Title: Qix
Developer: Taito
Publisher: Taito
Year: 1981
Platforms: Arcade, Atari 5200, Commodore 64, Apple IIGS, Nintendo Game Boy, NES, Atari Lynx
Genre: Arcade
Players: One or two players (taking it in turns)

Released by Taito in 1981, Qix is a unique arcade game. While it bears a striking resemblance to an Etch-a-Sketch, it is in fact a fast, addictive game that has nothing to do with creative drawing.

Your goal is to claim at least 75% of the play area. You do this by making a sort of spider web that automatically gets coloured in. Your only enemies are the Sparx, which travel around the edge of your web and kill you by touching you, and the Qixes, which move freely within the part of the play area you haven't claimed yet and kill you by touching a new thread you're still making.

The first few levels only have one Qix each, but on later levels there are two Qixes, enabling you to complete the level by separating them into different parts of the play area by creating a thread in between them.

The scoring system works well: you get more points for building your web slowly (which leaves the new thread exposed to the Qix for longer), for separating two different Qixes, or for claiming more than the minimum 75% of the screen (which can tempt you into making very bold moves right next to the deadly Qix).

The Qix itself is one of the most fiendish enemies I've seen in a game: mostly content to wander around aimlessly, it will occasionally dart from one side of the screen to the other in order to catch you off guard. Trying to work out when and where it's safe to create new threads, and when to run for cover, is what makes Qix so exciting.

As each generation of computer games becomes more elaborate than the last, it's easy to overlook some of the lesser known golden age titles such as this quirky game. It was never as popular as the iconic Pac-man or Space Invaders, and wasn't helped by Atari releasing it on their ill-fated 5200 and Lynx consoles instead of their more popular 2600.

This game has been ported to popular consoles, however, making it relatively easy to find second hand. Personally, I like the Game Boy version as it remains faithful to the original arcade game yet scraps the odd colour scheme due to the console's monochrome screen.

Qix is easily as addictive as Asteroids or Centipede, and it won't ruin your trigger finger. If you like the innovative arcade games of the eighties, this is up there with the best of them.