Q*bert Rebooted Review

Q*bert is an arcade classic that really has not been given its due in recent years. After its revival in Q*bert Rebooted, it still hasn't. Q*bert Rebooted gives you the original arcade game, along with the "rebooted" version, a lazy and uninspired redo of the classic that turns it into a pedestrian mobile-style game.

The original arcade game was an Escher-inspired classic in which you controlled the orange colored whatsits Q*bert as he tried to change the color of every cube in a floating pyramid to a different color by hopping on them. Deadly balls come dropping from above and bounce their way down the pyramid, and while avoiding these you have to be careful not to jump off of the edge of the pyramid and send Q*bert to his doom. There's also Coily the Snake to contend with, a purple spring of an enemy who will pursue Q*bert relentlessly. To rid yourself of Coily you'll need to trick him into jumping over the edge of the pyramid by taking advantage of the floating discs that sit just off the edge of the pyramid in a couple of places. Hop onto the disc and Q*bert is given a ride back to the top of the pyramid while Coily drops over the edge and out of Q*bert's life, at least for a short while. As you advance through the game the Escher aspect kicks in and enemies will begin dropping onto the pyramid who have different ideas of which way is up and which cube constitutes the top of the pyramid. This is where things begin to get really challenging, as you will need to keep track of multiple enemies and keep track of which direction each of them is "dropping".

Q*bert Rebooted screenshot 1

For the most part the game feels like a faithful recreation of the original, although I'm pretty sure that some things have been changed. For instance, I seem to remember that the original would award you bonus points for unused discs at the end of a level. The most egregious difference in this release of the game, though, is the controls. They are sloppy and imprecise, and in a game in which you need to switch directions along the diagonals quickly this leads to far too many frustrating deaths. When you flick the stick in a new direction you expect that Q*bert will respond instantly, and not first hop one more square in the direction that he is currently moving. This issue spoiled the classic side of Q*bert Rebooted for me, and unfortunately the rebooted version was even more disappointing.

The rebooted version replaces the cubes of the original with hexagons, giving you six possible moves from each block rather than four. I suppose someone thought that this was an upgrade over the original, but six directional movement isn't nearly as natural a fit for a controller as four or eight. Making matters worse, the controls have been unnecessarily and unnaturally complicated by the addition of a jump button. It's awkward to have to select a direction and then push a button each time you move to a new block, especially given the simplicity of the original game's controls.

The rebooted version also mixes up the block pattern between levels, which is a welcome idea since it's an opportunity to increase the challenge level as you progress through the game. But the game never takes advantage of this opportunity, presenting a series of mundane layouts that are different just for the sake of being different without adding anything to the gameplay.

Q*bert Rebooted screenshot 8

Probably the worst thing about the reboot version is that it follows a mobile game design pattern. Each level has three objectives, and you're awarded a star for each objective met. Periodically you'll run into a "gate", and to proceed past it and to the levels beyond you'll need to meet a minimum total star count from the previous levels. The levels are simply not enjoyable enough to be forced to replay them to meet additional objectives like arbitrary time and score goals.

Poorly implemented controls and a poorly designed and rather uninspired rebooted version of the original arcade classic make it safe to pass on this Q*bert "reboot" and wait for the next one to come along.

Final Rating: 50% - Q*bert deserves better than this.


Note: A review code for this game was provided by the publisher.

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