Video Game of The Week: Q*bert for Odyssey Two
Remember that fuzzy little orange guy with the big nose in the arcades of the early 1980s? If so, you’re old. Just kidding! But Q*bert was a funny looking character, and the video game based around that character was quite fun itself. But did you know there was a home version of Q*bert for the Odyssey two system.
The glory days of the arcades, mainly the late 1970s through the mid-1980s, was full of colorful characters. You had the likes of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong, just to name a couple. Then in 1982 the company known as Gottlieb came out with a new arcade game called Q*bert which featured a little, round orange character with big eyes, a funny-looking nose, and little legs but no arms.
Q*bert became quite the hit game in the arcades, so much so the Q*bert character became recognizable to much of the world. Eventually there were sequel games to Q*bert, and even an animated cartoon show for a while.
If you’re not familiar with Q*bert, it’s a fun little game. The player controls the Q*bert character as it jumps around on a pyramid, and each time Q*bert lands on top of a cube that is part of the pyramid that cube changes color. The goal is to get all the pyramid’s cubes to be a particular color. Sounds like a simple game? Don’t worry, because it gets more complicated. While jumping around on this pyramid, Q*bert has to dodge balls falling from above, monsters who chase after him and a snake that spring around all over the board. Two floating discs, one on either side of the pyramid, allow Q*bert an opportunity to temporarily escape its foes by taking Q*bert back to the top of the pyramid and away from immediate danger.
It was a great, fun game, though for some gamers it took a little getting used to the controls because the joystick was made to have Q*bert jump at angles and not move directly left or right nor up and down.
Because of Q*bert’s popularity, the video game was ported to many of the home gaming consoles of the early 1980s, including the Magnavox Odyssey 2, which also went by the name of the Philips Videopac outside of the U.S.
The Odyssey 2 never sported that many third-party games, meaning games made by companies other than the creators of the Odyssey 2, but there were a handful. The company Parker Brothers released some games for the Odyssey 2, and Q*bert was one of them.
The version of Q*bert for the Odyssey 2 was kind of a mixed back for gamers. It had all the elements of the arcade game, including an introduction scene that explains how to play and some decent sounds, but the graphics just weren’t all that good, at least not compared to the arcade game and most of the other console versions. Immediately noticeable is the fact the cubes on the pyramid don’t like like cubes, but more like flattened squares. Then there’s the colorful discs on the sides of the pyramid; here, they’re not very colorful. The graphics for the Q*bert characters itself are passable, though nothing special, as are those for Q*bert’s enemies.
Fortunately, the quality of play for the Odyssey 2 version of Q*bert was quite strong, much like that of the arcade version. And it helped that the Odyssey 2’s joysticks were of the eight-direction variety, making it much easier than more stiff joysticks (such as those with the Atari 2600) in controlling Q*bert as it bounced around the screen.
Overall, I’d have to say Q*bert for the Odyssey 2 was fun to play, but I wish it had had better graphics, though admittedly graphics were not a strength of this home gaming system.
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