I was fortunate to grow up well into the video gaming boom of the late 80s and early 90s. I didn’t have to suffer through the video game crash of 1983. By the time our family bought the first family computer, dozens upon dozens of all-time classic video games were already on the market. Fortunately for us, a small handful of classic arcade games came pre-installed on that computer. One of those games was a knockoff of the arcade classic Qix.
I remember being so intrigued by the simple yet difficult gameplay, and was quite shocked when I found there to be an arcade version of the PC game I loved. No, it was the inspiration for the PC game I loved. Visual enhancements did the game favors over time, but the simple vector-like visuals of Qix make the 1981 game still hold up well.
In Qix (which is pronounced like “Kicks”) you are tasked with dissecting a rectangular play field one area at a time by connecting one edge of the playfield to another. Using your pointer you can move along any already drawn edge, and go up, down, left, or right, to find another edge and move one step closer to your goal percentage for the stage. The kicker though is the titular Qix roaming around the stage. If you’re mid-drawing a line and the Qix hits any part of said line, you lose. It’s simple, yet deceptively hard.
Qix is one of those base concept games, back when games didn’t need huge stories, flashy visuals, or attractive game modes to entice players. It is literally one concept, repeated dozens of times in each stage, and you better get good if you wanna make it to the high score screen. Perfect for a short play session, and well worth your quarter.
The arcade cabinet features the aforementioned boxes and Qix all over the side art panels and overlays. A simple joystick controller and two buttons, one for fast drawing and one for slow drawing, are all that adorn the controls. Since there isn’t an enemy list like you’d find in other classic arcade games like Pac-Man or Q*Bert, there isn’t anything else in the game you need to stylize on the cabinet. It’s legit just some boxes and lines. Simplicity at its finest.
The gameplay of Qix has been ported and replicated in dozens of other video games. Notably, Jezzball on PC (the game I played), a questionably high amount of erotic video games where you reveal scantily clad women, and most recently Pretty Girls Panic! which saw release on PS5 and modern consoles. I wonder if the designers knew their game idea would be used for such nefarious purposes.
Played at Galloping Ghost Arcade in Brookfield, IL 2019