Q*bert

Q*bert Review

The game that will make you say @!#?@!

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PlayStation 3 on

ESRB Everyone rating

Although it is often referenced, Q*bert remains an obscure retro arcade game that's both strange and frustrating. This version of Q*bert is basically a port of the original arcade game with clean visuals and very few additions.

Q*bert screenshot 1
How did this ever get past the censors?

Q*bert is played on a triangular field where the titular character will hop from cube to cube in order to change their colour. This must be done while avoiding hopping off the edge of the playfield. New players may find themselves doing this often until their skills improve. Once every cube is changed to the desired colour, the round is complete and you'll move on to the next one. This is easier said than done since there are many tricky enemies and hazards that will get in your way. Once Q*bert comes in contact with an enemy, he will get really mad and swear. You probably will, too.

The graphics are as simple as you would expect. Colours are distinguishable and all characters and objects are easy to spot. The pseudo-3D cubes that compose the playfields look sharp and are therefore easily navigable. The on-screen display tells players the goal colour of the current round which will help greatly in later rounds. A frame is placed around the action and it looks fun although it can be distracting and it can't be turned off. There is absolutely no music in Q*bert which is true to the original but the game seems empty without any. Sound effects are quirky and add quite a lot of enjoyment to the experience.

Controls in Q*bert are simple. Players only need to use the stick to move the little guy around. Since Q*bert moves diagonally, the controls work well and are a welcome change considering many previous iterations of Q*bert require you to use the D-pad. Players can also choose to control the action using Sixaxis motion controls. Why anyone would want to do this is beyond me. Luckily, this is just an option. Timing becomes a necessary skill to avoid enemies since both Q*bert and his enemies hop rhythmically. Timing and planning each hop to cover as much ground as possible while avoiding enemies can be incredibly difficult and cause a lot of frustration.

Q*bert screenshot 2
Changing every square's colour multiple times feels like a chore

As rounds progress, players will be taken to new levels where new mechanics and enemies are introduced. Enemies include blobs that only move down, a snake that chases you around, and a couple of gremlin-looking dudes that hop along the sides of cubes. It gets very intense trying to avoid all of these enemies since they all jump around the playfield in unexpected ways. Only Q*bert veterans will be able to keep track of them all and predict their movements. Thankfully, a couple of discs are placed just outside the playfield that you can hop on to escape the danger as they transport you to the top of the stage. If you time this right, enemies may jump off and you'll be temporarily relieved of them. Further levels will force you to hop on cubes multiple times in order to change them to the desired colour. Also, if you survive long enough, colours will start to reset after you jump on them if they are the goal colour. This adds a layer of puzzle solving to this already hectic game and renders it almost impossibly difficult for the average gamer.

Q*bert can collect a few bonuses that will help him score higher. If he manages to collect a green blob, all of the enemies will freeze and he will be able to cover a bit more ground while this lasts. Also, a couple of dummies may spawn that revert Q*bert's changed cubes. However, they can be defeated for points when hopped on. These additions help to diversify the gameplay slightly as everything isn't always doom and gloom for poor Q*bert, but they appear too infrequently to offer much relief.

There isn't much content in this game. You can choose to play by yourself or with someone else. This sounds cool, but players will have to take turns. Why even bother? If you have two people who want to play the game then why not just play one player mode and take turns? That way you don't have to have your game constantly interrupted while you wait for your friend's turn to be over. There are also online leaderboards which are very difficult to climb because they cut off at 200 high scores. This means that you will have to be better than the top 200 Q*bert players in the world. Good luck with that!

Q*bert screenshot 3
Two player mode may as well be one player mode

Q*bert is a tough game to recommend although it does have its charm. With punishingly difficult gameplay and very limited content, only dedicated fans will get any enjoyment out of it.

  • + Controlling Q*bert with the analog stick is more intuitive than in past iterations
  • - No music makes the game feel empty
  • - Frustrating gameplay will make most gamers stop playing within minutes
  • - Very little content
4.8 out of 10
Gameplay video for Q*bert 1:37

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