Originally released to arcades in 1982, Q*bert is a simple game where you must change the colour of cubes, which are stacked as pyramids, by hoping on them. You control a strange creature with a large nose (originally used for shooting projectiles, but later pulled from the game) by directing him in an isometric view, left, right, up and down. There are two control options available, either by virtual joystick or swipe. As with Pac-Man and other retro game ports to iPhone, I’d recommend the swipe option. Here it works in a similar way to EDGE, where once you swipe in one direction and hold your finger down, Q*bert will continually hop along until you release. A simple swipe in any other direction and he’ll do the same. While you hop around changing the cube colours, nasty creatures will try and kill you. These start out life as bouncing balls, and bounce down the pyramid, taking you out or reaching the bottom, whichever comes first. Should they reach the bottom, they will transform into a spring-like snake, which can bounce back up the pyramid and even match your moves, until it catches you. You can escape it’s clutches by hopping on one of the available warp pads, which whisks you to the top of the level, and out of harms way. Once you have changed all the cubes to the opposite colour, it’s on to the next level, where you will encounter not only more cubes, but also more enemies.
There are three modes of play available in this remake/port. Arcade mode sees you playing the classic game in all its retro glory. Modern, adds crisper graphics, and music. And Jungle mode, offers more intricate level designs with multiple pyramids and various shapes and sizes, with warp pads the only way to access them. While the original arcade mode is still a great game, I found the Jungle mode more fun, with fresher gameplay, including the need in later levels to change cubes to more than one colour.
Presentation and graphics
Sure, they look date by today’s standards, but why change them extensively when they work great just as they are. The arcade mode is there in it’s original pixelated form; where as the other two modes are given a little makeover.
Once again, it’s all retro in the mix. Original sounds, including Q*bert’s garbled voice when you get hit or it’s game over (I’m sure he’s swearing!), plus cool midi style tunes in the modern and jungle modes.
Very simple, but very addictive. It’s pretty hard as simple games go, but it begs for that ‘one more try’ feel which many modern games can’t match. Swipe controls work well, but you may want to avoid the less responsive Virtual joystick.
It’s addictive, with plenty of levels (if you can get beyond the first few that is!), so you may find you keeping this on your home screen for the odd quick play while waiting for a bus or on a short train journey. The three modes keep things fresh, plus the promise of more themed modes in updates, allowing you to vote for which one you want next. The high scores should be online enabled however.
Q*bert is retro gaming goodness, he’s not as big as Pac-Man, Sonic or Mario, but some gamers hold a special place in their heart for the big nosed blob! At $1.99 it’s certainly worth picking up for newbie’s… but for fans of the original, it’s a must.