Retro Coin Op Synopsis
At the start of the “cute” revolution, with games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong ruling the arcades, Taito released an abstract, minimalist game called Qix (pronounced “kicks”). Featuring a simple, diamond-shaped marker for a hero and a swirling mass of lines as a an enemy, Qix didn’t draw any crowds with its graphics, but it more than made up for its lack of showiness with its innovative drawing/puzzle gameplay.
The object of Qix was to draw solid boxes on a rectangular background, filling in the screen a piece at a time. Using your diamond marker, you could choose either the “Fast Draw” or “Slow Draw” button to venture out into the blackness and draw your box. The slower you drew, the more points you earned, but there were several dangers to this approach.
First was the Qix itself, the mass of red and green lines that bounced around the screen. If the Qix hit your box-in-progress, you lost a life. The Qix always stayed inside the black area (your boxes filled in with blue or a brownish-orange), so the more you filled in, the more dangerous the game became. Once you captured at least 75% of the screen, a new level began.
There were other dangers roaming the Qix screen as well. Sparx traveled along lines, chasing down your marker to deliver a lethal shock. And if you managed to draw yourself into an inescapable corner (which the game dubbed a “spiral death trap”), a Fuse would burn toward you, killing on contact.
Qix’s free-form drawing made each game a new experience, and players soon became addicted to the ever-increasing challenge (the game got faster and enemies multiplied as the levels wore on). Unfortunately, that success was short-lived, as the puzzle game boom wouldn’t arrive until Tetris hit the U.S. in 1987. That same year, Super Qix was released, adding new backgrounds and other graphical treats to the original.
A final installment, Twin Qix, debuted in 1995, allowing two players to compete on one screen. Even with the revamped game, Qix never really got its due, playing second fiddle to the other puzzle games released after Tetris’ mammoth success. Still, this puzzle pioneer remains a favorite of many, and an endless number of home conversions and computer clones have helped ensure that players will still be getting their kicks from Qix for years to come.
Arcade Machine Release History1981 - Qix
1987 - Super Qix
1995 - Twin Qix