Sometimes, the simple ideas work best. If a game can be summed up in a fairly succinct sentence, it's a simple game, and in the 80s that was a recipe for success. For example: Run round a maze, eat all the dots, avoid the ememies, repeat ad infinitum. Shoot alien spacecraft before they shoot you. Make horizontal lines out of blocks to prevent them reaching the top of the screen. Or how about turn all the blocks the right colour by bouncing on them, avoiding the enemies?
Well, if that wasn't a giveaway, I don't know what is, because that is basically all you do in Q*Bert. Simples!
Simple doesn't mean easy, though. In fact, it's devilishly hard. First off, the games in a 3D perspective, and the game's physics plays real tricks on you as you progress.
Let's start from the beginning then... You start atop a pyramid made of cubes, and must commence jumping on all the cubes to change them to the correct colour. However, other creatures will soon start to show up, like bouncy balls that will go from top to bottom, trying to intercept you on the way. You'll notice first of all, however, that the purple ball will stop at the bottom, and turn into a relentlessly chasing snake, able to travel in exactly the same way as you... but slower.
There's a way to deal with it, but it's only temporary. The little discs at the side of the maze (you may have noticed them) are acutally lifts that take you back to the top of the pyramid. If you jump on one of these with the snake in pursuit, he will jump off after you, to his death... only to be replaced by another one seconds later. Still, there's bonus points in it for you.
From level 2, it starts to get harder very quickly indeed. Blocks will need 2 or 3 bounces to cycle through colours until you get the right one up, and enemies will start coming from all sides, almost as if gravity to them is sideways rather than downwards. The 3D view does you no favours here as they skip along the sides of cubes, and you try to work out what bloody way they're going, and which way you should go to avoid them.
But that's the game, that's where the real challenge lies, and that's where you'll keep coming back for more, no matter how frustrating you find it; A sign of a great game indeed! Somehow you never tire of seeing the nonsense-swear-word-speech-bubble pop up again and again and again...
Your chances of finding an original working cabinet (complete with solenoid to cause a "bump" inside the cabinet when you or an enemy plummet to your death) are slim, but worth a little effort to find. If you get nowhere, though, there's always MAME.
Finally, is it just me who thinks our hero in this game looks like a bodyless Cyril Sneer from The Raccoons?