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Q*bert (Commodore 64)

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MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.6
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  *Katakis* (37823)
Written on  :  Jun 23, 2004
Platform  :  Commodore 64
Rating  :  3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars3.25 Stars
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Summary

Very good conversion. Too bad voices are not included

The Good

When I was younger, I had never heard of a proper arcade game called Q*Bert , but I read about it in a computer magazine years later and assumed that it was a puzzle game. The popular arcade game got converted to almost all computer/console platforms, including the Commodore 64, but since I never owned it on the C64, I never found out that it was actually indeed a puzzle game. These days are my chance to experience it.

You play a little pink alien called Q*Bert (pronounced "cue-bert") and his goal is to change all of the cubes on a pyramid-like structure to the target color that is displayed in the status area. This is done by hopping on the cube to make it change color. Now, in early levels, you only need to hop on a cube once for it to change color. However, later levels require you to hop on a cube more than once for them to change color. If you fall off the pyramid, you lose a life. There are four rounds in the level, and in between levels, you are shown what it is that you must do in order to go to the next round. When you complete a round, you receive bonus points based on the time taken to complete a level.

Your task becomes difficult by several creatures that bounce around the pyramid, and these creatures include Coily the Snake (who starts off bouncing around the pyramid as a purple ball), Slick and Sam, and falling red balls. Coily follows you around the pyramid, meaning that it is more likely that the two of you will collide. The other creatures just bounce around at their own free will and are not quite as dangerous as Coily. If Q*Bert collides with an enemy, he curses and you lose a life. Another creature that appears randomly is a green alien, who basically looks like the Onion Man, and unless you catch him, he will start messing up the target color of the cubes only once. Fortunately, he eventually hops off the pyramid, but you have to change the color of the cubes again before he appears once again, so you must complete each round quickly before he has the chance to change the color again. Occasionally, a green ball will start to bounce around the pyramid, and getting this ball will temporarily freeze all creatures on screen. Getting this ball is an advantage because you can finish coloring the cubes, as well as the ones that the creatures have landed on. There are also spinning discs that you can land on that will teleport you to the top of the pyramid, resulting in Coily and the other creatures to disappear.

The C64 port of Q*Bert is a very good conversion of the arcade game. The graphics are much more detailed than the coin-op version, with the game screen horizontal, rather than vertical. The sound is good too, with most of the sounds in there, like they should be when you try to compare the coin-op and C64 versions together.

The Bad

Notice that I said that the C64 conversion was "very good", instead of "excellent". The C64 version lacks the sampled voices that the coin-op version had, so you'll never get to hear him curse or when he is falling when he hops off the pyramid. Then again, since the C64 was quite a primitive system, sampled voices were not even thought off in games, with the exception of Suicide Express, Impossible Mission, and Tales of the Arabian Nights which were produced much later than this game. The other ports may have sampled voices in them, but his one definitely hasn't

Since the original game had somewhat difficult controls that took a very short time to get used to, this type of control is present in the C64 version. You can't just turn left, right, up, or down to travel to the desired direction like in many games. Instead, Q*Bert uses diagonal controls, so in order to go to a cube, located on the right of Q*Bert for example, you have to go up to travel to the cube adjacent to him, then go down to land on that cube. With these sort of controls that the game has, it was more likely that I dropped off the screen if I ended up landing on an outside cube (ie: the cube closer to the four edge of the screen).

Landing on a spinning disc to travel to the top of the pyramid doesn't always make all creatures disappear unless Coily lands on an outside cube. So it would be a waste of time on the contrary.

The Bottom Line

A fairly good coin-op conversion that has a advantage and disadvantage: The graphics are horizontal and detailed than the coin-op version, but the voices in the C64 version are missing.

Rating: ***½