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GAME TIP: Try going down one end of the level at the start and across the bottom to the other side, catching a disk to the top, and then filling in the middle squares..

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Reviews (N-Z)


982 (1-2 Players)



Overview and game play


Q*bert is a platform game for 1-2 players that was popular in the arcades and was converted to several home computers available at the time such as the Sinclair Spectrum and later to the Commodore 64. The development team consisted of the following people: designed by Jeff Lee; programmed by Warren Davis; artwork by Terry Doerzaph and audio by David Thiel. Q*Bert's name apparently originated by the combination of cube and Hubert, but "Cube-Bert" was changed to "Q-Bert" to make it more unique. The concept game was supposedly called "Snots and Boogers" and then "@!#?@!" (which many of the programmers and Gottlieb VPs said would be impossible to get anyone to say) before the final version was called just "Q*Bert". Slick and Sam were a play on the phrase "spick and span" with Sam being named after co-worker Sam Russo. Rick Tighe came up with the idea of adding the pinball hardware which generated the very mechanical KA-CHUNK when Q*Bert falls off the pyramid.

Q*bert is said to have been inspired by the artwork of M.C. Escher who was an artist that Jeff admired. One coin per player is required and the players take turns to guide a small creature (Q*bert) with a large nose using 4 directions on the joystick of up, down, left and right around a pyramid-shaped playfield of coloured blocks. Some basic instructions appear during the attract sequence which state the object of the game is to jump on squares to change them to the target colour, (an idea of a man named Ron Waxman), which is shown in the top right of the screen by the players score. Points are awarded for filling in the squares and when the whole pyramid has been filled in, the next level appears. Other advice given in the attract sequence is that players should avoid falling off the playfield (i.e. the area of blocks Q*bert must jump on) or he will fall to his death and loose one of the three lives he starts with unless a spinning disk is present. There are 2 spinning disks available per round: one on the left of the playfield and the other on the right. When Q*bert jumps on one of the disks, it transports him to the top of the playfield and then disappears. This is a good feature of Q*bert that adds to the game play as various enemies are present in each level of Q*bert who try and hamper his progress. The enemies jump along the squares and if they touch Q*bert, he looses a life. Q*bert may sometimes face inevitable capture by a group of enemies and he can avoid it by jumping on a spinning disk. The attract sequence advice also goes on to state that spinning disks can be used to lure a snake (and indeed any of the other enemies who appear on the playfield) to its death.



All objects and creatures that are green are safe and Q*bert only needs to avoid objects or creatures that are not green. Extra lives are awarded at 8,000 points and then at each additional 14,000 points to compensate for the increased difficulty in the game in the later levels. For players skilful enough to get a high score, they will be invited at the end of the game to register their initials in a high score table and join the “noser elite”, a reference to Q*bert’s large nose. Obtaining the highest score on the table results in a special message, “You did it!., you usurped all others to become the supreme noser”. This is a pleasant addition to the game as it recognises the players achievement. The design of Q*bert makes its game play unique and this probably contributed to its popularity. In the first few games a player has of  Q*bert, the main hurdle to progression is controlling Q*bert along the playfield as the isometric view point does not correspond with the movement the player makes on the joystick. With practice, players can master this skill and the game becomes more rewarding as the player must anticipate the movements of the enemies throughout the levels to avoid capture. 



The overall graphics of Q*bert are good for an early 80’s game and the design of each level contributes to a unique and fun platform gaming experience. The playfield size and structure does not change throughout the game, but colour plays an important role in denoting the players progress given the players objective of changing squares from one colour to another. Some simple but adequate animation is used to portray Q*bert’s jumps as well as those of his enemies. The character of Q*bert is quite odd but nevertheless cute and the other enemies in the game such as bouncing balls and snakes are all well designed. One famous aspect of Q*bert is that when he is touched by an enemy, a speech bubble appears and he says “@!#?@!” or some derivative of that to show he is cursing because he has been caught. This funny animation adds humour and emotion to Q*bert and adds to his characterisation and appeal.




There is no music in Q*bert aside from a little introductory tune that signifies the start of the game. The sound effects are basic but actually add much to the game play. Upon depositing a coin a sound plays which is like a coin being dropped into an empty container. Each of Q*bert’s jumps creates a sound, as does his enemies movements and other actions in the game.



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