Retrospective: Volfied from the Arcade
By TideGear (Adam Milecki)
Once upon a time there was an action/puzzle game called Qix. It was a good and noble game and it met another action/puzzle game called Arkanoid. These two Taito games fell in love and a child game was conceived and born. That game would come to be known as the arcade game Volfied, aka Ultimate Qix or Qix Neo. Ok, so maybe that was just a weird dream I had.
Qix spawned several clones and variants including Microsoft's JezzBall, originally for Windows 3.1. The core gameplay consists of drawing lines via a ship that is only able to travel safely (for the most part) on the perimeter of the playfield. In each level, a large enemy moves, often erratically, through the playfield. The player must then venture into the playfield as they draw a line behind themself. Upon returning to the perimeter again, the space within the lines drawn will then fill in thus reducing the size of the playfield as well as altering its shape. This is made difficult by the increasingly cramped enemy who will instantly kill you upon touching you or your unfinished line. After capturing approximately 75% of the playfield, you complete the level.
It sounds a bit complicated but is actually quite simple. This is where Volfied comes in with a cool futuristic sci-fi shmup-like aesthetic, more enemies with bosses, and power-ups. Actually, a similar game called Super Qix came first (Qix had some other sequels) but it's just not quite as good. The Qix games never had enough to really hold me, but Volfied added just enough to make me a definite fan.
Several console and computer ports exist, most of which are fairly arcade faithful, except for the Genesis version (Ultimate Qix) and the Japan-only TurboGrafx-16/PC Engine version. Qix Neo for the PlayStation is my favorite port as it features an enhanced "Arrange Mode".
Volfied is yet another lesser-known arcade classic that deserves more attention. What's the deal Arkanoid? Why must you hog the limelight?