Until picking up this latest arcade refresh, I had only vaguely heard of Q*bert (guilty of not being an 80s kid, and of being unable to reach an arcade joystick until about 1996). Asked to name some retro arcade titles, games like Tetris, Space Invaders and Pacman would spring to my mind – simple, addictive games that endured into my 90s/00s childhood and are still firm favourites today. However Q*bert is another veteran from this arcade era, and was both critically acclaimed and commercially successful, though it hasn’t stuck in the limelight easily as others of its 80s rivals. Handily, Q*bert Rebooted also includes a classic mode, so that new players can get a taste of what the original game might have looked like. (Mainly more… pixelly and square-ish.) It’s a nice extra feature.
The objective of Q*bert Rebooted is unchanged in 30 years. As Q*bert the orange space-hopper/cartoon elephant hybrid – and later, as additionals like Q*zilla and Q*nicorn purchased by collecting gems – you bounce up and down a pyramid of either squares (classic) or hexagons (rebooted). Each pyramid tile you land on changes colour and the level is completed when each has been recoloured. The pyramids get bigger, and holes appear. As well as the risk of falling off the edges into the abyss (easily done) Q*bert Rebooted is saved from being too easy by purple Coily who hunts Q*bert around the pyramid, red balls that will squish him, and green jumping balls in sunglasses that change tiles back to their original colours.
Now, back to the problem of falling into the abyss. The progression from arcade booth joystick to PS3 analog stick should have improved usability and responsiveness. Nope. Instead the motion controls on Q*bert Rebooted are over-sensitive and self-destructive. Its transformation into 3d is bad. Unless the PS3 analog stick is directed with a 1/360 degree level of precision, Q*bert jumps off the edge of the pyramid with the irritating mewling sound I will probably hear in my nightmares for a long time.
The rebooted edition introduces a new star-based progression system. Each level has three stars, each granted by repeating levels until three separate goals have been achieved. Firstly, completing the level, secondly completing it within a set time frame, and thirdly, achieving a set number of points. Because of the star requirement needed to unlock the next stage of the wiggly progression-bridge, these challenges aren’t optional. The levels do get gradually more difficult, but the in-level challenges aren’t different enough to separate them – especially the first and second stars. Even first time players shouldn’t struggle to guide Q*bert around the small pyramid within the time limit. But instead of granting the two stars, Q*bert Rebooted holds players back and slows the pace by forcing them to repeat each level within a time that often has already, easily been achieved. Which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing if the levels varied each time you replay them. But they don’t and for me this was too repetitive.
Q*bert is slightly rebooted. It introduces a gem-based collecting system which is a nice extra, allowing players to unlock characters that add a bit of visual variety even if they don’t make much difference to game play. The graphics on the whole are unquestionably improved. The hexagons have rounded of the crude edges and made it nicer to look at on the screen. Its loyal 80s fans might approve of the lack of change, and the trip down memory lane with a few extras thrown in. However there were no rose-tinted contact lenses of nostalgia in my eyes while playing. The PS3 analog over-sensitivity is inescapably and constantly annoying. Q*bert Rebooted is a crossbuy, so Vita players might have a better experience. Alternatively, it is also available on IOS. Q*bert Rebooted strikes me as a game best suited to mobile devices – played occasionally, for a few minutes at a time on your phone on the bus in the morning or in a queue, when you can put hours between having to complete the same level repeatedly.
Those looking for a blast from the past, or a casual arcade mobile game, it’s probably what you’re looking for, but there just wasn’t… ‘enough’ of it for modern console standards of entertainment. I didn’t lose time, and I didn’t want to sit and play it for hours. It isn’t a challenging as Tetris, or as fast-paced as Pacman. I just wasn’t addicted.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to email@example.com.
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