|Thankfully, this demonstration makes for a more impressive screenshot than my attempts at playing|
I haven't got the foggiest of ideas what it is, but reading up on Qix (pronounced 'Kicks'), it's plain to see that this game is unlike any other I've played from this list so far. It doesn't involve shooting anything, it doesn't have any real world analog, but it requires quick thinking and reflexes, as well as a bit of strategy and luck. It's a fast paced puzzler of sorts.
The aim of the game is to fence off sections of the playing field, enough to block out more than 75%. You can draw fast or slow, with slower sections - marked in red - scoring you more points.
That would be a dull game were it not for the Qix, Sparks, and your own stupidity getting in the way of things. The Qix is a kind of spiralling, dancing, mess of a threat. Sometimes it hangs out well away from you before expanding and reaching right where you don't want it to. If it touches you, that's one life down.
The Sparks travel along the available playing field, and if they catch up to you, it's another life down. It's best to get moving before they arrive, even if it's just to avoid them with a small section of the playing field.
Finally, appropriately for a three life format, is your own foolishness. If you dawdle while drawing, your line becomes a fuse and you don't want the fuse to run out or that's one more life down. If you get yourself into a bit of a pickle, or a 'spiral death trap' as the introduction calls it, you're done for. Go home, you've lost all your lives.
Sounds fairly straightforward. It's well explained with a short introduction and demonstration, and then you're plonked into the game and it's up to you to get scoring.
Let's just say it takes a little while to get the hang of it. Especially when you're fumbling with your emulator buttons, trying to see which one does what (movement is obvious, lines are drawn at two different speeds with two different keys).
The thing with Qix is that you see your mistake highlighted with the death animation, for want of a better word. It'll show you what hit you and where, leading to cases of "Oh, right, the Qix just has to touch the line" and "Ah, the Sparks follow these lines but not those".
I was learning while doing, but it took a few credits. Today they're virtual, but back in an arcade, that's pocket money. Lord knows how the patient managed to get the high scores...
Once you get the hang of it, Qix is addictive. You inch your way into better strategies, you succeed by sheer dumb luck, you fail, you find out why, you remember next time only to fail thanks to something else, and you just keep going.
For a while I thought 75% was unobtainable, managing to get 74% and no more. But more and more rounds went by, my reactions quickened, my brain fell into the zone and things just clicked.
I didn't score terribly well, but I got passed 75%. I was then pretty much immediately dumped into the next round and promptly failed that one. I read that higher levels and difficulty add Sparks, speed them up, even have two Qix on the field at once.
That's going to take a bit of practice.
It seems silly to write that a game listed in a Video Games You Must Play list is a must play, but Qix really is a must play. Once you pick up the rules and get used to a few strategies for quickly dealing with any problems that arise - as well as planning ahead for your future - Qix becomes a quirky little go-to game for a quick session.
Qix is addicting, answering that 'just one more go' itch. Failure isn't frustrating. Annoying at first, but you're learning, and will only improve as time goes by. Time playing Qix isn't time wasted.
Being open and 'unbeatable', gamers soon lost their interest for Qix. Why they couldn't just have fun is anyones guess.
Qix, developed by Taito, first published in 1981.
Version played: Arcade, 1981, via emulation.