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Q*bert is a remake of the 1982 arcade game of the same name with 3D graphics. It was developed by Artech Studios and released by Hasbro Interactive (under the Atari brand name) on the PlayStation and Microsoft Windows in 1999 and on the Dreamcast in 2000.


Q*bert has three modes of play. Classic is like the original Q*bert, and the graphics can be changed from Retro to Modern. The Adventure mode takes Q*bert to 3D dimensions, and contains power ups and all new characters set in four worlds, with Q*bert aiming to rescue his friends from Coily. Head to Head is a multiplayer mode.

Q*bert (/ˈkjuːbərt/; also known as Qbert) is an arcade video game developed and published for the North American market by Gottlieb in 1982. It is a 2D action game with puzzle elements that uses isometric graphics to create a pseudo-3D effect. The objective of each level in the game is to change every cube in a pyramid to a target color by making Q*bert, the on-screen character, hop on top of the cube while avoiding obstacles and enemies. Players use a joystick to control the character.

The game was conceived by Warren Davis and Jeff Lee. Lee designed the title character and original concept, which was further developed and implemented by Davis. Q*bert was developed under the project name Cubes.[1]

Because the game was developed during the period when Columbia Pictures owned Gottlieb, the intellectual rights to Q*bert remained with Columbia, even after they divested themselves of Gottlieb's assets in 1984. Therefore, the rights have been owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment since its parent, Sony, acquired Columbia in 1989. Q*bert appeared in Disney's Wreck-It Ralph franchise, under license from Sony, and later appeared in the film Pixels.

Q*bert is an action game with puzzle elements played from an axonometric third-person perspective to convey a three-dimensional look. The game is played using a single, diagonally mounted four-way joystick.[2] The player controls Q*bert, who starts each game at the top of a pyramid made of 28 cubes, and moves by hopping diagonally from cube to cube. Landing on a cube causes it to change color, and changing every cube to the target color allows the player to progress to the next stage.[3]

At the beginning, jumping on every cube once is enough to advance. In later stages, each cube must be hit twice to reach the target color. Other times, cubes change color every time Q*bert lands on them, instead of remaining on the target color once they reach it. Both elements are then combined in subsequent stages. Jumping off the pyramid results in the character's death.[4]

A collision with purple enemies is fatal to the character, whereas the green enemies are removed from the board upon contact.[2] Colored balls occasionally appear at the second row of cubes and bounce downward; contact with a red ball is lethal to Q*bert, while contact with a green one immobilizes the on-screen enemies for a limited time.[4] Multicolored floating discs on either side of the pyramid serve as an escape from danger, particularly Coily. When Q*bert jumps on a disc, it transports him to the top of the pyramid. If Coily is in close pursuit of the character, he will jump after Q*bert and fall to his death, awarding bonus points.[2] This causes all enemies and balls on the screen to disappear, though they start to return after a few seconds.

In a different telling, the initial concept began when artist Jeff Lee drew a pyramid of cubes inspired by M. C. Escher.[7] Lee believed a game could be derived from the artwork, and created an orange, armless main character. The character jumped along the cubes and shot projectiles, called "mucus bombs", from a tubular nose at enemies.[8] Enemies included a blue creature, later changed purple and named Wrong Way, and an orange creature, later changed green and named Sam.[1] Lee had drawn similar characters since childhood, inspired by characters from comics, cartoons, Mad magazine and by artist Ed "Big Daddy" Roth.[9] Q*bert's design later included a speech balloon with a string of nonsensical characters, "@!#?@!",[Note 1] which Lee originally presented as a joke.[1]

Warren Davis, who was hired to work on the game Protector,[7] noticed Lee's ideas and asked if he could use them to practice programming randomness and gravity as game mechanics. Thus, he added balls that bounce from the pyramid's top to bottom.[1] Because Davis was still learning how to program game mechanics, he wanted to keep the design simple. He also believed games with complex control schemes were frustrating and wanted something that could be played with one hand. To accomplish this, Davis removed the shooting and changed the objective of saving the protagonist from danger.[9] As Davis worked on the game one night, Gottlieb's vice president of engineering, Ron Waxman, noticed him and suggested to change the color of the cubes after the game's character has landed on them.[7][1][9] Davis implemented a unique control scheme; a four-way joystick was rotated 45 to match the directions of Q*bert's jumping. Staff members at Gottlieb urged for a more conventional orientation, but Davis stuck to his decision.[7][1] Davis remembered to have started programming in April 1982,[6] but the project was only put on the schedule as an actual product several months later.[Note 2]

