The Game: Q*Bert, a nosey little guy with a propensity for hopping, spends his time hopping around a pyramid of colorful blocks, 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 the pyramid – and lure Coily to a nasty fate by jumping into nothing. Changing the colors of the top of every block 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. (Parker Brothers, 1983)
Memories: One of the last games ever produced for the Odyssey 2, this great adaptation of Q*Bert also has the distinction of being among the hardest to find. Released primarily in Europe for the Videopac (the Dutch-produced equivalent of the Odyssey2), Q*Bert has decent graphics and damned fast gameplay for an Odyssey game. And before anyone gets on my case about praising the graphics, remember that this was a machine with a built-in graphics set – meaning that creating custom characters for Q*Bert, Coily and everything else took memory away from the game itself. Bearing that in mind, the end result is impressive, despite the fact that time-stopping green balls are indistinguishable from Slick and/or Sam.
Q*Bert was one of only five arcade games ever translated to the Odyssey2; one, Turtles, was licensed by Philips, while the other four were Parker Bros. licenses that had also been produced for the Atari 2600 and 5200, ColecoVision and Intellivision. From a collecting standpoint, you can expect to pay a pretty penny to get a hold of Q*Bert, and you’ll probably wind up purchasing it from a European collector.
There’s more to Q*Bert than its ultra-rare status: it’s a decent, fast-paced game for my favorite 8-bit-era machine.