In a world full of arcade-inspired indies, it's intriguing to see an actual remake of a classic arcade game. If you've played the original Q*bert then you'll generally know what to expect. A few additions and updates help freshen it up a bit for the modern age, but is it worth downloading a copy or is it only for fans? Before we get to the review, it should be mentioned that this package contains the original Q*bert (which is a pretty decent bonus), but it won't be covered in this review since I've already reviewed it here.
Q*bert Rebooted is a level-based campaign with gameplay almost identical to the original. You hop from hexagon to hexagon by moving in six directions (instead of the original's four directions) in order to change each hexagon to the desired colour. If you fall off the side or come in contact with an enemy, then Q*bert swears before losing a life. Because you're moving in six directions, you'll find the process of mastering the controls quite an irritating one since Q*bert will go in an unwanted direction if you're even slightly off. When he does this, you can't help but wish the game could just read your mind instead because there's nothing more frustrating than losing life after life due to finicky controls. Even after you master the controls, things won't get much easier. Pro tip: encase your controller in bubble wrap to prevent damage when you inevitably throw it in a fit of rage.
The visuals are adequate with 3D models and colourful stages. That being said, after playing a while, you'll get bored of the never-changing graphics. This could have been remedied by simply putting different backdrops or implementing varying textures depending on the level, but instead everything appears the same throughout the entire campaign. Q*bert himself is well animated and it's great to watch him hop as his nose flops around like an uncooked hot dog. Where Rebooted really falls on its face is in the music department. The song for the overworld map is excruciatingly bad. I guess it makes you want to start playing immediately so your ears can have a rest. During gameplay, the music is cute and not as annoying but there's only one song that plays so it'll eventually get on your nerves as well. Sound effects become muddled together as it's hard to distinguish which effects apply to which events. It all ends up sounding like a jumbled mess of bloops and blips. Thankfully, Q*bert's alien ramblings add some comic relief to the otherwise generic audio.
Levels come in many different layouts which is an interesting spin on the original. Each of the various layouts creates a unique challenge requiring a different strategy so you're constantly faced with fresh scenarios. But, as the campaign comes to an end, the levels become almost impossibly difficult. One level consists of two islands. After you clear the first, you take a platform to the second. Then, you must clear that island without dying because you'll spawn on the first if you do, thus trapping you since the platform is now gone. Are you serious? Talk about a ridiculously unfair and infuriating level. It makes me want to borrow Q*bert's catchphrase and say, "@!#?@!".
Each of Q*bert Rebooted's levels is divided into three challenges; for completing the level, beating it in under a specified time, and obtaining a certain score. It makes no sense that these challenges must be accomplished separately. This means that if you finish a level once with a great score in under the threshold time, you only get one star for completing the level. You have to play it two more times in order to get all three stars. However, there are plenty of levels and challenges to work your way through and they can be very satisfying to beat. It feels fantastic once you manage to finish a challenge that you've been retrying over and over again.
Some interesting inclusions in this remake are a couple of new enemies in the form of a cat-like alien that follows you at every step and a treasure chest that rewards you points when you run into it. Why do you want points? Besides the score challenges, I have no idea since your high scores aren't saved anywhere. You also have the opportunity to collect gems in a bonus round after completing a level. You can use these to purchase an assortment of characters which don't do anything besides change the way Q*bert looks. After you buy all of the characters (you can do so easily well before the end of the campaign), the gems are pretty much useless.
Q*bert Rebooted is an interesting update to a retro arcade classic. However, it's difficult to recommend it to anyone except die-hard fans since most gamers won't be able to tolerate the inexcusable frustration and generic presentation.
- + Includes the original Q*bert
- + Rebooted is a fresh take on the original
- + Tons of demanding levels and challenges will make you celebrate every victory
- - Controls are as frustrating as ever and later levels are inexplicably difficult
- - Level challenges must be done one at a time
- - Terribly annoying and repetitive music