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. Then bring up the beautiful fact that 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, 25 years ago.
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. You are alerted to how many percent that section represented and reminded of 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.
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 but 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.
Qix 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 and various computer platforms in between its debut and the Nintendo Game Boy release. Nintendo has put their own spin on Qix, something they are quite well known for as they did something similar with their release of Alleyway (Breakout) also on the Game Boy.
It seemed that the Game Boy was the testing ground for Nintendo, a company that has never been all that keen on putting their characters in games outside their own. What I mean is, while 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). Mario makes a couple of cameos in this release of Qix, mainly in cut scenes but that is better than Alleyway where his presence was limited to the title screen and the box.
If you are a fan of Qix, check outfor this game on various platforms.