i don’t know where i heard about the game boy game qix (pronounced “kicks” apparently), but somehow i had gotten it into my head that it would be a fun old-school puzzle-type game. it is indeed one of the earliest GB games, but calling it a “puzzle” game would be fairly misleading: the game is, in fact, really an arcade type of game where you have a single screen and an icon that you move around to draw lines to block off sections of the board. (see the the article at wikipedia for more info on the game’s mechanics.)
i went through a funny progression with the game. when i first started i really couldn’t see the point of it, but once i got used to the premise i was rather enjoying myself, but then fairly soon after that my interest waned to the point where i had to put it aside. in terms of gameplay the central feature that’s so off-putting initially is the fact that you start with a completely empty rectangular board every stage, which makes it hard to feel like you’re making progress. and although the stages supposedly get more challenging as the enemies get faster and become more aggressive, the gameplay itself stays exactly the same and your tactics don’t change at all. of course this is generally true of all classic arcade games, but the main game element that sapped my interest is the fact that you only get the game’s biggest bonus if you “capture” 99% of the screen (75% is the minimum). it’s not too hard to get in the high 90’s every time, but waiting and trying to get 99% every time just gets tedious. it’s like the difference between playing pac-man and gobblin’ some ghosts, and playing pac-man and having to get every single ghost every time. but of course that analogy is only a casual one since in pac-man the difference in score between getting a few ghosts versus getting them all isn’t nearly as huge as the difference in qix between getting 98% of the board completed vs 99%. i’m sure there are many fans of the game out there who find that the thrill of chasing that 99% is central to the game’s fun and who are probably quite good at accomplishing it with the minimal amount of waiting, but i’m just too impatient a gamer to ever hope to join their ranks.
so all in all an entertaining-enough experience, if much more short-lived than i had anticipated. it turns out this is another nintendo R&D1 game, and incidentally it’s the nintendo game boy game that was released immediately after solar striker (well, in japan at least; not sure about elsewhere), which i also recently played. i actually only have a few more of their game boy games to play, so being the completist that i am i’ll probably try to track those down and give ’em a whirl sooner than later. it seems there have been a few qix remakes over the years, some of which may be worth checking out, so i’ll keep my eye out for those as well. maybe. in any case playing the game wasn’t a total loss as there were some highly entertaining mario cameos, including mario in a sombrero, as an african warrior, and as a matador. haha. 😉
quick qix links:
– entry at strategywiki of the game in general, with extensive strategies
– FAQ, also outlining strategies, at gamefaqs
– screenshots of four of the endings at themushroomkingdom.net featuring the aforementioned mario cameos. and here’s a youtube video of the best ending.
– on a related note, here’s a random sheet of the sprites
– PDF of instruction manual at replacementdocs.com
– hilarious commercial. first of all, it’s bizarre that they even made a commercial for such a non-action-packed game (although it seems that the game sold very well, perhaps riding on the tetris craze). and i like how the commercial gives you absolutely no idea how the game actually plays.
– scans of the box art at the game boy database
– official japanese site