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). 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 resounding, arcade- cabinet-shaking splat and a burst of incomprehensible obscenity! (NTVIC, 1992)
Memories: Released a full decade after the original game, Q*Bert 3 for the SNES seems to draw its inspiration in equal measure from the 1982 arcade classic and the Game Boy version by Jaleco, which broke the arcade game’s “pyramid of cubes” mold and brought newer, more challenging shapes to the table to confound long-timers who thought they had the game licked.
But Q*Bert 3 is very faithful to the original where it counts. Like every other home version of Q*Bert, the diagonal movement of the game means reorienting the controller; the dogbone SNES controllers can make this awkward at best and uncomfortable at worst if you’re good enough to be stuck holding the controller that way for an extended period of time.
New enemies keep things fresh, and as with the adversaries Q*Bert faced in the original game, they each have unique rules governing their movement around the screen. Learning those rules is the key to avoiding them.
The SNES’ graphics capabilities make Q*Bert 3 a fun new twist on the original. Mind-bending, trippy animated graphics undulate in the background, while the original games simple cubes are reformatted into different vaguely cubical objects, from wooden crates to teeth (!). Maybe Q*Bert missed an opportunity to become the best “dental” game ever.
Unlike some SNES retro titles, Q*Bert 3 doesn’t reinvent the wheel, because it doesn’t have to. The original game was strong enough to withstand some graphical reinvention, and still stands on its own extremely fun merits.