Knight Fortix 2 Review—Sequel Supreme!
Back in the old arcade days of the ’80s, one of the more popular games was Taito’s Qix. You controlled a little ship the moved around the edges of the screen and ventured forth from there to cut out slices of the playing field, while trying to avoid getting touched by something or other shooting at your path. While I never particularly liked it, apparently many developers of Minis did enjoy it, as we’ve seen a few Qix clones—Cubixx, Urbanix, and Fortix.
Besides all being inspired by Qix, they also all use the same naming scheme, the first part of the name hinting at the twist over the original Qix. In Fortix, the twist is that the thing you move around is a little knight, trying to capture forts, while being shot at by catapults and avoiding dragons flying around as dragons are wont to do. The original Fortix was very well done and well received, so it’s not too surprising that it’s been followed up by a sequel, Knight Fortix 2 (I’m not sure where the “Knight” in the name came from).
Since Fortix came out at the very start of the Minis program, I’m a bit fuzzy on it, but Knight Fortix 2 seems to play basically the same, but with added complications. Essentially you move your little knight around the border of the screen, eating up chunks of the playing field, and also changing the path from which he starts (and heads to) just like in Qix.
But one of the main goals in this is to capture catapults as part of that gamefield you grab. This will launch a counterattack at the catapults in the fort shooting at you, destroying it and preventing further assaults on you. The other key is dealing with dragons. While they are easy to avoid when the gamefield is large, when it gets small, they can prevent you from finishing the level, since they just fly constantly in the same small space. So you need to take them out early, which is done by simply capturing the area they are in (easier said than done, of course). This time around, the various types of dragons are joined by ogres as menaces you must be wary of. Ogres seem to move much slower, though, so are not as big a problem.
I don’t remember if they were in the original or not, but walls and gates are a further complication. You can’t move through walls at all; you have to move to gaps and work around them, which can be precarious. Sometimes in order to open up a gap in the wall, you first must open the gate by capturing the correct key.
You do have some help, though, as you can capture power-ups which will let you move much faster for a few seconds or keep the dragons or ogres from moving for a short time. Still, perhaps the biggest obstacle is the difficulty in seeing the rocks hurled at you. They are grey, and the screen is generally a dark color. They are also very, very tiny.
By my count, there are 17 different levels, each one getting harder, usually introducing a new power-up or obstacle. There are also a few different terrains and four difficulty levels. There’s a high score table, and it keeps track of whether you finished a level without losing a life or not. There’s also a page full of achievements to earn. So while perhaps not the longest game to play, there is good reason to go back and keep replaying levels. (Apparently, other versions have a “Zombie” Mode, but I don’t think this one does, alas)
The original Fortix apparently started out as a Mini, but this time around the PC was apparently the first target, then iOS, and then finally Minis (I’m just glad they didn’t forget about us, like certain other companies). But I guess as part of the heritage, the graphics of the game do seem somewhat smaller in scale than the original game. That is, everything is somewhat smaller, since presumably it was designed for a higher resolution and then scaled down. But as a result, the graphics are very nicely detailed, if you squint close. The music is also excellent.
Knight Fortix 2 doesn’t do anything radically different from Qix, but for me, it manages to make Qix’s basic gameplay fun, which says a lot. Really fun, I can’t remember the last time I enjoyed a Mini so much. It also has a lot of polish, from the achievements and high scores to little touches, like making different sounds depending on the terrain you’re moving through. It does what a sequel should do—refine and lengthen the experience, rather than reinvent it.