I get a Qix out of you!
Anyone who frequented amusement arcades in the early ‘80s will no doubt remember Taito’s classic Qix (pronounced “Kicks”), a rather strange but furiously addictive strategy puzzle game. While others out there may recall Qix’s conversions and clones for the home market such as the imaginatively named Kix for the BBC Micro (a fave of mine at school!) or the rather pornographic Gals Panic games (which saw you uncovering a series of scantily clad ladies). If you didn’t already figure it out, this game is the sequel to Qix – and it hit the arcades a massive 8 years after the original in 1989. Some of our readers may know this game better under its western name – Volfied. It was under this title that it received conversions to the Atari ST, PC and Amiga computers, but many aren’t aware that there are also a couple of console ports under a different name (the other being the PC Engine). Ultimate Qix upgrades everything from the original title while also managing to retain the same addictive and compulsive gameplay. So let’s see how this Mega Drive/Genesis version stacks up shall we?
Like Qix, the aim of the game is to claim a certain percentage of the screen by way of drawing boxes while avoiding the giant Qix and his two Sparx, which zip around the edge of the screen and follow your lines. But now the Qix is no longer just a bunch of lines – he is now a giant animated beast, themed to each level. These themed forms include giant crabs, winding snakes and even a clutching fist trying to smash you! There are also other smaller enemies bouncing around the screen to make it even harder and trapping them gains you some nice extra bonus points. By drawing around the cubes you can arm your little craft with power-ups such as lasers, a speed-up or the very useful freeze, which stops enemies in their tracks and allows you to quickly draw round them for extra score. Rather than just the plain coloured box fill of the original game, Ultimate Qix starts to reveal sections of the next stage as you block off the screen, which is a really nice effect. The themes of these stages, and the enemies that inhabit them, are both varied and interesting. Examples of these include: sea stages with giant crabs and lobsters; the desert with sand beetles and scorpions; and the jungle with snakes and lizards. Just like the original game, you get extra points awarded at the end of each stage for getting above the required percentage and, of course, a ranking on the high score table.
Ultimate Qix is not going to blow you away in the graphics department, but it is a huge improvement over the original game. It is colourful, fast moving and has some nice detail on the enemies. It also gets pretty hectic at times, without any slowdown to mar the frantic fun. In the audio department there are some decent tunes and sound effects. Again, nothing aurally amazing here, but the soundtrack suits the game perfectly. It’s gameplay where Ultimate Qix is the real winner, as I think I have probably returned to this game more than any other in my vast Mega Drive collection. To say this game is addictive would actually be a gross understatement!
It may have taken its time arriving, but Ultimate Qix is a more than worthy sequel – and it will keep you coming back for just one more go time after time. If you own a Mega Drive or Genesis then I would say this is a must have game – and one that is well worth purchasing no matter what the price.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: Sega Mega Drive (reviewed), Atari ST, PC Engine, Commodore Amiga, PC; Publisher: Taito ; Developer: Taito ; Players: 1 ; Released: 16/09/2016 ; ESRB: N/A ; MSRP: N/A