Friday, September 6, 2019

Game 87: Qix

I… don’t get this game.

I understand the rules fine. There is a space on the screen occupied by a psychedelic entity called the Qix, which flutters about its territory. You control a cursor that can freely move around the perimeter of the Qix’s territory, and can enter the space to draw lines and form shapes, but if the Qix touches any of your lines while you’re still drawing, it kills you. Once you return to the perimeter, then you claim any space that your lines fenced in, and it becomes a barrier to the Qix and the lines you drew become part of your perimeter. There are also multiple enemies called Sparx which circumference the perimeter, forcing you every now and then to draw or die. Two buttons are used for drawing lines, one makes you move you fast, one makes you move slow, and any shapes drawn only with slow lines will be highlighted red and worth double points.

Your goal, on the first two levels, is to claim 75% or more of the Qix’s territory, which ends the level. Big bonus points are awarded for each percent beyond that, but the last big chunk has to be claimed in one motion. On level 3 onward, you have to deal with two Qix, and can win the normal way, or you can win by separating them into two compartments and double your score, but if you don’t claim much territory then you won’t get many points, and doubling a small score is still a small score.

I even understand some strategy, in theory. Claiming the Qix’s territory chunk-by-chunk until you meet the winning threshold is a fool’s gambit. The more territory you claim, the less room you have to maneuver, and the less distance the Sparx have to travel in order to reach you. Furthermore, it’s risky to claim chunks from the Qix’s turf, so you’ll want to move fast to minimize your risk, but if you grab big chunks with fast movement, you lose out on points. It’s much better to draw long, narrow rectangles to ensnare the Qix into a small zone with a small exit, get it stuck, and then seal off its exit with the slow draw to score a huge red zone worth loads of points.

But in practice, I just don’t get it. To trap the Qix into a small enough area to win the level, you eventually have to encroach into its territory to box it in, and I just don’t see a better way to do this than to repeatedly move into its territory while the Qix is moving away from you, draw a small box inwards to partition the space further, and just hope the Qix doesn’t slam into you while you do this. Whenever I tried to build elaborate mazes, as Qix strategy guides suggest, it would just twirl around in its comfort zone, never quite moving into any of the passageway traps I constructed. And the longer I spent on a level, the harder it got to keep avoiding the Sparx.

My best attempt beat two levels with a good bonus, split the Qix in the third level with a mediocre score, and then sealed in the Qix in level 4 together for a good area bonus at a 2x multiplier but with no additional multiplier. Then I failed on the fifth level. This was one of many, many attempts, and whenever I beat a level with a good score, it didn’t feel like I had formulated a good strategy, but rather it felt like the Qix just happened to be cooperative.


  1. Don't worry too much about expert strategies for maximizing points and focus more on making safe moves. The kind of tactics you find in guides are more for experienced players with a solid grasp on how the Qix moves.

  2. I don't know the protocol here -- are you wanting "hints"?

    1. Share your thoughts and insights freely. I don't know that I'll replay Qix any time soon, but I'd be happy to learn anything that I didn't already know or pick up on by myself.

      More generally, I'd encourage ROT13 for spoiler masking. Your discretion on what counts as a spoiler, but for Qix I don't think this would be an issue.

  3. I had a very similar experience with Qix. The concept is cool but my scores hit a wall before very long... if there's any way to predict the sudden Qix movements, I'm not seeing it.

  4. The strategy in Qix is all about risk management and patience since the Qix itself is unpredictable. Getting to the next level is better than getting absolute maximum points in this level if it costs you a life. Especially since you can stack up the bonus multipliers for splitting Qixes.


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