The Game: Q*Bert, a nosey little guy with a propensity for hopping, spends his time hopping around a three-dimensional pyramid of cubes, avoiding Coily the Snake and other assorted purple and red creatures, including a few who operate on a slightly different plane (i.e., they move down the pyramid as if it were rotated one-third). Any green objects and creatures Q*Bert can catch will not hurt him – in fact, the little bouncing green balls will stop time briefly for everyone but Q*Bert. If he gets into a tight spot, Q*Bert can jump off the pyramid onto a flying disc which will deposit him back at the top of thepyramid – and lure Coily to a nasty fate by jumping into nothing. Changing the colors of the top of every cube in the pyramid to the target color indicated at the top left of the screen will clear the pyramid and start the craziness all over again. If Q*Bert is hit by an enemy or falls off the pyramid, he hits bottom with a burst of incomprehensible obscenity! (Parker Brothers, 1983)
Memories: This game has been much-maligned by some VCS owners over the years, which is something I take issue with. The 2600 translation of the famous arcade game was just fine! The graphics conveyed the pyramid of cubes just fine, it was easy to tell which way Q*Bert was headed, and overall I had no complaints. Even the sound effects, even though they were in some cases not even close to the distinctive sounds of the original, had their own strange charm.
Parker Brothers chose a novel way to avoid the traditional difficulties experienced by four-way joystick controllers with diagonals – the entire joystick was to be rotated 45 degrees, with the action button on the top corner, to control this game.
Parker later issued the sequel, Q*Bert’s Qubes, for the 2600 – and that turned out to be one of their very last games for any video game system.