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For: iPhone

Be Qix or be dead

Product: CurveBot | Developer: Elpixo | Publisher: Elpixo | Format: iPhone | Genre: Casual, Retro | Players: 1 | Version: Europe | App version: 1.0
CurveBot iPhone, thumbnail 1
The App Store is full to bursting with original and innovative games, but there are just as many – if not more – that owe a massive debt to the classics of yesteryear. In CurveBot’s case, it’s Taito’s seminal 1981 arcade title Qix.

Playing as a cute little robot – the CurveBot of the title, no less – you need to carve up each level in order to free your ‘Fiery’ friends from their captivity. These flame-like entities are shackled to each stage and glide gracefully upwards when released.

Just as was the case in Qix, you’re given a target to hit in order to complete each stage. You do this by slicing away portions of the level using CurveBot’s blade. You’re rewarded for the size of the sections you cut away, so keeping your slice line going for as long as possible is vitally important.

Release the drones

Of course, you rarely have it all your way. Stalking around each stage are drones which will do their utmost to impede your progress. Should they make contact with CurveBot or cross over the cutting line left in his wake, the line becomes broken and the stage remains uncut.

As in Qix, you are invulnerable when on the perimeter of each level. It’s only when you’re venture into the stage itself – cutting as you go – that the pesky drones can attack you. Thankfully, you can make use of boost balls to leave them in your dust.

More help comes in the shape of Clever Coins. These are triggered when you cut the ground out from beneath them, and they imbue you with a wide range of bonuses, such as the ability to freeze drones for a short time or make your line impervious to their attacks.

What are friends for?

As the game advances you’ll have to contend with increasingly complex objectives: instead of just freeing one Fiery Friend, you often have to liberate several – and this makes things harder because they must be joined by a section of land at all times.

As you’ve probably gathered by now, CurveBot is very similar to Qix, but it does boast one key difference. In Qix, you could only move in straight lines, but, as its title suggests, in CurveBot you have the ability to cut in whichever direction you wish.

With 60 levels to conquer, CurveBot certainly doesn’t lack challenge. You’ll also find a welcome degree of variety in the drones you encounter, and end-of-level bosses spruce things up even further.

A matter of perspective

However, it’s not quite a perfect experience. Although the developer has attempted to distance this game from Qix by using a low, third-person camera, it would have been more beneficial to view the playing field from high up above.

The position of the camera makes it impossible to see when drones are behind you or about to slice over your precious line. This could of course be an effort to make the game more challenging, but it leads to needless frustration – especially on the later levels.

We also noticed that the process of triggering the boost balls – pressing both left and right arrows simultaneously – was inconsistent. Sometimes the boost would kick in, other times it would fail to register.

When all is said and done, CurveBot remains a highly playable game. If you’re a fan of Qix and have been looking forward to a proper update on the concept, then this adorable title is likely to fit the bill – in spite of its minor faults.

Reviewer photo
Damien McFerran | 15 July 2011
Taito’s Qix is reborn in this visually arresting puzzle title, but fans will have to learn to live with its rough edges in order to gain maximum enjoyment
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