Company: Parker Bros.
Model #:
Year: 1983
Port of the 1982 arcade game


The 80's introduced us to many odd ball and zany characters, from that giant gorilla known as Donkey Kong, to that odd yellow eating machine known as Pac-Man.  While many of these characters live on in the modern age, some weren't that lucky.  Q*Bert, with his round orange body an oversized nose, made him a cuddly icon of the 1980's.  Not only did Q*Bert enjoy success in the arcades, but he was also the star of a short lived cartoon (think Archie but with Q*Bert characters).  Unfortunately as Q*Bert soon found out, fame is fleeting.  After his arcade sequel didn't perform nearly as well as the original, Q*Bert tried to make an unsuccessful comeback in the mid 90's (Q*Bert 3 for the SNES), but was quickly forgotten.  This is a shame, as the Q*Bert character had a lot of potential.  I guess he was just a little too wacky for his own good (his swearing habit didn't help much either).


The basic idea behind Q*Bert is simple, jump on each of the cubes an turn them to the proper color.  This may sound easy, but as you might have guessed, there are some obstacles in your way.  As you hop your way around the pyramid, you will need to watch out for the deadly Red and Purple Balls, Coily the snake, and that little green trouble maker Sam.  Each one of these odd ball bad guys is out to make sure you don't have a happy day.  To make your life even more difficult, later levels require multiple jumps to make the proper color appear, and colors may revert back to normal if you jump on the cube too many times.  But all is not lost, for Q*Bert has two weapons at his disposal.  Located on the sides of the screen are two flying discs that Q*Bert can hop on for a quick escape back to the top of the pyramid.  If you're crafty enough, you can trick Coily into jumping off the pyramid in a futile attempt to chase you.  Q*Bert's second weapon comes in the shape of a Green Ball.  If Q*Bert can grab the Green Ball he can hop around unmolested by baddies for a few seconds.  Cherish these moments, as they'll come few and far between.


The Atari 5200 port of Q*Bert is a pretty good port.  It manages to capture the look and feel of the arcade game (although Q*Bert's cold dead eyes are a bit disturbing), and best of all it plays really well.  The biggest problem with the 5200 version are the controls.  Q*Bert used a somewhat unique control scheme which required the player to push in diagonal directions instead of the standard up/down/left/right.  On the arcade machine the controller was already fixed so that it moved only in diagonals, but on the home ports the instruction manual suggested that players rotate the controller so it diamond shaped to help get the feeling for how Q*Bert moved.  This worked well with square controllers, but since the 5200 controllers were not square, this method couldn't be used.  Instead, the player must hold down the fire button before moving.  This was to help prevent Q*Bert from moving accidentally due to the non-centering 5200 controller.  While this method works, it's clunky and makes the game more difficult than it should be.


While it may not look as nice as some the ports made for more powerful systems, the 5200 version of Q*Bert is a solid port.  If one can get around the control issues, there are hours of fun to be had.  However since the ports are practically identical, the best way to play the 5200 version of Q*Bert is actually on the 400/800 where the 5200's odd controller won't hinder your fun.


Version Cart Text Description
?/??/83 Atari 5200 QBERU 8K RLS.1 Final Version


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