|System: PC, PSP||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Nemesys||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Nemesys||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Apr. 14, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by J. Matthew Zoss
Casual games have been on the rise for the last few years, and one sub-genre of casual gaming that's seemingly becoming more and more common is that of new games which offer a new twist on classic arcade gameplay. Not long ago I reviewed (and greatly enjoyed) a game called Shatter, which was an unapologetic update of Breakout. Now I've found myself playing Fortix, a new casual game that borrows inspiration from another old favorite, the line-drawing game Qix. While Fortix doesn't quite the same heights as Shatter, it's still a nice update to an oft-overlooked game.
The Qix formula hasn't been lifted from as often as Breakout, so there's a good chance you may never have played it. The gameplay was pretty simple: you control a cursor that draws a line behind it as it travels. Surround an area on four sides with the line (or the borders of the screen), and you claim that territory. Claim a certain percentage of the screen and you win. Of course, there are enemies that make it more challenging than it sounds, but the premise is pretty basic. Later versions of Qix (and imitators) included an image that you uncovered as you claimed space. Fortix builds on this same basic gameplay, with a few new twists to differentiate it from its inspiration. In Fortix, your main goal is slightly different; rather than simply claiming a majority of the space, you're out to capture specific locations on the board - enemy fortresses. Claim all the enemy fortresses on the stage and you've won. These fortresses are little more than flat drawings on the background image, but don't expect to capture them without a fight.
Each fortress has one or more towers that fire cannonballs at you while you navigate the screen. Not only do the cannonballs kill you if they hit your cursor (which looks like a tiny knight), they'll kill you if they hit the line you're drawing. You're safe from harm while you're resting on the borders of any claimed territory, but while you're drawing new boxes, you're always at risk. Most stages also have enemy dragons that fly around the board, and like the cannonballs, they'll kill you if they touch a line you're drawing. There are even some small dragons that travel along the lines you've drawn, chasing after your little knight. If any of these dangers so much as nicks a single pixel, you're done for. Fortunately, there are several ways to combat both the turrets and the enemies. Successfully draw a line around a turret and you'll deactivate it. Surrounding a dragon also neutralizes it, but as they move around the screen, it's hard to draw a neat little box around them. Rather, it's much simpler to trap them - the dragons can't cross any territory you've claimed, meaning that you can funnel them into smaller areas of the map, and then cordon it off with a quick capper line. Defeating dragons not only makes your goal easier to attain, it adds point bonuses to your overall score, including combos if you capture more than one at a time.
Littered around the maps are both triggers and power-ups for you to capture. Surround a trigger and a nearby catapult will launch at the nearest tower, destroying it and making your life that much easier. Power-ups grant you a variety of buffs; some freeze your enemies, others grant you a shield or increase your movement speed. The speed boost power becomes especially helpful on maps that have varied terrain types - your cursor moves more slowly across water and marsh land. As the game progresses, these varied terrain types become more common, and picking up the power-ups becomes increasingly useful.
Fortix offers up a dozen different levels tied together with a simple story about an evil dragon you must defeat. An overworld map ties the various levels together and there are several different difficulty levels to choose from, but beyond that there's not much other content to Fortix. The campaign is pretty short - you can play through most levels in two to five minutes, and the entire game only takes a couple hours to finish. Fortunately, the gameplay is simple and engaging enough that you can replay levels easily without boredom - I finished the game twice and still went back for more.