background track.

This is kind of a strange one as while there's clearly an attempt to localise the game, it doesn't really go all the way with it. The diving bell and the main theme might be gone but the backgrounds are exactly the same! Hiroshi Iuchi's website suggests that there were plans to replace the backgrounds with mecha images but they weren't able to implement this due to space restrictions. I suppose to make it feel more like a proper localisation they could've just removed the backgrounds entirely... But honestly, I think Block Hole is a little weirder for having the Quarth backgrounds and that's not a criticism. Makes it really feel like a mixed-media project, you know?

Next, home versions. There were a surprising number of them, and I'm pleased to report there's an easily-available modern version too!

To keep things simple, all of these were Japan-exclusive with a few exceptions that'll be pointed out.

Additionally, the credits (or lack thereof) generally point to these being developed either by Konami or unknown developers, so we won't dwell on that.

The first version is, unsurprisingly for Konami, the MSX2 port released in early March 1990.

This is a good port considering the hardware and aims to reproduce the arcade game as faithful as possible, with the core gameplay in tact and the only big change there being the way blocks scroll- they move pixel-by-pixel rather than in tile-shaped chunks, so you have slightly more wriggle-room before you lose the stage. There's a fair few concessions mostly in the presentation department- no intro sequence beyond the title screen image, no background details beyond the current area marker and the two-player mode where players play separate games is missing (on the plus side, co-op allows players to cross over one-another but are still limited in how far they can move in certain directions and the playfield is now thinner)- but the game plays quite faithfully with minimal flickering and there's also some neat extras. There's a little config screen before you start a game letting you pick the speed and level but also your player ship (including the Quarth and Block Hole designs and two new ones) and background music (including the Quarth and Block Hole themes as well as two new ones and new later-stage themes for the Block Hole theme). Wow, that's a lot extra to cram in! You don't get the option to adjust the number of extra lives and continues make you restart the current stage but otherwise this is a decent port and what you'd want in terms of a 'pure' contemporary port of the game... Without breaking the bank getting the high-end home computer version we'll see later.

The MSX2 version was also available on the Wii Virtual Console (2006-2019) and Wii U Virtual Console (2012-2023), both only in Japan of course.

The following week in March 1990 came the Game Boy port which would release in the US later that year.

If you've played any version of Quarth before, it's probably this one. One of the first 50 games released for the system and the fourth from Konami, this recreates the general mechanics of the arcade game (although it looks wider, the playfield is still 16-tiles wide) but also adds a few things. Admittedly the presentation takes a big hit but you do get get a choice of six ships that change the background music and design of the status bar (and all have names given in the credits- the classic diving bell is Ding the Third) and the playfield is nice and clear- as lovely as the backgrounds are, they'd really get in the way on the Game Boy screen and this does a fine job of keeping things visible on the ol' toaster. The block patterns also feel somewhat less complex than the arcade game, with more structured arrangements appearing such as lots of wide thin rectangles appearing in formation that you can easily rapid-shot to get rid of. The most notable thing about this version is that it's the first with an item system! Create big enough shapes and you'll be given an item, with bigger shapes giving you better items- in order you get a fast shot, a screen-freeze, a screen-clear, a scroll slowdown and a 'mystery' item that could do anything. Unlike the silver blocks of the arcade game, you can hold on to these for when you need them, use them with B and toggle between them with Down but can only hold one of each at a time so you need to use them while you have them, although this can be avoided if you're quick- if you earn an item you already have, using the one you have before the next one makes it over to your status bar means it won't get wasted!

Beyond that, there's two main single player modes, the standard mode where you advance through progressively-more-difficult stages as you would in standard Quarth but with a quota of blocks to break (with bonus points being awarded for any beyond the quota) and random where there's no quota and the blocks are more randomised. You can also select the speed and your starting stage which is a common feature in both other Quarth ports and Konami Game Boy games in general, which is a nice feature if you want to challenge yourself right away. There's also two-player via the Link Cable but only the versus mode is available here, implementing the sight-obscuring blocks of the arcade game and the power-ups of this version adjusted to screw with your opponent like speeding up or increasing the density of their blocks. Honestly, Quarth is an ideal fit for the Game Boy, being exactly the sort of puzzle game that thrives on the hardware, and this version does the job very well so it definitely comes recommended if you're a fan. Curiously, I only ever found one scan of the manual for this version via this site so here it is. And yes, it's written in the Western Konami manual style of the time, so enjoy that.

We're skipping ahead now but the Game Boy version was repackaged twice.

Once with Super Game Boy support in 1998 in Japan and again with Game Boy Color support in 2000 exclusively in Europe.

The Super Game Boy version was included in Konami GB Collection Vol. 4, the last of a technically Japan-only collection of black & white Game Boy anthologies with four games on each cart. A mixture of old games and new ports (on this volume Frogger is all-new) these generally keep the original games as they were and just mildly prune them, taking out things like multiplayer modes usually, but adding in Super Game Boy support (in Quarth's case, you get a nice border) and little instructional sections hosted by girls from Tokimeki Memorial (this one is hosted by Miharu Tatebayashi, the shadow girl who bumps into you a lot) who offer you instructions, tips and give you a ranking on each game you've played. In a cute touch, this section is framed a bit like the date sections from actual TokiMemo games! Beyond the Super Game Boy support and the lack of multiplayer, this is pretty much the same game but it's nice to have it available elsewhere.

