Q*bert? Yeah I know Q*bert. Who doesn't know Q*bert? Played it? Nah, never.
Something about blocks, jumping on blocks, bound to be some avoiding things thrown in. Funny looking walking nose or something. Yeah, Q*bert. Simple little game, piece of cake.
Pictured: My first life. Disappearing. Rapidly. After a single button press. The wrong button press.
Q*bert is an isometric platform puzzler where you have to light up every square, changing its colour into the colour shown in the top left. While avoiding balls, balls that turn into snakes, and your own ineptitude at moving things in the isometric view.
It is oh so terribly simple - if you've not come into much contact with isometric views - to fall into the trap of 'down, down, down to the bottom, now I've got to go to the block to the right, so I press rig-shi-fu-up then right, up then right!'
And that's a tad annoying sometimes. Avoiding an enemy? Run right into it. Carefully navigating the edges of the pyramid? Jump over the edge. Even taking time to stop, think which direction you actually need to push and then pushing it can result in an enemy falling right on your head on move one...
It's not an exercise in frustration though. I might quote Q*bert when such things happen sometimes, but they're my fault really. If my directional buttons were mounted diagonally, as in a Q*bert arcade cabinet, I might have an easier time. Perhaps I'm making the game more challenging and fun than the original, which is itself fun because of those moments of stupidity.
For a game that at first strikes you as simple, it soon catches you out. Which way will the balls fall, how will Coily hop up to me from where he is, why oh why did that block change colours again? Oh God, I can't mindlessly jump back to them, but have to think 'can I change this block again later on after taking a different route while still avoiding enemies'? It's a hard game, made harder by your complete lack of skill, of which I have plenty...
I never got to the extremes of colour changing blocks. Even some of the screenshots on the Q*bert Wikipedia article scare me. No, Round 2 is as far as I got and I didn't last too long there either, but I had quite the entertaining journey through the first round.
I never met Ugg and Wrongway, never saw Slick and Sam. I suspect we'd get on swimmingly for the first few seconds before they caused me to lose another life and I shouted "@!#?@!", like most every other object in Q*bert.
I never got to grips with the points, or how to score them, or that green balls are fine to touch, perhaps benefitial to my short term goals. I never fully utilised the little transport discs at the side.
I really was rubbish. But even if you're never any good, the game isn't off putting. It's not so hard you can't win, it's so hard you can't see yourself winning, but want to stick around to see how well the next player fares.
Focus testing through a two-way mirror would result in the difficulty being lowered. I must really need some practice at Q*bert.
Q*bert, developed by Gottlieb, first published in 1982
Version played: Arcade, via emulation.