Review: Q*bert Rebooted (PC / Mac)

Review-Q-Bert-Rebooted-on-SteamIt’s never easy to reboot something like Q*Bert, or by extension any beloved arcade classic. This is because a tightrope has to be walked by the developers – as the formula of the original title can be tinkered with so little that it makes the endeavour utterly pointless, or the game is made so different to its inspiration that a new IP would of probably been a better idea.

So Q*bert Rebooted, developed by Galaxy Pest Control and Gonzo Games, is perhaps on a hiding to nothing, and although it doesn’t join the pantheon of great remakes like Space Invaders Extreme and Pac Man Championship Edition its far from a failure.

For those not versed in the ways of Q*Bert, I’ll outline what the game is all about. You play as the titular Q*bert, who is one of the stranger gaming character out there – resembling an orange gumball with legs and a long trunk. You’re dumped into an isometric arena made up of several tiles, and are tasked by painting all the squares of it a specific colour by stepping on them – with complications arising in the form of various enemies and obstacles to avoid.

The original arcade iteration of the game is included as you’d expect, and isn’t a title that pulls any punches – but is useful when comparing it to the Rebooted version, which is fortunately much more accessible.

Review-Q-Bert-Rebooted-Original

It does this in a couple of key ways, one being the way it’s structured. No longer is it focused towards you obtaining a high-score, with 36 levels to complete - each consisting of 3 stages. You have 5 lives with which to complete each trio of challenges, and then once they’re done you can move onto the next set.

One irritating aspect to this otherwise straightforward set-up is that you have to play each level three times to gain the complete quota of stars however – which are gained by completing the level, then finishing it in a set time, and finally beating it with a minimum score. Before you ask collecting these stars is necessary too – as you’ll need specific amounts to unlock later levels – and this does make playing the game a little bit of a chore at times.

Another way the game is a little bit easier to get to grips with is the way it employs hexagon tiles rather than the squares of the original though, making it simpler for you to avoid foes - and also allows levels to be a little more varied in layout. Not that this reinvents the formula massively of course, and this is where one of the main problem with the game as a whole arises – namely that Q*bert is arguably not that much fun of a concept.

Review-Q-Bert-Rebooted-Screenshot

The gameplay is repetitive and simple, but you expect that from a reboot of a title from 1982 – but you also expect what few elements there are to be hugely enjoyable to combat this. When you shoot one of the last Space Invaders on the screen for example, that’s fun. When you chomp a ghost in Pac-Man, it’s satisfying. Yet in Q*bert there’s very little that you’ll savour doing over and over again, and a large part of this is sue to the range of enemies. Coilys, a snake that follow you, are easily dealt with and it’s amusing luring them to their doom – or at least it is at first, before another is spawned just a few seconds later.

There are far more annoying foes however, with the main culprit being Slick – a sunglasses toting green fellow who changes the tiles back to their original colour. In the latter levels these are used without mercy and resulting in you going over an repainting squares repeatedly - meaning you’ll likely just be glad have the game finished a little before the end, which is definitely not how things should be.

I will add that some new enemies are also introduced for the reboot, including Homers which endlessly chase you and Uppercuts which smash you off the arena – and these would be intriguing additions, but are sadly invincible unless power-ups (bought with gems collected in levels and bonus screens) are used. This all only adds to feeling of the game being more of a grind than a satisfying and rewarding experience.

If you can look beyond this and enjoy the game in short bursts – undoubtedly the ideal way to play it – then these problems are lessened, but there’s still the nagging feeling this could have been better.

There has clearly been some work put into the game’s core mechanics after all - the controls are largely faultless for example with solid mouse and keyboard controls – so it’s a shame that much of the game feels strangely uninspired.

The 3D makeover is solid but hardly blows you away for example, and elements such as the unlockable characters and achievements feel a little tacked on. There are several variations of Q*bert – including some mildly disturbing ones, such as Q*Bertha - to unlock using gems, but disappointingly there’s no difference between them beyond the cosmetic.

This means that for most this isn’t a game worth going out of your way for, but considering its low asking price fans of the original could do worse – with the game providing a solid but unspectacular ride.

Q*bert Rebooted is currently available on PC and Mac through Steam for £3.99/$4.99 - with iOS and Android versions coming soon.


Last Updated ( 24 July 2014 )  

Simon Reed

An avid collector of retro handhelds since getting a Game Boy Pocket back in the 90s, perhaps his most embarrassing gaming moment was when he got involved in an eBay bidding war...for a Tiger Game.com game. Also has a interest in sports and likes to write features connecting them with games whenever possible.

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