Itâ€™s universally acknowledged that the best arcade games are the ones with a simple but catchy game mechanic. Take Qix, released thirty years ago by publisher Taito. The name of the game in Qix was to try and claim as much territory as possible, by drawing shapes on an otherwise blank playing space. The difficulty was in trying to do so without being struck, mid-shape, by a large, erratically-moving stick in the middle of the field. Simple, but addictive too: Qix has been ported and re-skinned a fair number of times over the years [Like the excellent, and recent Patchwork Heroes on PSP - Ed.]
One of those new takes on the game was the PSP title Fortix, released at the end of 2009. Though completely visually re-vamped, with a new fantasy setting and the introduction of forts that shot projectiles at the player as they tried to draw their shapes, the Qix legacy still lived on, to the delight of old and new fans everywhere.
Fortix 2 is out now - currently available on PC via Steam, and expected to be released on consoles and handhelds (including phones), very soon. Like the original, the setting is fantasy-based, with the different levels arranged on a map of a country, that you, as the brave Sir Fortix, are trying to take back from the evil wizard Xitrof.
The shape-drawing strategy is still here, as Sir Fortix moves across the top-down map of an area, claiming bite-size pieces of territory in order to inch closer to reclaimable objects. Sir Fortix is untouchable as long as heâ€™s standing on his â€˜base lineâ€™, that is, the outline of his already-reclaimed territory. Once he attempts to draw a new shape, however, heâ€™s vulnerable to any sort of attack. Forts shoot flaming arrows, that will kill Sir Fortix if they hit him, or any part of the the unfinished shape heâ€™s drawing.
The aim is usually to take down the forts themselves, by claiming catapults that in turn blast the fortsâ€™ turrets into smithereens, but there are other objects scattered around the map, such as keys that unlock gates, power-ups that can make Sir Fortix fly, or shield him for a short period of time. There are also dragons, ogres, ballistas, and magic towers that send out the mystical equivalent of heat-seeking missiles.
Itâ€™s clever, and though early levels are pretty straightforward, later ones will take multiple tries to get through, though all up youâ€™re looking at a handful of hours to complete the entire game. Harder settings are unlocked after reaching the end however, so donâ€™t expect this one to gather dust after the first run-through.
Itâ€™s still important to stress that this is a casual game, and quite likely to be more enjoyable when played on the run (for this reason I think itâ€™ll be great on phones), in bite-sized playing times, as extended periods can start to feel repetitive. Still, for $10 US on Steam, Fortix 2 is a good â€˜un, definitely worth adding to the collection.