Q*Bert's Qubes

Q*Bert's Qubes
Company: Parker Bros.
Model #:
Todd Marshall (Wickstead Design)
Year: 1984
Sequel to the 1982 Gottlieb coin-op


Released by Mylstar in 1984, Q*Bert's Qubes is a strange sequel to Q*Bert in which our beloved orange nose ball must once again jump around floating structures turning all the squares the same color.  But this time there's a twist (say that in your best M. Night Shyamalan voice), each of the squares is really a cube (or should I say qube) that must be rotated to the correct side thus making your task much more difficult.  To rotate a cube, Q*Bert must jump onto then off of it.  Depending on which direction Q*Bert jumped off, the cube will then rotate one notch.  The best way to visualize this is to think of it as Q*Bert pushing off the cube as he jumps, causing it to rotate.  You'd better have a good head for 3-D rotations to play this game or you won't get very far.


Unlike the original Q*Bert, the player doesn't have to change the colors on ALL the cubes.  Instead, each level now requires Q*Bert to make a certain number of matched rows of four cubes.  These rows can be up, down, left, right, or diagonal, just as long as there are four matching cubes in the correct orientation (as shown at the top of the screen).  When Q*Bert rotates a cube into the correct position it will turn solid green, so it's fairly easy to keep track of which cubes you've already done.  While correct cubes are locked into place on earlier levels, they can rotated out of position in the higher levels so be careful.

Q*Berts lack of geometry skills isn't his only challenge in this game.  As in the original Q*Bert, there are a myriad of enemies chasing Q*Bert around the diamond (pyramids are so 1982). Meltniks are strange large nosed creatures that jump from the top of the screen to the bottom.  Meltniks come in a variety of colors and if a Meltnik jumps onto a cube side that is the same color as it is, it will melt back into the cube.  Purple Balls are back and if they reach the bottom of the screen they'll hatch into a new(ish) enemy called Rat-a-tat-tat.  Rat-a-tat-tat will chase Q*Bert around the screen incessantly unless he is able to knock him off the diamond by rotating a cube at the exact same time Rat-a-tat-tat is jumping onto it.  Rounding out the enemy roster are the Shooboops.  Shooboops are little green men who will change the cube colors when they jump on them, even if you've already made a match!

Q*Bert does have a few allies to help him, if he catch them that is.  Green Balls make their triumphant return and act just like they do in the original game by stopping everything on the screen for a short (way too short) time.  Then there's Sheldon the turtle who can slow everyone down for a bit if Q*Bert runs into him, and slows down the introduction of new enemies.  Although many of these characters seem new, they're really just rehashes of old designs with slight changes.  Meltniks are really red balls with color issues, Rat-a-tat-tat is just Coily in disguise (right down to hatching from a purple ball), the Shoobops are just Slick and Sam, and the Green Ball is... the Green Ball (they didn't even try there).  Only Sheldon the turtle is really new, and even then he's just sort of a weaker Green Ball.

Every four rounds Q*Bert will participate in a bonus round where he must quickly rotate a cube into the correct orientation before being whisked off to the next.  There are no enemies on these rounds and Q*Bert doesn't actually move off the cube as he rotates it, so it's really just a matter of knowing which side of the cube you need to bring towards the front.  Due to the lack of frustration factors and the quick pace of the timer, these bonus rounds are almost more fun than the regular game.  One thing to be careful of is that you need to let the cube finish rotating before you rotate it again or you'll override what you just did.  Take your time with the bonus round, just not too much time...

Although Q*Berts Qubes was a fine arcade game (if a bit difficult), it really took a hit on the 2600.  While the Colecovision version of the game was able to reproduce the rotating cubes, the 2600 version just had them flash colors.  This may not seem like a big problem at first but as the player can't see which direction the cube is rotating when they jump off it, it becomes somewhat disorienting.  This makes the 2600 version much more difficult than it should be.  Cube rotation problems aside, the 2600 port is pretty good and reproduces the graphics of the arcade game quite nicely.  Unfortunately Q*Bert's Qubes was released right in the middle of the crash and only saw a limited distribution (mostly in Sears and Hills department stores) making it extremely rare today.

Version Cart Text Description
Static screen demo


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