Definitions

Qix

Qix

Qix (pronounced /kɪks/) is an arcade game, released by Taito America Corporation in 1981.

Gameplay

The objective of Qix is to fence off, or “claim”, a supermajority of the playfield. At the start of each level, the playing field is a large, empty rectangle, containing the Qix—a sticklike entity that performs graceful, but unpredictable motions within the confines of the rectangle.

The player controls a small diamond-shaped marker that can move around the edges of the rectangle.

To claim an area of the screen, the player must detach from an edge and draw Stix within the rectangle. Stix are simply lines traced out by moving the marker. When the marker completes a closed shape, the captured area becomes solid and points are awarded.

The player may draw either Fast Stix, which appear blue when solid, or Slow Stix, which appear red. Slow Stix take longer to draw, but are worth twice as many points. The player is vulnerable and can lose a life when drawing Stix if the Qix touches a Stix line as it is being drawn, before it becomes solid. While drawing Slow Stix, it is possible to switch to Fast Stix, but doing so will forfeit the doubled points.

Once the player has claimed an area, the marker can safely move along the border of that claimed area but must avoid “Sparx” which traverse the edges and will cost the player a life if touched.

There is a Time Meter located at the top of the screen. When the time meter reaches zero, two additional “Sparx” enter the playfield and continue to traverse the perimeter of unclaimed space. When the time meter reaches zero once again, the Sparx become Super-Sparx, having the ability to chase the player even up an unfinished Stix line. Neither the Qix nor the Sparx can be destroyed, only outmaneuvered.

To complete a level, the player must claim most of the playfield. (The game was shipped at 75 percent, but the arcade operator could adjust the requirement between 50 percent and 90 percent.) Players meeting the requirement won the round and earned a bonus of 1,000 points per additional percentage claimed (e.g., claiming 80 percent of the field won a 5,000-point bonus, since it was 5 percent more than needed).

Once there are two Qixes, drawing a complete line such that the Qixes are separated results in a “Splix Qix” and a multiplier applied to all future points earned for each Splix.

After the player completes two levels, the difficulty increases. Initially, two Qixes appear instead of one. From the third level on, Qixes move faster. On later levels, Sparxes move faster and become more plentiful. Eventually, only Super Sparxes appear.

Trapping the Qix

One of many successful methods of advancing in the game is to "cage the Qix". This is done by using the stix to create long, thin, barbed, multi-directional tubes into the playing field. As the "Qix" undulates on the screen it may become caged and restricted within one of these "cages". In this way the player can proceed to claim maximum percentage of the playfield with relative safety (except for the "Sparx" and "Fuse" of course.) With some foresight, a good player can claim up to 95% of the playfield and receive optimum bonuses. The game is arranged to open a new screen upon achieving the preset percentage. This was important to consider when approaching the "new screen" percentage ie. preventing a switch at a low point production percentage. Example: the player has achieved 74% of the screen. The "house" has set the new screen implimentor at 75%. The very next successful excursion into the playfield will result in a new screen. With the "qix" trapped, the player must claim the optimum space since this is the last turn for this page. Precaution: the "Qix" can still bite while in a cage.

Enemies

There are three enemies in the game, each of which is fatal to the player.

1. The primary enemy is the Qix itself. If the Qix touches any part of an uncompleted Stix, the player loses a life. The Qix is dangerous only while a Stix is being drawn; it cannot hurt the player while he is simply traversing the unclaimed perimeter. The Qix moves faster and more aggressively at each higher level. Beginning at Level 3, there are two Qixes rather than one, greatly increasing the challenge. (In a two-Qix level, the player may successfully complete a level without filling 75% of the screen by drawing a Stix between the two Qixes, isolating them into separate sides of the game board. The score for the next level is doubled when this happens.) The Qix's strategy of random movements followed by lightning attacks, and its ability to coordinate its attacks with the position of the Sparx, gives the illusion of a highly intelligent adversary. Though primitive, this artificial intelligence makes Qix one of the most difficult arcade games — impossible to beat and only slightly less impossible to master.

2. Sparx are small red sparks that travel along the edges of the rectangle and of any claimed area. They have no intelligence and simply follow the path blindly at a constant speed. If a Sparx touches the marker, the player loses a life. Initially the Sparx cannot travel along the Stix that's currently being drawn, but if the player takes too long on one screen and/or at higher levels, the Sparx become blue Super Sparx, gaining the ability to follow the player up an unfinished Stix line.

3. The Fuse appears if the marker stops moving whilst in the process of drawing Stix. Fuses are similar to Sparx, but they travel along the Stix, appearing to 'burn' it in the manner of a real fuse wire. If the Fuse travels all the way to the marker, the player loses a life. The Fuse disappears as soon as the marker starts moving again.

4. The arcade preview screen cites a fourth enemy: the Spiral Death Trap. However, this arises only when the player has blundered while drawing a Stix. The marker cannot cross an unfinished Stix line, nor can it retrace its path, so it is possible for the player to draw a Stix that cannot be completed — in effect, painting himself into a corner. Death by Fuse then cannot be avoided (unless the Qix or a Super Sparx gets to the player first.)

Ports

In 2000, a port for the Game Boy Color was released called Qix Adventure. This version features a new "Adventure" mode where the player travels a map screen, taking on various opponents which appear on the playing field. This adds a level of difficulty to the game, as these characters must also be captured in order to complete each level.

As of 2007, the original game was available on the online game-playing service Gametap.

Emulations

Qix has been emulated in various Taito game collections which are available for PlayStation 2, Xbox, Microsoft Windows and PSP.

In addition, the games Super Qix and Volfied (also known as Ultimate Qix) are available in the first Taito Legends. However, the original Qix is not.

Legacy

Qix spawned a sequel, Qix II-Tournament in 1982 and that was followed by Super Qix, which was released in 1987. Another sequel, Twin Qix, reached prototype stage in 1995, but was never commercially released. It can be played using MAME. The later game Volfied (also known as Ultimate Qix or Qix Neo on Playstation) was created as an additional sequel to Qix and the game has been ported to several cell phones.

Other modifications include:

  • The Gals Panic series of games are almost exact clones in terms of Qix's gameplay, except with larger animated enemies, and pictures of scantily clad girls that are revealed as the player claims more area. Because of the large enemies encountered, the game is typically more frustrating and unrelenting than Qix and its predecessors, as a player can wind up being completely surrounded and unable to move by the large enemies.
  • Cacoma Knight in Bizyland, a 1993 SNES Game with similar gameplay.
  • JezzBall, a game with similar gameplay, was created by Microsoft and later distributed with some versions of Microsoft Windows.
  • Xonix is another Qix clone.
  • Erix ia s Qix clone, which has been seen in the software for at least one Ericsson phone model (the T39m) around 2000-2001.
  • Styx (game), a 1983 MS-DOS clone.
  • Ultimate Qix, for the Sega Genesis/Megadrive, a science-fiction version.
  • There is a variation of Qix as a playable minigame in the 2006 PS2 game, Bully.
  • Styx Reloaded, a 2004 freeware clone for Microsoft Windows. The game added a much better graphical presentation and smaller additions to game play, such as pickups for score, greater avatar speed, and extra lives.
  • Barrack, shareware produced by Ambrosia Software for the Macintosh, features gameplay similar to Qix; a major difference is that a laser draws straight lines to isolate areas.

External links

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