|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
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.
|Static screen demo
to 2600 Software