Ah, but what if you wanted a bit more colour in your life? Two years later, Konami Europe released all four of the Konami GB Collection games under the same title but mixed the order around- the Japanese Vol. 4 is now Vol. 2 over here- and chucked out the Super Game Boy support and Tokimeki Memorial stuff (including the instructions, hope you got a manual with your copy), replacing it with Game Boy Color support while accidentally making some of the games worse, plaguing them with slowed-down gameplay (Motocross Maniacs suffers from this in particular). Fortunately, Quarth seems to run completely fine and adds individual colour schemes to the selectable ships, but I'm not keen on the colouration of the playfield- the blocks are the same colour as the background which was technically the case in the original but you would've thought they'd use the addition of colour to make the blocks stand out more. This is less of an issue on later stages where there's heavier shading but it's still not ideal. This version also adds one extra indignity- for whatever reason the game was renamed BLOCK GAME complete with a new Space Invaders-style logo. Motocross Maniacs had a similar change to Bikers, but apparently Guttang Gottong is just fine as it is.

The original Game Boy version was also released on the 3DS Virtual Console (2011 - 2023) with the 2P option still on the title screen, just unusable.

Back to contemporary ports... The following month in April 1990, Japan got the Famicom port.

While it's missing the extra music and ship designs from the MSX2 and Game Boy versions- you only get the Quarth and Block Hole ships, named Ding (P1) / Dong (P2) and Shooter I (P1) / Shooter II (P2) in the manual- the Famicom port is still a decent rendition of the game, although less faithful than the MSX2 one. As well as sharing the pixel-by-pixel scrolling of the other ports, the big changes come in the form of the replacements for the silver and gold blocks. When a different-coloured block appears now, your targeting reticle changes to show a symbol indicating what effect it'll have (you can see the effects in this manual transcription which seems to be the only place on the internet that documents this) ranging from bonus points, a x2 multiplier, a screen-clear and slowing the blocks down. Other changes include later levels making the playfield wider or thinner and the addition of extends- you start with a few lives in reserve and can earn extra ones at certain point thresholds, and they work just as they do in the arcade game, clearing the screen upon death. Additionally, the co-op and versus modes come back from the arcade version but the versus mode has been beefed up a bit, adding a handicap option,and replacing the screen-covering blocks with attacks now bringing your opponent's death-line closer to the top of the screen, which is particularly evil! If I have an issue with this one, it's that it feels perhaps a little too easy as while your item usage is more limited than the Game Boy game, you can very easily stockpile extra lives as the game gives them out pretty often. Maybe it's because I'm so used to the arcade version with no extra lives, but it kinda takes some of the tension away. That might be more your bag though, so this is a good version of the game that you might find a little easier than others.

Next along is the X68000 version, released in July 1990 Damn, they really banged 'em out, huh?

While the X68000 has a reputation for arcade-perfect ports of contemporary arcade games, it's important to note that's not always the case (see The NewZealand Story) but fortunately for Quarth it gets a great conversion here, replicating the look of the arcade game very faithfully including the tile-by-tile scrolling as opposed to pixel-by-pixel. The main difference is the resolution as the game screen is taller but thinner, but this doesn't really affect anything as the game cuts off the block border around the playfield, meaning it's about the same width as the arcade original. The only other real oddity here is that the music is at a higher pitch and slightly faster speed than the original, but everything else is here- all three two-player modes, all the graphics and presentation you'd expect including the attract mode intro, it's barebones with no real options (making it one of the few ports to not have stage / difficulty selection) but if you were a high-end Japanese computer owner back in 1990, this would be the definitive home version.

The final of the contemporary ports is the PC-9801 version in Septebmer 1990, if JP Wikipedia is to be trusted.

This is another one that's fairly close to the arcade game but still makes a few changes and has yet another new item system separate from the other versions, how strange! This still has the pixel-by-pixel scrolling (only in one-player mode though, two-player modes use the tile-by-tile scrolling of the arcade game) and tries to aesthetically recreate the arcade game as closely as possible, keeping in the backgrounds and little details like the sliding contraption your diving bell's attached to. It's a little crusty but it does a surprisingly good job of it! This time, destroying big enough blocks will award you a star that you can stock up to nine of, and pressing Down to use one slows the blocks down for as long as the star is on-screen. The fact you can build up a stock of them and they last a while makes them quite powerful items for reaching later areas, but if you lose a life (which sends you back a little rather than instantly respawn) then all your earned stars are gone, so you gotta use 'em while you can. This version also asks you for your name for high-score saving before you start a game which is a nice touch and has the usual stage and difficulty selection options. One of those ports that doesn't do anything particularly out of the ordinary but it's a solid, workman-like conversion. Sometimes, that's all you can really ask for from a port of an arcade game, so we'll take it.

