Also On: PS4, PS3
Publisher: LOOT Entertainment
Developer: LOOT Entertainment
There’s no denying that Q*Bert occupies a pretty important place in video game history. It was one of the very first platformers back in 1982, albeit in a form that’s quite different from how platformers look today. While the genre may have evolved beyond its simple design very, very quickly, you can still draw a line down through Mario, Sonic, Rayman, etc., that begins with the first Q*Bert game. Considering the retro trend of the last few years, it kind of makes sense for the game to be resurrected.
Not only that, it fits in neatly with the whole micro-platformer genre that games like Super Meat Boy have popularized. Each level takes up a single screen, and the general structure never varies at all. There are subtle differences between them (that obviously get less subtle and a lot more difficult as the game progresses), but Q*Bert Rebooted is a lot more about mastering quick movements than it is about getting from Point A to Point B.
All of which is to say, I understand why Q*Bert Rebooted exists. That, of course, is very different from saying that it should exist — and quite frankly, after playing it, I’m not sure that it should.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a terrible game. It’s pretty faithful to the original Q*Bert — a point driven home by the game’s inclusion of Q*Bert Classic. But that’s also the major issue: regardless of whether you’re playing the original or the rebooted versions, it’s pretty much the same game that existed 30+ years ago. And while that was undoubtedly a revelation then, it’s not nearly as impressive now.
The problem is that all those other franchises Q*Bert helped birth surpassed it in every way imaginable. While I understand how transgressive it must have seemed for the titular character to swear every time it loses a life thirty years ago, a bunch of exclamation points and question marks seems pretty quaint today. Likewise, while the notion of jumping from block to block was clearly groundbreaking back when very few other games were doing it, you can imagine how basic it seems today.
And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with basic. Micro-platformers have shown how possible it is to do a lot with very little. But they also have shown how much more there is to do than simply jumping up and down in four different directions.
They’ve also shown just how precise controls can get, which isn’t a lesson Q*Bert Rebooted has taken to heart at all. This game only works really well when you’re asked to jump up, down, left or right; try going diagonally, and you’re essentially taking a roll of the dice on whether it will work.
To be sure, I think it’s neat that Q*Bert’s developers decided to bring the classic game to a generation who’ve probably never seen it outside of being a side character in Wreck-It Ralph a few years ago. And I’m grateful that they didn’t try and give it some insane makeover, a la Bomberman. But they also didn’t demonstrate why the game had to be reborn — sorry, “Rebooted” — for the modern era, when everything about it makes it clear it probably should’ve stayed in the past.