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QIX 5200 (Atari)

DoctorSpuds

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Qix is a fun little arcade game than seems to defy any standard one would care to throw at it. Qix was an arcade release from Taito back in 1981 and by all accounts it was a modest success and it was all about drawing rectangles, hmmm. Qix was very slow to reach a home audience with the first home releases being for the Atari 5200 and 8-Bit computer line in 1983 with it finally reaching other consoles and computers in 1989 and into the early 1990’s, the Apple ][ version didn’t come out until 1989, 12 years after the computer was released. Qix it seems was a late bloomer, but it seems that it has gained perhaps a cult following as games bearing the Qix name have been released as recently as 2011. I only have the 5200 version of Qix, so that’s what I’ll be reviewing, I can probably also play the 8-Bit version on my Atari 800 but they’re identical apart from some slight control tweaking on account of the 5200’s unique controller.

 

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Qix is a frugal game, both in graphics and sounds. It only displays what is necessary and will only play sounds if it needs to, and since most of the graphical element the game does have tie in directly with the gameplay I will just condense this down to a single paragraph.

 

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In Qix your one goal is to section off a certain percentage of the screen without getting destroyed. In order to section off the screen you must draw lines and connect them with the border of the screen or other shapes you’ve created to create rectangles and various other shapes, once you’ve created the shape it then gets filled in and the edge becomes the new border of the screen. In order to keep things from getting too easy you will be contending with the randomly moving Qix, a series of strange lines that flits across the screen, and the two Sparx that will move along the border and will destroy you on contact. Eluding the Sparx is fairly simple as they will only move along the border but not along the lines you’ve drawn before they get filled in, you can just draw a rectangle around them. To keep you from cheating the game by just drawing a line and waiting there, or just moving back along a line the Fuse will appear and begin chasing you along the line, it will go away when you complete the shape. As the game goes on the difficulty will ramp up, fairly soon there will be two Qix to contend with and they will only get more and more erratic until all your lives are gone and it’s time to try again.

 

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Qix, despite being so simple, nails the ‘one more time’ mentality perfectly. Every time I lose I feel like I have to try again, to see if I can get a little bit further or try a new strategy I hadn’t thought about before. Qix is a masterpiece in gameplay above all else. Qix is an incredibly common game for the 5200 and 8-Bit computers with loose copies starting at less than six dollars for the 5200 version and less than ten dollars for the 8-Bit version. You don’t really need this game in the box as the game is so simple and straightforward that it would only be a waste of space.

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I agree about Qix; it's a timeless classic that defies classification but that has always been one of my favorites.  The ability to draw lines in two different ways (aided by the two action buttons on the 5200 controller) adds an interesting element of strategy: drawing blue lines is faster but earns fewer points, while drawing red lines earns more points but is slower and leaves you more vulnerable to the Qix.  So at any given time, you can play it safe, or you can risk being greedy.

 

One slight correction: the 5200 version of Qix was (unofficially) converted to the 8-bit computers later, but the official 1982 version of Qix that Atari shipped for the 8-bit computers was quite different.  (See the screenshots of this version on Atarimania.)  That's the one that I played the most growing up, and it's a passable enough version, but the game action—particularly the fill routines after closing off a section or being zapped by an enemy—are considerably slower, and it really drags down the momentum of the game.

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2 hours ago, jaybird3rd said:

One slight correction: the 5200 version of Qix was (unofficially) converted to the 8-bit computers later, but the official 1982 version of Qix that Atari shipped for the 8-bit computers was quite different.  (See the screenshots of this version on Atarimania.)  That's the one that I played the most growing up, and it's a passable enough version, but the game action—particularly the fill routines after closing off a section or being zapped by an enemy—are considerably slower, and it really drags down the momentum of the game.

 

Yes, I realized that soon after I posted the review and was closing my tabs. Oops, oh well, either way, its Qix, its still fun either way. 

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Another reason why the Atari 5200 was far better than the reviews on Youtube.
The same reviews from today's generation just trying to make a buck.

The A5200 ROCKED in my opinion and I had several over the years and is still my favorite of the series.

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Also while Taito licensed versions of Qix (except for the Atari and oddly enough also Fujitsu FM-7) may have been delayed until 1989, of course there were clones earlier on. For instance on the C64, back in 1983 there were both Stix by Supersoft and Rollerball by Ocean Software. Micro Power released Frenzy in 1984 (not to be confused with the Stern arcade game also published on Colecovision). Windmill Software also released Styx for PC DOS/Booter in 1984, plus a PD/noncommercial game called Xonix for the PC in 1984. Apparently Taito didn't cash in on the trend early on.

 

Perhaps I should try to look up a version of Night Flight for the MSX or Tomy Tutor, which seems to be a Qix clone with a twist.

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