Tell a modern gamer that you want them to play a game where they are completely defenseless against enemies. Also mention that you have no weapons at your disposal, at all. You must somehow reclaim large portions of the playfield to move to the next level. Yes, I am talking about Qix, a title that hit the Nintendo Game Boy today, in 1990.
Qix is simple to learn
Moving around the screen your character will leave a line behind him. You must connect straight lines to the game perimeter to complete a section. The game tells you how many percent each section you claim represented. It also tells you how much you need to advance to the next level. There is a large enemy in the playfield that, if it touches an unfinished line, will cost you a life. Your only defense against it is to not be caught mid line. Later levels bring in little enemies that travel on YOUR lines with you. You simply have to avoid these guys to keep advancing. This can get nerve wracking as you advance in the game. That is the fun of these games though, pushing through that frustration level and still advancing.
Minimalist platform, minimalist game
The original Game Boy was not exactly a powerhouse in the graphics department, which is quite the understatement. Sure, Nintendo could make it hum with hits like Super Mario Land 2: Six Golden Coins and other titles. For the most part, the Game Boy languished in the “just not enough” zone. That left developers with a unique challenge, what do we release on this new portable? The classics of course. What is old is new again.
So simpleQix is one of the original classic titles that is deceptively simple while be annoyingly hard at the same time. Qix hit the arcades sometime in 1981. Then various computer platforms in between its debut and the Nintendo Game Boy release. Nintendo has put their own spin on Qix. They did something similar with their release of Breakout (Alleyway) also on the Game Boy.
It seemed that the Game Boy was the testing ground for Nintendo. They were never all that keen on putting their characters in games outside their own. Nintendo will put Mario in a Golf or Baseball game they don’t usually do it with games owned by others. Qix is a Taito original for anyone keeping track. Mario makes a couple of cameos in this release of Qix. Mainly in cut scenes. That is better than Alleyway where his presence was limited to the title screen and the box.
This article was originally published on Retro Gaming Magazine.