Skip to main content

Chex Quest HD review: Only 90’s kids will understand

Chex Quest HD | Official Game Trailer
Chex Quest HD review: Only 90’s kids will understand
“Chex Quest HD is a short, but pleasant hit of 90's nostalgia.”
  • Faithful to the original
  • Simple, but fun shooting
  • Delightfully nostalgic
  • Missing basic UI
  • Very little replay value

Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat: You already know if you’re going to download Chex Quest HD.

That’s because the free remake, which modernizes a 1996 childhood staple that came packaged with boxes of Chex cereal, isn’t a game as much as it is a 1990s nostalgia trip. Your enjoyment of this bizarre first-person shooter will be directly proportional to how much time you spent zorching flemoids on your parents’ PC as a kid. And if “zorching flemoids” already sounds like a foreign language, don’t expect to get in on the joke now. If you know, you know.

Chex Quest HD’s quality is inseparable from its context. For fans who grew up with the original, it’s a faithful, though incomplete preservation that makes one of gaming’s weirdest marketing stunts fun again. For everyone else, it’s a minimalist Doom clone that’s about as deep as a bowl of Chex.

Chex the right boxes

Chex Quest was originally developed as a ploy to make Chex cereal more appealing to modern kids. The game used id Software’s Doom engine to create a wholesome first-person shooter that replaced chainsaws and shotguns with spoons and laser-firing remote controls. Instead of Doomguy, players guided the Chex Warrior on a mission to teleport snot-like aliens back to their home dimension.

While the HD update trades in sprites for smooth 3D textures, the remake is still Doom at its core. In each level, players need to navigate maze-like stages, track down colored key cards, and discover secret passages. a quarter-century later, Chex Quest HD carries a double serving of gratifying nostalgia: one for the game itself, and one for a style of PC shooter that dominated the ’90s.

This preservation is important, because time has not been kind to the original game. After I finished my pleasant, hourlong playthrough of the remake, I tried to revisit the ‘1996 version, to see how much had really changed. I was surprised (well, maybe not too surprised) to find it wasn’t as fun as I’d remembered. The movement felt cumbersome, and I couldn’t wrap my head around the game’s clumsy keyboard aiming.

Chex Quest HD carries a double serving of gratifying nostalgia: One for the game itself, and one for a style of PC shooter that dominated the ’90s.

By comparison, Chex Quest HD feels much closer to what I remember. That’s most apparent in the shooting (er, zorching), which is more legible thanks to reworked animations. Zorchers feel more like ray guns and less like unwieldy TV remotes. The improvements go a long way toward making the game playable again without sacrificing any of its goofball charm.

Mixed bag

While it keeps my childhood memories safe, Chex Quest HD doesn’t do much to transcend its nostalgia act. That’s not for lack of trying.

The big addition is a multiplayer mode, which can only be played with four friends locally, or over Steam. That limitation hints at how it’s best enjoyed: Sitting down with a few close friends to laugh at the absurdity of a Chex Mix-themed death match. Divorced from that context, it’s not much more than a novelty within a novelty.

Chex Quest HD

Along with the new mode, the game features several characters who can be unlocked by finding passwords on social media, or in bags of Chex Mix. It’s a smart marketing trick, but the characters don’t add much to the experience. They all play the same, with the main difference being that they come with their own set of corny voice lines. Each character has their own alternate campaign ending, but I’m not sure if anyone is so mystified by Chex lore that they’ll want to play through the story mode six times.

The remake adds a few new features, but none of them transform the game into anything more than a brief stroll down memory lane.

Chex Quest HD also lacks a few features from the original. The remake does away with the original’s five difficulty settings, removing the game’s main source of replay value. And strangely, there’s no longer a way to look at a map or view the game’s controls.

Maybe it’s nitpicky to scold a game that features Chex Mix branding on just about every door for its interface shortcomings. But considering that the remake is introducing itself to a generation who aren’t in on the joke, it doesn’t try too hard to convert new followers. Chex Quest rose to cult status because the idea of a free video game was mind-blowing to ’90s kids. That idea just doesn’t have the same impact in the age of Fortnite.

Our take

Chex Quest HD is a breezy blast for anyone who’s looking to spend an afternoon in the ’90s. Smoother shooting and tweaked animations make for a more legible experience that’s still true to the 1996 game, but the minimal package isn’t likely to win over players who aren’t as easily wowed by a “free” label in 2020. Missing UI and shallow extras turn this goofball oddity into the embodiment of the “only ’90s kids will understand” meme.

Is there a better alternative?

Dusk is a better balance of nostalgia and quality for those looking for a 1990s-style shooter, but Chex Quest HD is the only snack-themed Doom clone on the market.

How long will it last?

The five levels take around an hour to complete, though secrets, unlockable characters, and local multiplayer are available for those looking to squeeze an extra play session out of it.

Should you buy it?

Yes. It’s short, it’s free, and it’s just weird enough to merit a curious glance.

Editors' Recommendations

Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
Samsung’s huge CHG90 wins first DisplayHDR approval with its stunning picture

Although Samsung’s CHG90 curved display hit the streets in August, it now serves as the very first display that is officially certified as a DisplayHDR compliant product by the Video Electronics Standards Association. The non-profit organization developed the DisplayHDR standard earlier this year to establish requirements necessary to define the quality of high dynamic range levels in displays. The organization established three performance tiers: DisplayHDR 400, 600, and 1000.

In the case of Samsung’s CHG90, it’s a mid-level DisplayHDR certified device, aka DisplayHDR 600. Tiers are based on white level performance, black level performance, and color depth performance. You can see the numbers here, but according to Samsung, HDR technology was used to increase the display’s contrast to 3,000:1. The panel is also an “industry standard-setter” with its vibrant presentation and color accuracy.

Read more
Sonic Mania's opening animation sets the stage perfectly for this '90s throwback
sonic mania animation 90s retro sonicmaniaanimation

Sonic Mania is doing what most Sonic fans have wanted since the blue hedgehog transitioned into three dimensions: taking it back to the original quadrilogy. And not only does Sonic Mania's gameplay reflect that classic era of '90s gaming, its opening animation sets the stage perfectly for a time period that loved pastel colors, bizarrely abstract backdrops, and less-than-lean protagonists.

The Sonic franchise is a somewhat bizarre one in its enduring popularity, because although Sonic is one of gaming's most classic and beloved faces, the game has not fared well in the years since its mid-'90s peak. There have been odd diamonds in the rough, but there have been an awful lot of lacklustre Sonic games over the years. While many will argue the reason for that, Headcannon and PagodaWest have decided that it was straying from the classic formula, which is why Sonic Mania goes back to Sonic's 2D roots.

Read more
‘Sonic Mania’ will take us all back to the ’90s on August 15
sonic mania august 15 release sonicmaniarunning

Sonic, Tails, and Knuckles are all set to return to our digital screens this August 15 when Sonic Mania is released. The retro-looking and feeling Sonic side-scroller stands apart from many games within the franchise and the latest trailer for the game reflects that, with some hand-drawn art from Sonic comic artist, Tyson Hesse.

Although there have been many Sonic games over the years, none have quite captured the fan-love and esteem of the original quadrilogy on the Genesis from the early '90s. While there are various theories as to why, one of the most popular is the push for three-dimensional worlds, something that Sonic Mania does away with. This is a Sonic game as it was originally intended.

Read more