A MOS Technology 6502 chip that operates at 894 kHz generates the sound effects, and a speech synthesizer by Votrax generates Q*bert's incoherent expressions.[10] The audio system uses 128 B of RAM and 4 KB of EPROM to store the sound data and code to implement it. Like other Gottlieb games, the sound system was thoroughly tested to ensure it would handle daily usage. In retrospect, audio engineer David Thiel commented that such testing minimized time available for creative designing.[11]

As development neared the production stage, Q*bert underwent location tests in local arcades under its preliminary title @!#?@!, before being widely distributed. According to Jeff Lee, his oldest written record attesting to the game being playable as @!#?@! in a public location, a Brunswick bowling alley, dates back to September 11, 1982.[1] Gottlieb also conducted focus groups, in which the designers observed players through a one-way mirror.[1] The control scheme received a mixed reaction during playtesting; some players adapted quickly while others found it frustrating.[1][9] Initially, Davis was worried players would not adjust to the different controls; some players would unintentionally jump off the pyramid several times, reaching a game over in about ten seconds. Players, however, became accustomed to the controls after playing several rounds of the game.[1] The different responses to the controls prompted Davis to reduce the game's level of difficulty, a decision that he would later regret.[9]

Q*bert is Gottlieb's only video game that earned considerable critical and commercial success, selling around 25,000 arcade cabinets.[7] In the United States, it was among the thirteen highest-grossing arcade games of 1983.[20] Cabaret and cocktail versions of the game were later produced. The machines have since become collector's items; the rarest of them are the cocktail versions.[21]

When the game was first introduced to a wider industry audience at the November 1982 AMOA show, it was immediately received favorably by the press. Video Games magazine placed Q*bert first in its list of Top Ten Hits, describing it as "the most unusual and exciting game of the show" and stating that "no operator dared to walk away without buying at least one".[15] The Coin Slot reported "Gottlieb's game, Q*BERT, was one of the stars of the show", and predicted that "The game should do very well".[22]

Contemporaneous reviews were equally enthusiastic, and focused on the uniqueness of the gameplay and audiovisual presentation. Roger C. Sharpe of Electronic Games considered it "a potential Arcade Award winner for coin-op game of the year", praising innovative gameplay and outstanding graphics.[3] William Brohaugh of Creative Computing Video & Arcade Games described the game as an "all-round winner" that had many strong points. He praised the variety of sound effects and the graphics, calling the colors vibrant. Brohaugh lauded Q*bert's inventiveness and appeal, stating that the objective was interesting and unique.[13] Michael Blanchet of Electronic Fun suggested the game might push Pac-Man out of the spotlight in 1983.[2] Neil Tesser of Video Games also likened Q*bert to Japanese games like Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, due to the focus on characters, animation and story lines, as well as the "absence of violence".[8] Computer and Video Games magazine praised the game's graphics and colors.[5]

Q*bert continues to be recognized as a significant part of video game history. Author Steven Kent and GameSpy's William Cassidy considered Q*bert one of the more memorable games of its time.[25][26] Author David Ellis echoed similar statements, calling it a "classic favorite".[27]'s Jeremy Parish and Kim Wild of Retro Gamer magazine described the game as difficult yet addictive.[1][28] Author John Sellers also called Q*bert addictive, and praised the sound effects and three-dimensional appearance of the graphics.[12] Cassidy called the game unique and challenging; he attributed the challenge in part to the control scheme.[26] IGN's Jeremy Dunham believed the controls were poorly designed, describing them as "unresponsive" and "a struggle". He nonetheless considered the game addictive.[29]

Edge magazine attributed the success of the game to the title character. They stated that players could easily relate to Q*bert, particularly because he swore.[9] Computer and Video Games, however, considered the swearing a negative but the character appealing.[5] Cassidy believed the game's appeal lay in the main character. He described Q*bert as cute and having a personality that made him stand out in comparison to other popular video game characters.[26] The authors of High Score! referred to Q*bert as "ultra-endearing alien hopmeister", and the cutest game character of 1982.[30] 041b061a72


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