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Q*Bert
Platform:  Playstation
# of Players:  1-2
Developer:  Artech Studios
Publisher:  Hasbro Interactive
Features:  
Ratings:  Teen
Memory Req.:  
Info:  http://www.hasbro.com
As long as there are video game there will always be those that will say that the classics are the best and those that will want to be on the cutting edge. Hasbro, who bought the rights to the old Atari licenses, has released a number of games in attempt to reach both of these audiences. Their newest installment of classic games gone modern is Q*Bert. Upon first playing this game I was disappointed that the game was not as good as the original but after playing for a while I began to get hooked.

The game has a number of different modes of play. There is the classic arcade version of Q*Bert as well as a couple of updated versions which put our lovable friend in 3 dimensions. As you well remember Q*Bert is the orange puff with the tube nose who jumps around on the cubes taken straight out of a M.C. Escher drawing. The evil red balls and the fiendish purple snake Coily chase him with the intent to kill. The point of the game is to jump on every single cube in order to change them to a certain color while avoiding the enemies.

The initial question that must be asked is "If it is good, why change it?" Well, the people at Hasbro feel that the original games have such a good simple gameplay element that it must be updated with superior graphics and 3 dimensions. Sometimes it works as with Pong, and sometimes it ruins the game as in Centipede. In the case of Q*Bert I have mixed feelings. Adding 3D graphics and wacky levels does not really enhance the fun of the gameplay. However, there is something inherently fun about being Q*Bert in his blocky wold. Playing the original game is so much fun and exciting since it prides itself on narrow misses and quick thinking. The modern game relies more on luck and moving quickly instead of skill.

The major difficulty with modernizing this game is making it so expansive. The original was based on patterns and quick hands that could follow those patterns on the pyramids without getting hit. The new version has levels that are so big and asymmetrical that the skill in navigating them is nearly lost. There are also a lot of "holes" (blocks that only have one way out making it very easy to get trapped) that are very hard to see in the confusing overhead view. One more thing: the control could be a lot better. Since Q*Bert can only move in diagonal motions one has to use the diagonal controls on the controllers which means that every direction uses two buttons. Also, one must tilt the controller up in order to get the angle identical to the angle of the pyramid.

Still the game moves very quickly from one level to the next and has a huge amount of options and paths. Unlike the first game, which is built upon going from level to level, the new version offers a level with many doors that all go into different levels. This makes the game much less linear and makes the players feel like they are navigating through the world of Q*Bert instead of just playing different levels. Really the game becomes more of a conquest*type platform game and less of a skill*oriented game. Like I said before the game grew on me with its cutesy characters and its conquest feel. I enjoyed jumping around in the Q*Bert land exploring new areas and solving new pyramids.

The last option that was welcome in the game was the 2 player mode. In it players compete at the same time to get their side of the pyramid done in less time than their opponent. There is also a camera block that will favor your side if you jump on it. (Looks like a design flaw made into a gameplay strategy.) This mode takes the fun and skill of the original Q*Bert and turns it into a Head*2*Head party game.

There are some decent elements of the new Q*Bert. If jumping around on blocks is your thing then you will really dig this new version. However, capturing the original feel and excitement of the original is something that the game only really achieves in its 2 Player version. Still, if you area fan of the big Q then you will probably really enjoy seeing him in his 3D glory.

Chris Shade


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