When I was younger there were a few choice video games that I was drawn to when I hit the movie theatre, pizza parlor or especially, the arcade.
Sure I loved Donkey Kong, Asteroids and what seemed to be every girl’s game of choice – Centipede. But there was another little character just as important in my life as everyone’s favorite, the star of the show, Pac Man. He was little, orange and had a little weird snout. He was an excellent jumper and only seemed to speak in incoherent expletives. His name was Q*bert.
Q*bert joined the arcade in 1982. There was a giant pyramid that you needed to help little Q*bert get to the top of – when you’d hop on each of the cubes on your way up they would change colors and you’d move on to different levels of the game. The pyramid itself was pretty high tech for 1983, with a bit of a 3D effect it seemed to jump out a little but at you as you hopped from cube to cube.
The arcade game was played with a joystick and the challenge was trying to avoid his enemies which included a coiled up purple snake, two purple creatures and two green creatures. When you are hit by or run into any of these, you are of course…dead. And swearing in a speech bubble.
Like king Pac Man, Q*bert made his way outside of the arcade appearing on lunch boxes, t-shirts and toys; he even had his own cartoon (naturally) in 1983. Today, whenever I see anything with Q*bert on it I sing the “me and you . . . with Q*bert” line from the theme song over and over in my head. Thanks, Q*bert.
As you can imagine, my brain was playing that song on a loop when Wreck it Ralph came out in 2012. Q*bert was back in the spotlight once again, spouting a string of exclamation points, pound signs and ampersands for a whole new generation.
Just like anything that was great back in the day, they’ve tried to reboot Q*bert – the game Q*berts Cubes was nowhere near as popular as the original and several versions have appeared on different home video game systems, mobile devices and phones.
But nothing comes close to the original: the early 80s arcade version. Move over Centipede, today I would choose the joystick over the rollerball – I’d give my quarters to Q*bert.