Total time played: 1 hour
Short review: An unappreciated NES puzzle classic that is addictive, fun and rewarding while also keeping you on the edge of your seat.
Interesting links related to Qix
- Qix high score run by Playing For Points (4min 50sec) (131,226 points)
- Video Review (Retro-Matric Gamer)
When my family got our first computer in 1996 I spent way too many hours playing the game Jezzball that came on the computer. It was a simple puzzle game where you would draw lines with your mouse to trap balls that were bouncing around the screen. It was just a fun relaxing game to play after a long day of school.
I have been familiar with the game Qix for a long time but after 20 years of collecting NES games have just recently added it to my collection. It isn’t particularly rare or expensive, I just had never seen it in person to buy. From watching gameplay footage I always expected it to play a lot like Jezzball, and I was right.
Qix follows a very similar gameplay structure to Jezzball but actually has a bit more strategy involved. Instead of trying to trap bouncing balls you are trapping a bouncing Qix which looks like a bunch of rotating lines. The Qix cannot hit you when you are not drawing a line but if it hits you or your line while it is being drawn you lose a life. On top of avoiding the Qix you also have to avoid what appear to be sparks that travel around the edge of each line you draw. Unlike the Qix these sparks can hit you when you are not drawing a line. If you draw a line and pause before finishing it the line acts as a bomb fuse and causes you to explode. As you progress farther into the game there are multiple Qix and multiple sparks as well as other floating objects that will kill you if you hit them and give you extra points if you trap them.
The goal of the game is to draw lines and boxes on the screen to cover a certain percentage of the screen. The first few levels require 65% coverage but as you move up in level you must cover 70, 75, 80, or 85% of the game board to move on.
When drawing a line there are two ways to do it. Draw by holding the A button to move quickly or draw by holding the B button to move slowly. Using the B button gets you more points but is more dangerous. The strategy I found was to make a bunch of small boxes stretching almost across the screen using the quick draw A button and then closing in the final small space with the slow draw B button to maximize points.
Getting a high score is the name of the game is so the more points you earn the better. For each percentage of the screen you clear over the required amount you earn 1,000 points. The most I ever got was 25,000 points for clearing 90% of the first stage when only 65% was required.
If there are two Qix on the screen and you draw a line separating them the stage ends regardless of how much of the screen is cleared. Your reward for doing this is that your points double going forward, if you do it again your points triple. I assume they quadruple if you do it a 3rd time but I never did that to test my theory.
There is no end to the game and I could see myself playing this for hours and hours and never get sick of it so I decided once I beat the computer high score of 100,000 I would consider it beaten. Googling the game I couldn’t find any scores higher than about 135,000 but there is no way that is correct because I am not very good at the game so I should not be so close to the world record. However, the game is one no one talks about so maybe no one really ever gave it a chance to master.
Qix is a lot of fun, fast paced, makes you think (but not too much) and is a game that you get a little better at each time you play it. I would definitely consider this an NES hidden gem.