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Q*bert

Score: 75%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Majesco
Developer: Hasbro Interactive
Media: CD/1
Players: 1 - 2
Genre: Arcade/ Action

Graphics & Sound:

Simple, flat-shaded polygons are what youíll find in Q*bert. Itís certainly a clean look, but it wonít be getting any awards soon. To make matters worse, the engine actually chugs on occasion, notably a) when the camera is moving around or b) when you need absolute precision in your movements. The former isnít too annoying, but when youíre trying to escape from Coily and thereís a lot going on, the last thing you need is a lagging frame-rate. Folks, this game shouldnít chug a PSOne, much less a Dreamcast. Argh.

The sound effects are strictly Ď80s arcade fare, which is good or bad depending on where youíre coming from. I like them, but then I used to waste countless hours on the original Q*bert, so Iím biased. By todayís standards, the sound in this game is pitifully weak. The music is sub-par, the effects are tinny, and your ears fail to be impressed in any way while playing this game. I had ĎCup of Lifeí from ĎSamba de Amigoí running through my head most of the time I played Q*bert... and I hate that damn song.


Gameplay:

Fortunately for Q*bert, the gameplay is actually quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, shoddy level design and uninspired ďupgradesĒ make this game less fun than the arcade original, and in the end, a mediocre game at best.

Youíre Q*bert, out to save your friends from Coily or some such bull. There are four worlds that you have to conquer, each with Levels inside. Each Level is further subdivided into sub-Levels, which is where you generally get the action going on.

For those of you who never played the original, Q*bert consists of hopping on isometric blocks to turn them different colors. Youíve got to change all the blocks in a level into one color, all the time dodging the various bad guys -- bouncing red balls, green guys that change the color of the squares, and the evil Coily who chases you around. You can use little discs to zoom back to a safe point, hopefully tricking Coily into jumping off a cliff in the process.

The innovations that Q*bert provides from the original is found mainly in the structure department. Instead of the raw triangle that youíd always see in the arcade game, the levels now have crazy shapes for you to clear. Most of the time, thatís a good thing -- variety is the spice of life. But a few of the levels have obscured areas that you canít tell whether there are blocks there or not, and thatís No Fun.

Thereís more to it than that, with the intriguing scoring and difficulty methods, but thatís basically all the game is. There are power-ups which often help you, but itís usually too little, too late. The game starts to drag after the first world, and youíll find yourself thinking of things youíd rather be doing than hopping around cubes.

There are a few extra game modes for you to try. Thereís Classic mode, which is a port of the Arcade game with enhanced graphics. For some reason, though, I didnít enjoy it half as much as I did the original arcade game. And then you can play in two-player mode, to see whoís the fastest cube-hopper. Itís entertaining, but there are much better two-player games out on the market.


Difficulty:

Although quite a few of the levels are genuinely challenging, a few too many are artificially challenging. Obscuring portions of the level is a Bad Thing. There are three difficulty levels that you can pick before you start a Level. They affect the number of lives you have (fewer for higher difficulties) and the number of points you get for doing things in the game (more for higher difficulties). As certain things only unlock when you have a certain number of points, and the game only counts each Level once (the highest score youíve made in it), itís imperative to beat the Levels on Hard to get the highest scores. Sometimes thatís too challenging, though, and those who arenít completists can simply whip through the game on Easy.

Game Mechanics:

You use the D-Pad to jump around, and A to use power-ups. Thatís it. You can choose which way you want the D-Pad to be angled, but I preferred the default way to the other one. You have to get used to the odd angle at first, but I played so much Q*bert and Marble Madness on my NES with weird controller angles that it didnít phase me any. Newbies may need a little practice before they jump into the game proper, though. The game mechanics, such as they are, are simple and effective, and although youíll feel the game cheats you occasionally, you can always find a way through. The menus are surprisingly clear and understandable, not to mention nice-looking.

Damn camera!

Q*bert is solidly targeted towards nostalgia buffs, and in the end, it falters. Weak gameplay, choppy graphics, and a short lifespan keep Q*bert from standing out in the crowd. Cube-hopping buffs may want to pick it up for completistís sake, but everyone else should definitely rent first and see if itís their cuppa.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Sega Dreamcast Samba de Amigo Sega Dreamcast Jet Grind Radio

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated