I grew up in the era of emerging computer technology (really, aren’t we still?). I remember my elementary school getting ONE computer – a Commodore 64, and it was stationed in our classroom. My classmates and I would make funny posters and banners out of its graphics program that would then print on long banner paper in dot matrix.
When I entered the ninth grade, there was of course, pressure to have all your assignments typed out. My Mom decided instead of investing in another typewriter, it was time to get on board and buy our home a computer. The computer of choice – a Commodore Amiga. Now, truth is, we had this computer for years (1989-1998), and the most my sister and I could do with it was 1. Type out assignments in Word Perfect and, 2. Play games. I had ramped up my computer expertise over that time period of ownership enough to know that the Amiga had quickly become obsolete. I had already moved on to learning Windows 95, and was going back to campus to print off my assignments and send email…the Amiga collected dust for about three years before I gave it away. But before I knew anything about computers, I used the Amiga as my only source of gaming.
Growing up, one of my best friends’ dad was the Amiga guru if ever there was one. He showed us the basics of how to work the computer but also introduced me to the world of casual puzzle gaming by throwing a few games on floppies for me. Two games he introduced me to – Qix and Crystal Hammer – were played obsessively. We got other games, like Capone (great gangster shoot ’em up), a scrabble-type game and a crossword game, but none were played quite as much as Qix and Crystal Hammer.
Imagine my joy when I found Qix on the Wii emulator! Starting it up brought me back to my 14-year-old self. The game is simple. You are given a black rectangle, and within it, a swirly animated graphic (called a Qix). You are armed with a diamond pointer and the power to draw lines. The objective is to draw lines, cutting the rectangle in sections to claim a majority stake of the rectangle. Once you have closed off an area of the rectangle with your lines, that area fills with a pattern, and you are given points. You are given a threshold – a percentage by which you are to fill in the rectangle – 65%, 75% – and the more you fill, the higher your score becomes. The challenge is the Qix moves unpredictably, and can’t touch your line as you are cutting the rectangle – you lose if it does. The other challenge: There are also these sparks that follow the periphery of the rectangle, and can also follow the line you are cutting the rectangle with. If it reaches your diamond point, it’s game over. The more levels you play, the more Qix in the rectangle you have to avoid, and the more sparks you have to dodge.
The game isn’t terribly sophisticated, but it’s fun, and a great time waster. I’m not sure where you could get your hands on a copy other than on an emulator, but it’s worth checking out if you are looking to kick it old school with old school casual games.
Try to locate the Crystal Hammer game anywhere, and no such luck. This game was a Commodore Amiga exclusive, and is not on any emulator that I have seen. It’s a game similar to Arkanoid – an arcade game that was also released on the NES. It plays very much like pong, in that you are given a series of tiles that you need to hit with a tiny ball. Also fun, but obviously obscure. I really liked this game.
So there you have it – a couple of old school casual games I was playing in my youth, that I still think have some longevity!
Originally Released: 1981