That foul mouthed 80’s arcade icon has finally come to the Vita in Q*bert: Rebooted, which takes a classic game and gives it a modern twist. The core game mechanics remain in place, but they’ve been enhanced with certain features games have acquired over the years. Well, honestly, “enhanced” isn’t quite the right word. It’s more like they took something that was clean, simple, and fun and ruined it by adding too much extraneous stuff.. Q*bert: Rebooted is a mess of a game with a silver lining. It has caused me to curse in frustration more than when Q*bert gets bitten by Coily!
Q*bert: Rebooted is actually two games in one. The first is Q*bert Classic, which is a direct recreation of the original arcade game. The second is a modern take on Q*bert called Q*bert: Rebooted which features upgraded graphics, a new layout, and infinitely more problems.
Both games play the same however. You control Q*bert, a hopping orange ball of fuzz with a big nose. The goal is to hop from grid to grid and change their colors while avoiding obstacles that fall your way. These include items such as deadly red balls or the infamous purple snake known as Coily. Sometimes the best way to avoid trouble is to hop on a rainbow disc which takes you back to the top of the platform and out of harm’s way.
Once the stage is cleared, you move on to another platform with a whole new set of obstacles. New enemies and power-ups gradually get introduced as the game progresses. The goals will also change because soon instead of having to jump on a grid once, you now need to do it twice. The strategy involved in moving Q*bert to the right place at the right time is a challenge that been enjoyed by gamers for decades, and much of that fun still remains.
Before getting all critical, I want to point out some of the strengths found in this game. Namely, Q*bert Classic is a near perfect port of the arcade machine I used to pump quarter after quarter into when I was young. The way it looks, the way it sounds is so spot on that I started having arcade flashbacks. The controls work really well as you use the left analogue stick to move throughout the board. You can also use the D-pad if you prefer, or (and this was cool) the touchscreen.
The only complaint I can find is that there’s no easy way to pause the game. Perhaps the biggest frustration though is that pressing Circle will immediately quit your game without warning and bring you back to the main screen. All your progress is instantly wiped away.
Q*bert Classic is just as challenging and difficult as it has always been. It’s the same old game on the Vita but now with trophy support.
Then there’s Q*bert: Rebooted… sigh. Where to begin…?
The visuals have been enhanced, as well as the audio, to bring the game into the high definition generation. It’s hard to argue that it’s definitely an improvement and everything from the character animations to the rainbow discs all look much better.
But they change a number of things, added a few more, and these changes seem to get in the way more than anything.
The first and most important is that the grid has changed from jumping on square blocks to six-sided hexagonal ones. The theory here is that it provides more options for the player to move about the board. That’s the theory, but the reality is that it makes controlling Q*bert next to impossible. Now with six directions to choose from, the controls become extremely finicky and downright broken. This leads to your little guy more often than not jumping in the wrong direction and straight to his death. On some levels I held the stick down and he hopped down, down, down, and then off to the left for no reason and dead! Truly one of those “You’ve got to be kidding me!!” moments.
This can be compensated for somewhat by using the touchscreen, but even that’s not a comfortable solution.
Rebooted also changes the layout of the levels and adds goals to each stage. Completing goals will earn you stars, and you’ll need to collect a number of stars to progress higher through the game. Many games do this nowadays, and it is quickly becoming one of my biggest pet peeves. The worst part about it is that you can’t earn more than one star on a single play-through. Grrrr.
The first time you finish a level you get a star for completing it. Then you’re tasked with finishing it within a certain time. Now, even if you finished it quickly the first time, you don’t get that star. You have to play each level three times to get everything. Three times with horribly finicky controls. The frustration mounts.
Then after awhile it becomes glaringly obvious that each of the levels feels nearly identical to the one before it. They’re smaller than the classic levels and are completed much quicker. The repetition starts to get a little dull after awhile. Suddenly you’re replaying a level three times to earn the stars only to move on to another identical level that you have to once again play through three times to get all the stars to move on to another… At this point, the frustration of controlling Q*bert seems to exist just to break up the monotony.
Some other additions that are included in the Reboot are new characters that you can unlock with gems you collect in the stages. It does nothing to change the way the game plays, but it gives you the chance to play with someone who isn’t just an orange ball of fluff.
The game is Cross-buy with the PS3 and PS4, but for some reason is not compatible with the PlayStation TV.
Q*bert: Rebooted is a hot mess of a game. On the one hand you have an amazing port of the arcade classic while on the other you have an attempt to modernize it which ends up failing at every turn. Personally, I think Q*Bert: Rebooted is worth it just for the classic port alone, but as a whole it’s a @!#?@! frustration.