Monday, January 02, 2006

NES Review: Q*Bert

Ahhh, the classics. You can't fade them at all, and they never really go away. There once was a time when we pumped quarters into arcade cabinets like heroine junkies shoot smack. These games were addicting, even with their simple gameplay structures and concepts. Mention the word Arcade to anyone and a select few names will come immediately into their minds: Pac Man. Qix. Q*Bert.

Ahh, Q*Bert. Lord knows what he is. Basically, he's a hushpuppie with legs, a dust buster-sized schnoz, two huge eyes, and a potty mouth. Yep, that's right, Q*Bert cusses like a sailor in port after six months at sea. But hey, all you right-wing fundie game haters, you don't have to worry. Q*Bert's vulgar display of ouch is limited to a few choice symbols and a bit of medium-high pitched mumbling.

The premise is simple: Maneuver Q*Bert up and down the pyramid, changing the colors of all the available steps to the desired color. Simple, right? Wrong. You've got plenty of problems while you're jumping around, but thankfully, a bitch ain't one. You do, however, have to worry about bouncing balls which will land on your head and induce a swearing fit that would make R. Lee Emery blush. But balls aren't the only things out to get your... your... hushpuppie with legs. There's Coiley, the tweaked out purple snake who thinks he's a Tigger. He'll actually track you down and mush you, so you'd best watch out.

Gravity is your enemy here, but your enemies don't always abide by the laws of Issac Newton. Say hello to Ugh and Wrong-Way, two two-dimensional beings working in three dimensions with one-dimensional minds. They'll hop on the sides of the pyramid's cubes, swiping and clawing at you as they pass. But fear not, for there is a method of escaping all this purple-pixeled peril.

Flying discs are positioned at the sides of the levels, and hitching a ride on one will send you to the top of the pyramid. If Coiley is in hot persuit, he'll bail off the side, netting you some bonus points. There's also the little green ball. Snag it and your enemies will momentarily freeze, allowing you to take care of your business before you go hopping mad or get out of a tight space.

Green isn't always good, though. There are Slick (with the shades) and Sam (with the hair), two green teardrop guys who will reverse the colors of the blocks you've covered, forcing you to go back and do them over. Fortunately, though, these two can't kill you, and you get a few extra points if you catch up and tag them.

OK, so Tomb Raider it ain't. But hey, if you're a sucker for geometry and odd controller angles, then Q*Bert is right up your alley. The NES version is a nearly faithful port of the Arcade classic.

Q*Bert - NES - Arcade Port

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