Anyone who would claim that the Game Boy couldn’t create an atmosphere of fear has not played Qix. The slinking rows of lines, accompanied by the droning sound and random movements of the Qix, the central enemy that lends the game its name, is stressful to behold. While the gameplay of Qix is no longer original, this is one instance when the original is still the best.
|That row of lines gives me nightmares|
For the few who haven’t played this game or its many clones over the years, the goal of Qix is to fill a significant percentage of a square playing field. To do this, you draw lines to create boxes. Once the minimum percentage of play field is covered with these boxes, the level is completed. Of course, to make things interesting, there are a number of threats around that will cause you to lose a life if they come into contact with you.
Forget the bright, happy visuals and gentle learning curves of modern Qix clones, this game is brutally hard from the outset, and the cacophony of menacing sounds do not create a pleasant environment. The difficulty is twofold – there’s a very strict time limit imposed on each level and while exceeding that time limit doesn’t take away a life, it does make the nasty threats in each level even nastier.
There’s a couple of enemies that travel around the outside of the playing field and need to be avoided, but they’re not the real threat. Qix is why this game is so difficult. Touching it with the little flashing icon that represents you will result in the loss of a life. The challenge is twofold. The Qix themselves take up a lot of space in the playing field (especially from level five onwards when there are two of them), and move completely randomly. It’s impossible to guess where they’re going next, and at what speed.
Worse, getting the really high scores in the game requires you to fill in 99 per cent of the playing field. Attempting that is a genuine nightmare.
|There’s a lot of that in this game|
At the same time, it’s a compelling nightmare. Even lacking the two player game (Nintendo really needs to fix that for future Game Boy releases), Qix is a game that can hook you right in. Trying to improve your best scores is a very rewarding challenge, getting that magic 99 per cent is worth replaying the game over an over again to try and pull off, and the game still plays as well as any modern Qix clone on the market. As such, this game is right up there with the must have Virtual Console games.
Oh, and if you play really well, you’ll be rewarded with a creepy scene of Mario serenading you. I kid you not. If that isn’t reason enough to get this game, nothing is.