Volfied by Taito
Qix was a fun, original arcade game by Taito released in 1982 where the player had to draw lines in a playfield, avoiding the Stix and Sparx that if touched would elimnate the player. Completing a line would result in the enclosed area filling up with a color and the point of the game was to fill up 75% of each board. Volfied is like an update/sequel to Qix, with a similar concept but with some enhancements that actually make it a better game including a throw away sci-fi storyline that can be read when the game begins.
As mentioned the way the game plays is quite similar to the classic game Qix but the differences improve the game to the point that it’s the preferable title to pick up and play. With a large playfield to cover, the play controls a ship that must draw lines through the playfield, completely connecting them to another line. Once this is done, the enclosed area fills in with a graphic different than the playfield background and the player can continue on doing this until 80% or more of the playfield is covered. While in this game just uses various weird sci-fi style backgrounds for effect, the same concept in gameplay was used a year later in the soft-porn game Gals Panic (not by Taito though). Making the task of of covering the playfield difficult for the player is the presence of both large and small enemies that replace the Stix and Sparx from Qix. As Volfied follows a sci-fi storyline, the enemies are generally aliens of some kind that change in appearance and behavior with each level. Smaller enemies can be killed off by enclosing them when you draw the lines, earning bonus points for each enemy destroyed. It takes a little bit of strategy to do this at times but that is part of the fun. If the enemies touch you ship or hit it with energy bolts while you’re out an about drawing things, it will weaken your shields. Once the shields hit 0, it’s game over man. But wait, there’s more!
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One does not have to complete a level by killing of the little bugs but since it earns the player bonus points it’s worth trying out (and fun for some strange reason – it must be the explosions). To further spice things up in the game, they added power-ups from speeding your ship up temporarily to blessing you with a cannon that can destroy just about anything that gets within it’s path. Power-ups show up when you encase a playfield block within your enclosed area (sorry, can’t think of a better name for it as that sounds like something from a credit card commercial – “What’s in your enclosed area?”) The blocks usually will hinder you, depending on their placement in the playfield as they can’t be connected to, so you must draw around them. It seems that most of the time that something bad happens to you, it’s near one of these obstacles due to this. Cruel yes, but that’s the game.
One thing that does turn off many players to Volfied is that it is rather difficult, even if you have good Qix skills (if those are to be considered a real skill set. I’m sure that it’s something that the ladies look for 😛 ). Despite that, it’s fun enough to keep you coming back for more but as to how many levels this game has it’s hard to say as I have not had the pleasure of completing the game yet.
Qix didn’t stand out in 1982 and while there is nothing that would make Volfied really stand out in ’89 it does look pretty good for the time. There is no slow down at any time, it can throw a decent number of sprites on the screen without flicker and some of the “boss characters” can grow to quite a large size on the screen (having large sprites used in your game was the rage back in the day, much like numbers of polygons, resolution of textures or style of lighting effects are important today).
Volfied has some nice tunes with a good beat to play to. It never is annoying and the sounds are quite good with a perfect balance in both bass and treble.
Taito usually didn’t make cabinets that were meant to really stand out in a crowd and Volfied wasn’t any exception to that rule. It was housed in a standard upright cabinet without much artwork to make it that appealing. The marquee is a little strange with a weird looking dragon floating above the Volfied logo.
I like this game – it’s fun, requires a little bit of strategy and while it’s hard it’s also addicting so giving it another chance despite the difficulty is quite easy. Many versions of the game hit the different computers at the time, from DOS PC, to Atari ST, Amiga, the Commodore 64 and even a few consoles such as the Genesis and TurboGrafx-16. It also showed up on Taito Legends 1 for the PS2 and Xbox.