Those who grew up with the iconic ’80s arcade character, Q*Bert, can relive those memories with Jack’s Bouncy Qubes, a new arcade puzzler for the PC that – while far from ground-breaking – it does build upon the classic cube-hopping concept.
In case you’ve never played a game of Q*Bert, you control a cute little character who must hop around on a 3-D board, changing each cube to a specific color. Power-ups can be collected and dangerous obstacles must be avoided. In Jack’s Bouncy Qubes, the round purple protagonist, Jack, must not only bounce on cubes to change their color but also link adjoining cubes so that at least four touching ones are of the same color, which then activates a timer and blows them up a few seconds later; the more cubes you have as part of this combination the closer you’ll reach your minimum number of combos per level. If you don’t move off the soon-to-be-exploding cubes fast enough you’ll fall through the board and lose a life.
As explained in the instructions, there’s a pattern in which the cubes change color after you jump on it: orange turns to yellow, yellows turns to green, green turns to blue, blue turns to pink, pink turns to red, red turns to orange – and the loop begins again. It doesn’t seem to matter what color you match on the board to create an exploding combination, but at least three adjoining cubes need to be the same for the timer to begin the countdown. Gamers can use the four arrow keys to control Jack or click on the desired cube with the mouse.
Bonus items – such as diamonds, gold, emeralds, rubies, sapphires and coins – can be collected by bouncing on them, with more points awarded when you create a combo with bonus items on it.
Sounds like fun, and it is for a while, but there really isn’t much more to the game than this. That is, while it takes the Q*Bert concept to another level, it doesn’t really build upon this core cube-exploding formula. As a result, after level 6 or 7 I didn’t feel much like continuing.
Also, the game instructions can be confusing, perhaps due to the some awkward Spanish-to-English translation. An example: “If a qube caught up in explotion, have the same color of the original combination, they start a chain reaction and explode too!” Huh? Fortunately, a few minutes of play and you’ll understand what to do.
Along with the main Arcade mode, where there’s a time limit to complete each level, the game also offers a Free Mode (no time limit), Survival mode (a faster-paced spin on the game for more experienced players) and Puzzle mode (where you must match the pattern given, such as a green line or a blue square). In total the game boasts 150 unique levels spread between the four modes, with two levels of difficulty. The game also allows you to save your progress and resume where you left off.
Younger or novice players might enjoy playing Jack’s Bouncy Qubes, but the game barely hovers above mediocrity. If you were a fan of Q*Bert in the ’80s you might want to download the try-before-you-buy demo to see if you find it a hopping good time or if you got your fix with the free 60-minute trial.