Ever since the early days of Xbox Live Arcade, where arcade classics such as Gauntlet and Robotron: 2084 launched alongside the service, retro classics have been attached at the hip to digital gaming. While now almost every game sees a digital release, it’s still the avenue most often used when attempting to revive a classic property that is looking to regain its past glory. The latest attempt at bringing a once hot arcade property to the forefront of gaming is Q*bert REBOOTED: The XBOX One @!#?@! Edition.
If you find the name a bit strange, it’s actually referencing the digitized vulgarities that Q*bert shouts upon death. The name will make perfect sense over time as you’ll grow all too familiar with the swearing. Since you’ll be dying quite often in both of the modes found in Q*bert REBOOTED.
Like a wedding, Q*bert REBOOTED features something old and new in its package. Players will be able to play the arcade original, which dates back to 1982, and a brand new adventure for the extremely peculiar titular character. No matter which one you play, though, the gameplay stays identical. Not much has changed here, for better or for worse.
The goal for Q*bert is still the exact same in 2016 as it was in 1982: jump on every platform on the map while avoiding baddies. Jumping on each square area (or hexagonal in the new mode) will change its color, and your goal is to ultimately color the map in one shade. Sometimes this will take multiple jumps on each square, but most of the time a single touch will do.
It was a simple idea in 1982, and it’s incredibly dull by today’s standards. There isn’t much of a puzzle element to the game, although sometimes a twist will be added such as colors changing every time you touch them instead of stopping at the desired question. The core idea, though, hasn’t evolved in over 30 years. That’s a bit of a problem.
What made similar retro revivals, such as Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, such a success is that they managed to iterate on the ideas of their predecessors, while also staying true to the original spirit. Q*bert REBOOTED has none of that drive, and none of the ambition to do anything more than just giving players more Q*bert. That isn’t bad in its own right, but it’s incredibly disappointing when the game has aged so poorly.
In the new mode, players are presented with 40 different levels of Q*bert action. Each level consists of three different stages that you have to clear, and each stage is essentially the same. Sometimes different enemies will spawn, but you’re essentially clearing the same board design three times. Each level only takes about 2 minutes to successfully complete, so this isn’t a super long package (although you probably won’t want to see it through to the end, regardless).
While the gameplay is essentially the same, each stage does have three objectives to complete. Sadly, these don’t really make the game any more interesting, as they simply ask the player to complete the game within a time limit, and to reach a high score. Players earn stars for completing these objectives, though, and they are needed to continue progressing through the mode.
Another new addition is that blue gems will appear on the playfield. These are completely optional collectibles that can be used to unlock new characters. There are some wacky additions such as a Q*nicorn, and while they do give players some reason to care about playing, they sadly play exactly the same as Q*bert.
The real upside to unlocking these new characters is that they help spice up what is visually a very bland looking product. Q*bert doesn’t need great graphics, but every level’s background being set in space is beyond boring. Some fun locales would’ve gave the game some character, at least.
Another major issue is how the game controls. Since you’re constantly jumping at angles, you end up jumping the wrong way quite often and into a bottomless pit. While it made sense for the original game to allow players to jump in the wrong direction and die, since they wanted gamers to keep spending quarters, it makes zero sense in a retail product. This adds a ton of artificial difficulty to the game, and when you’re dying due to poor controls instead of enemies, you’ll just end up being frustrated. In fact, you’ll be swearing alongside Q*bert. At least, he’s relatable.
Sadly, Q*bert REBOOTED: The XBOX One @!#?@! Edition is a retro revival gone wrong. There were probably good intentions going into the reboot, but the game needed to evolve in a big way in the past 30 years. Instead, we’ve received a disappointing entry that digs Q*bert’s grave rather than resuscitate him.
A Xbox One copy of Q*bert REBOOTED: The XBOX One @!#?@! Edition was provided by the publisher. To learn more about our score, read our review policy.