Yes Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that dreams don’t come true. Back in May, I took to Twitter to lament about the total lack of Q*Bert in my life:
Why hasn't anyone brought back Q*Bert? What the hell, whoever owns Q*Bert? (apparently @SonyPictures??)
— Jim Squires (@jimmycanuck) May 1, 2014
And now, a mere two months later, it’s a thing. Q*Bert Rebooted has just hit Steam (and will be arriving on mobile devices later this year), packaging together a great version of the arcade original alongside a brand new interpretation of the formula, Q*Bert Rebooted.
One of these is exactly what you want it to be. The other is pretty close.
Classic Q*Bert, as you might have suspected, is the version that managed to surpass our wildest expectations. The game hasn’t been available since a brief 2007 appearance on the PlayStation Network, and even then, Q*Bert felt like one of those games that I was remembering through rose-colored glasses. Since that time I’ve had the pleasure of revisiting in the arcade, and in both cases the result was the same — getting the little bugger to jump from square to square exactly as intended proved to be too damned hard with the controls available.
Q*Bert Rebooted has fixed this problem purely by way of input: you’ll tell Q*Bert where to go with a simple click of the mouse.
It may sound like a minor change, but for someone in my shoes (with a soft-spot for the franchise but a frustration for how its controls were designed), the difference is night and day. The game is still brutally difficult, but at least now you’ll feel responsible for your deaths and won’t chalk it up to poor design. Q*Bert Classic in Q*Bert: Rebooted is, for me at least, the definitive version of the game.
We haven’t had a chance to go hands-on with the mobile version yet, but so long as it registers taps as intended, we can’t help but think it will play just as dreamily.
The second game, the titular Q*Bert Rebooted, is good fun in its own right. The developers took a rather bold step and changed the playing field from a series of squares to a series of hexagons. This means that Q*Bert will have six possible paths instead of four to travel.
Initially this makes Rebooted feel like Q*Bert on training wheels, as the added paths result in fewer life-threatening situations. As the game goes on, though, you’ll find that the hexagons have been used to create complicated layouts that wouldn’t have been possible in a four-sided world. The challenge is still there — it just takes a little time to uncover.
The real sticking point, though, is in how much of a pain it can be to unlock the stages that lie ahead. Q*Bert Rebooted operates on the “three star” system that we’ve seen endlessly since Angry Birds. You’ll earn one star for completing a level, one for reaching a certain score, and one for doing it in a set amount of time. But here’s the problem — you can’t earn them all at once.
To earn all three stars on a level you’ll have to play it three separate times. If these were just frippery — just bravado for bragging rights — it wouldn’t be a problem. But future levels are gated behind players earning a set number of stars. So yeah… you’ll be stuck replaying levels whether you like it or not.
On the upside, every time you complete a level you’ll get to play a quick bonus level to earn gems that you can spend on costume swaps for Mr. Q. And while they’re purely cosmetic, who doesn’t love the idea of Q*Bot, Q*Zilla, or Q*nicorn?
As a complete package, Q*Bert Rebooted is a no-brainer for long time Q*Bert fans. Q*Bert Classic alone would be worth the price of admission, but its bundled together with a fresh new take on the series that’s well worth a look (even if the stars-situation is a shame).
As Q*Bert might say, you’d be @!#?@! to pass this one up.