Monday, May 23, 2005

Recommended Gaming: MAME GP32

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I still remember (admittedly vaguely) first seeing Qix at a local fish and chip shop, around 1981 when it was first introduced by Taito. What a futuristic looking and sounding game. Gameplay appeared to be quite simple, and sure enough it is. But as for difficulty, well that's another story. Qix must rate as one of the most difficult games out there. I never spent a huge amount of time on it, but I was a regular player, and can't remember ever getting beyond about the 5th screen. Control is simple: a four-way joystick and 2 draw buttons; one fast, one slow. Naturally the slow button scores more points. The aim is equally simple: fill in 75% of the playfield by drawing boxes. You're pursued by 3 kinds of nasties: the qix which you see drift around the open part of the playfield, sparx which zoom around the perimeter of the open part of the playfield, and fuses, which are lit and come after you when you dawdle too long while drawing. The qix will kill you by touching your line mid-draw, that is to say if you are drawing a line to form a closed box, but have not yet closed that box, and the qix touches any part of that unclosed box, you die. You may think the qix is moving in a set pattern, but he's not. He can dart to any point in the open playfield at any time. The sparx are a little easier to deal with, if only because they move in a predictible way (usually). They'll just hoon around the outside of the open playfield. This can cause problems though, if you have them coming at you from either side. In this case drawing a quick small box to get out of their way will give you some breathing space, at least until they come around again, as sparx cannot travel on a box that you've not yet completed drawing. Fuses are there to kill off the novice. If you pause for even a moment while drawing a box, they'll light from where you first started drawing and chase you down. So finish off that box as quickly as possible or you're toast! There are a lot of different strategies out there to fill the 75% needed to go to the next level. One I use sometimes is to try to start drawing long thin boxes, from the middle bottom of the screen toward the top. This way you can keep the qix on one side, eventually finishing off the draw to claim an easy 50%. Of course if you finish it off with the slow buttton you score huge points. You can do this again, this time horizontally, again coralling the qix and finishing off with the slow button. Keep in mind, every percent filled over the 75% threshold scores a large bonus. So filling to 74% and then attempting to get another 10 or so can really help your score. Of course, as soon as you hit that 75% threshold you'll move on to the next level. When you draw with the slow button the filled box will be brown, using the fast button it'll be blue.
At the 5th level you'll be facing 2 qix. Splitting them into seperate compartments will apparently give you a large bonus score, but I never managed it, though I've seen it done by Qix-addicts.
Qix really deserves your time, the sound is great, really worth turning the volume up on, and it's one of those games that'll put you on edge several times each time you play it. It can get really tense when you've got a qix hurtling at you, a fuse lighting up to run you down and no-where left to run. It deserved much more praise than it got back in the day. I think it got relegated to the back of arcades becuase it was intimidating. But we've all had 25 years to get better at videogames, so why don't you fire it up and see just how good you are.
You'll find Qix in the Taito filder of GPMame32, and it likes a little frameskip which doesn't detract from gameplay. When booting it up it'll ask you what language you want, do the same trick as the Williams games by hitting Start and Select to get through this.

Reviewed by: Alyinsanfran


Blogger BobBorakovitz said...

very, very nice review, Al! Qix is a classic that was overlooked at the time, but I think it eventually got the recognition it deserved (kinda) by all the Asian pron Qix clones!
I play Qix a lot in some form or another ;)

Tue May 24, 04:04:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Give us more reviews ! :-)

Tue May 31, 01:37:00 PM EDT  
Blogger BobBorakovitz said...

there are more on the way, I've been a bit busy, myself...but have a few started.
I'm not sure about Alan, but I'm sure he'll be back when time permits! ;)

Wed Jun 01, 07:36:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We encourage you !

Good website

Wed Jun 01, 11:21:00 AM EDT  

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