Atari 5200 Review: QIX

by Atari

Qix Pic 1
Taito's Qix may not have had the legs necessary to succeed as an arcade game but it nonetheless represents everything that a good coin-op should be. It features futuristic graphics, and a fair dose of strategy is necessary to become competent at this game.

The bottom line is that Qix -- like Ladybug, Venture and Space Dungeon -- is exactly the sort of game that just aches for home translation, where gamers get the chance to sit down and learn the types of tactics and skill necessary to conquer it without the annoying need to dump token after token into a hungry coin-op machine. Atari obviously realized Qix's potential as a home videogame star when they acquired the home videogame and computer rights to this cult-classic.

Qix was the first major "block drawing" contest, but unlike the bulk of games in this genre (Amidar, Pepper II, Gal's Panic), the gameplay is totally free-form. You need to build squares and rectangles, at two speeds, scoring points for each portion of the playfield pre-emptied by their two-dimensional geometric figures. Meanwhile, a series of closely-spaced parallel lines, known as "Stix", wander freely around the screen, destroying any unfinished boxes it comes in contact with. On the early screens, the object is to either to fast or slow-draw enough boxes (slow-draw being worth more points) to fill in the predetermined percentage of the playfield without being destroyed by the Stix or the equally dangerous "Fuses". Fuses chase the player along its own perimeter the instant the "Qix" or drawing-point stops moving while in the process of constructing a box. Once a box is completed it fills up in either blue (fast drawn) or orange (slow-drawn), and the point value is immediately totalled.

Qix Pic 2
But the fun doesn't begin until the higher levels. The game then throws you a curve by sending out a SECOND Stix. At this point you're faced with one of two options. Either you continue playing as before, attempting to elude the twin killers, or work at drawing a line so as to split the pair by dividing the playfield. Each time the Stix are split, the point value is numerically increased by a single-digit exponent -- doubled, tripled, then quadrupled, etc. We recommend that you try the latter strategy as it not only allows you to rack up more points, but it also provides a greater challenge.

Atari's Qix for the 5200 is a tremendous coin-op translation, offering a perfectly stylized duplication of the original graphics, right down to the lettering. The 5200 version is also evidence that the SuperSystem is not just merely an 800 without the keyboard. 5200 Qix is faster, point totals are counted with high speed precision, and boxes, once constructed, are colored in instantaneously, unlike its 8-bit counterpart. Furthermore, the Atari computer version does not have the luxury of 2-button control, thereby eliminating the strategy element of fast-draw and slow-draw.

Test your mind and reflexes with one of the deeper games from the classic era.

Title Qix
Publisher Atari
System Atari 5200 SuperSystem
Graphics 8
Sound 6
Gameplay 8
Overall 8
Reviewer Keita Iida

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