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|Rating:||4 out of 5|
Q*bert was one of those arcade games that seemed to be gender-neutral. Everyone liked him! His appeal certainly couldn't be denied by his arcade success alone, but Q*bert was also released on many home consoles as well. The ColecoVision home version is considered the most accurate port. As a puzzle game (of sorts) Q*bert brought a unique gaming experience to arcades of the mid-80s where shooters and space battles ruled the roost.
Q*bert on the Atari 2600 maintained good game play, but many of the graphics suffered to accommodate this. The 5200 version gives a much better representation of the arcade classic. Of course we can't review an Atari 5200 game without mentioning how it's awful controller minimizes a player's enjoyment.
If you read our Q*bert for the Atari 2600 game review and suffered through the lengthy discussion about rotating the joystick 45°, so the fire button is awkwardly askew from the normal way of holding the damn thing, lets discuss the suck-ass nature of the 5200 stick. You can hold the 5200 joystick any way you'd like and don't have to worry about how the motions were programmed, but you do have to press the fire button to initiate a hop and set the direction with the joystick. This 2-stroke maneuver seems counter-intuitive to how a joystick should work, but we've come to learn that "quirky" and the 5200 go together like bums & bologna sandwiches.
Offering both 1 and 2-player game options, Q*bert also let you choose how many lives to start with. The six game options are divided between singe and 2-player and then you can choose to start with 3,4 or 5 lives. With these scant options, there was not controller overlay for Q*bert. Next your off to hop from cube-to-cube changing colors from initial to destination color (shown at the side of the screen) while avoiding enemies. The seeming simplicity is complicated by Q*bert's enemies and the nature of making the colors change. ONce you've changed every cube to the destination color you advance to a new pyramid.
At the start, Q*bert is at the top of the pyramid and each hop changes the color, but as you advance in levels you'll discover that a single hop won't cut it. You'll soon have to follow combinations to change colors and then run the risk of reseting a destination color back to the starting color. Crap!
We describe the enemies below, but the Green Ball resembles enemies (Red & Purple Balls) but does no damage. However, if Q*bert catches a Green Ball, all the enemies freeze for a second letting him escape or rack up more points. When times get desperate, Q*bert can hop onto one of the flying discs at the sides of he screen and be whisked away to the safety of the pyramid's top cube.
The arcade version of Q*bert, from Gottlieb, didn't have a fire button. The mechanics of the 5200 joystick seem to necessitate the button and stick combo to get the fluffy guy to hop. If you refer to Q*bert's arcade controls, he simply had a joystick that made his diagonal leaps with that singular control. Would've been nice...
Some descending objects are benign or helpful while others are out to hunt you down or squash you!
Rounds end once all the colors have been changed. As you get deeper into the game, everyone speeds up. Q*bert is as much fun on the home consoles as he was in arcades, but the arcades of the 1980s were just grand!
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