Friday, September 7, 2012

Game of the Day - Ixion

Another sad story - Ixion is a prototype that apparently never saw the light of day - and it's a shame.

Ixion is a maze/shooter/puzzler with a four-way joystick to control your movement and a dial/spinner to aim your gun (and a button to fire it).  So, to play it well in MAME, you would do well not only to have a spinner, but also one with switches in it like the push/pull spinner I have mentioned before.  It makes all of these types of games more playable.  Alternately, you could use buttons to rotate left and right and another to fire, or use an Xbox 360 controller, but the spinner would be best.

So, you drive up, down, left and right on the tiles to collect the letters that spell "Ixion".  Do so, and the round is over and you go to a bonus round. However, there are all sorts of things that fuck up your plans on the way.

Tiles can be missing and more can go missing.  You can't drive where the tiles are missing and therefore have to go around.  Luckily, there is a device on the playfield with you that repairs the tiles when it drives over the empty spaces.  YOU control this device by hitting it with gunfire.  It doesn't get destroyed, it simply moves from the energy of your fire and repairs tiles as it goes.  Hit it with fire to make it go where you want - but watch out, if it runs into YOU, it kills you.  (By the way, your gunfire ricochets off of walls - so you have that going for you)

And speaking of being killed, there are enemies all over the place.  They scoot around the grid firing at you and you have to avoid their fire and destroy them with your own fire.  Interestingly, while you can't drive over empty spaces in the tiles, the gunfire has no such restrictions, so you need to watch out at all times for attacks.

Remember that your goal is to collect the tiles to spell "Ixion".  You can only get them one at a time.  Get the "I" and the "x" materializes, etc...  At the beginning of the round, the game shows you where all the tiles are going to appear, you just can't see/get any of them until you get the previous one.  Take too long, and another evil device comes out and starts destroying more tiles (again, you can hit the other thing to go repair them).  In fact, in one game, the "n" was completely isolated in that all the tiles around it were destroyed and I could not reach it.  I had to hit the little repair vehicle with gunfire to knock it over to the "n" and repair the adjacent tiles. (See the pic on the right)

Finish a round by spelling "Ixion" and you go to the bonus round.  In a timed sequence, you have to hit the little repair vehicles to repair as many tiles as you can until the clock runs out.  It starts all black and you get a quick glimpse of where the repairers are.  Blast them and they start taking off and repairing all the tiles.  Bonuses are based on how many you get repaired. Then, it's on to the next, different-looking and tough playing level.

It's a totally different and brilliant challenge.  It's got several things I love in a game including innovative goals, fast and infinite gameplay, and most of all, an interesting control scheme.

Play it and you'll long for the days of trackballs and spinners.

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