Game Review: Q*Bert

Q*Bert Title Screen

  • Publisher: Ultra
  • Developer: Konami
  • Released: February 1989
  • Game Type: Arcade
  • Players: 1 or 2 [Alt]
  • Product Number: NES-QB-USA
  • Rarity: B- (Borderline Rare)
    Game Ratings:
    OVERALL: 8

    Box Scan
    Q*Bert Screen 1 Q*Bert Screen 2

    This is another arcade classic brought over the NES, this one stariing an odd-looking creature who hops along a pseudo-3D pyrmaid avoiding strange creatures while shouting a questionable phrase when getting hit. Despite the odd premise the game was a massive success, earning ports on several game consoles, and in the late 80's Konami decided to bring it over to the NES, providing the 8-bit system with another great arcade classic.

    There's not much to say about the storyline. The Tazmaniac Kings of Chaos have imprisoned Q*Bert in a time warp where the laws of physics do not apply. Q*Bert must find a way to escape his prison by changing a series of pyramids into different colors.

    There are nine levels, each having four stages, for a total of 36 screens. Q*bert starts atop a pyramid, and must hop on blocks to change the color of the top of each block. The object is to change the colors of each block to the specal code color shown underneath the score. However Q*Bert will have comapny in the form of several critters who will try to stop you from completing your task. Red balls will bounce their way down the pyramid while purple balls turn into Coily, who'll bounce mercilessly after our hero. Wrong-Way and Ugg hop along the sides of each step, while Slick and Sam can undo your work by chaning blocks to the wrong color. Usually touching any of the enemies will kill you and cause Q*Bert to shout "Q!#?@!", whatever that means. One object, a green boucing ball, can safely be touched and it'll freeze your enemies for several seconds. You can also lose a life by accidentally leaping off the edge. Each level several several discs along the edge that'll save you from a fatal fall and bring you back to the top of the pyramid. You can also use these the trick Coily into hopping off the pyramid, which will tempraily clear the board of enemies. Once all the blocks have been changed to the proper color, Q*Bert can go to the next screen. As you make progress, you'll be faced with more challenges, such as having to change the colors several times. Once you lose all your lives the game ends, and you have three continues.

    Graphics & Sounds:
    There's not much to say about the graphics; you just get the playingfield and the characters, all of which are pretty colorful and are very identical to the coin-op original. The sounds also aren't much to talk about. There's no in-game music other than the intros to each level, but the sound effects are pretty fun and do their job well.

    Konami did a good job addressing the unique diagonal-moving issue. Before you start the game you can customize the controls to a setup that works best for you. The controls are easy to use and pretty responsive, but sometimes Q* Bert has a hard time stopping and ends up jumping off the pyramid.

    Challenge & Playability:
    Q*Bert may not have the most extensive collection of features, especially compared to other NES carts, but its fun fast-paced gameplay more than make up for it. The premise is simple enough for anyone to jump in, yet the game is also challenging enough to give most gaming vets a workout. The game is also very addicting, ensuring you'll come back again and again.

    Even though it's just a simple arcade puzzler, Q*Bert has managed to stand the test of time and proves to be another great NES port of a coin-op classic. There's enough challenging, addictive action to satisfy anyone looking for a nice arcade fix. Kudos to Konami for providing this excellent conversion.

    - Review posted on April 14, 2008