Before we move on to the next set of ports, can we just chat about how interesting it is that even after the arcade release, Konami kept tinkering with Quarth? I find it really neat that several of these ports have their own foibles and features, and while three of them add an item mechanic, they're all very different from one another and implement the feature in their own unique way! Isn't that cool? I think it's cool. It's the sort of thing that only really happens in eras where there's huge differences between consoles, I guess. Just thinking out loud here, don't mind me.

After that, there was silence. Except for a Japan-only mobile port I cannot find a single blessed thing about except one (1) screenshot, bloody hell!

It's called Block Quarth. It apparently came out in 2002. This is the single screenshot I could find from this website. That's it.

After that, you'd have to wait until January 2006 for the Playstation 2 port of the game under Hamster's Oretachi Gēsen Zoku series of rereleases.

Wait, Hamster? The Arcade Archives Hamster? The very same, and while we'll be seeing the Arcade Archives in a moment, their origins in the retro game rerelease market are a lot less prestigious. Oretachi Gēsen Zoku was a series of single-game rereleases of arcade games from Data East, Technōs, Video System, Nichibutsu and of course Konami, and Quarth was among company such as Thunder Cross and, uh, Haunted Castle. As Wikipedia tells it, these seem like nice little sets, coming with a mini DVD with trailers and a sueprplay of the game, a mini CD with the soundtrack and remixes by SuperSweep and reproductions of the arcade flyer, instruction cards and even strategy guides! What's not to like? Well, from my limited experience these versions are junk- they've got very limited options and are using outdated versions of MAME as their base, leading to strange problems such as slowed-down music in Quarth. Worse than that, they're expensive junk as they've since become collector's items. I like Quarth as I think it should be obvious by now, but I'm not paying a hundred quid for a busted version just to make sure it's as busted as it looks. What we have instead is a rip of the mini DVD that came with the game, clickable above because the embed kept breaking for some reason, so you know roughly what to expect. Phooey.

Fortunately, Hamster would redeem themselves with the Arcade Archives release of the game in 2021, the way to play Quarth on home consoles today.

As with all ACA releases, this is a little barebones (just like this text that's been reused on this site so many times now) but it mostly does the job- the game is here but there's no jukebox, no online multiplayer, none of that. However, what you do get with this version is the choice between the Japanese and World versions of the game, the full set of dipswitch settings, a five-minute timed Caravan Mode, a one-credit Hi-Score Mode with its own leaderboards, two buttons for firing so you can configure different rapid-fire speeds for them and a few screen options including scanlines and even CRT-style screen-rolling. More importantly, the game's music plays at the correct speed this time! If you're not interested in any of the additions made in the contemporary home ports and just want a bit of Quarth to play at home legally, here it is.

Surprisingly, there's a few references to Quarth in other Konami games, so let's take a quick look.

First, the one that got away. a prototype of Ganbare Goemon: Yukihime Kyuushutsu Emaki / The Legend of the Mystical Ninja for the SNES found in the 2020 Nintendo Gigaleak has a selection of music tracks deleted from the final game... And one of them is The Theme from Quarth, the whole song! Now how did that get there? Well, the final game has game centres hosted by Konami Lady (well, it might be her) and the first one you find in Shokoku Island has a game called Tear Down the Wall, a very short and simple Breakout-style game... That happens to use backgrounds and sprites that look a lot like Quarth but in miniature. However, it just uses the game centre music, so either they decided to just not implement the music or it's the remnant of a scrapped mini-port of Quarth, who knows?

The Goemon series would eventually get a big nod to Quarth in the first and only DS Goemon game (and final game in the series as a whole... As of 2023 at least), Ganbare Goemon: Tōkaidōchū Ōedo Tengurikaeshi no Maki. The game has a Quarth minigame with Goemon's mech Impact sitting in for the Block Shooter and lucky me, it's available from the main menu so it's easy to grab screenshots of! While the basic gameplay is pretty much what you'd expect, this has a few features not seen in other versions of Quarth. Specifically, this has a vertical presentation so the action is divided between the two screens on top of one another, there's a new grading system offering points bonuses for Good, Great and Fantastic blocks (the more blocks you have in a single destroyed shape, the better) and... Boss battles?! Yes, at the end of each stage you'll be locked in battle with the Big Core from the Gradius series who fires blocks down at you very slowly- turn them into squares and rectangles to send them back, with bigger ones doing more damage. This isn't a bad version to try, honestly, and it helps that it's attached to a pretty interesting game- you can read more about it over on Kimimi's blog!

Finally, in what must be the strangest cameo of all, the Block Shooter is an unlockable ship in Airforce Delta Strike alongside many other Konami ships.

According to GameFAQs, you can unlock it by earning all eight medals in the game as a single pilot. It's in the video above at the 54 minute mark.

And yes, it still has the cherubs and still shoots blocks!

If you were curious, the name appears to be the same in the Japanese version, Airforce Delta: Blue Wing Knights.

As far as I'm aware, this is the only time the name of the ship's been shown in-game outside of the Game Boy credits calling it Ding the Third.

The universe is safe from the menace of the Block Hole... For now.

In an alternate timeline, this was the plot of the Tetris movie.