I am a sucker for nostalgia; especially when it comes to 80's video games. I was fortunate enough to grow up in that wonderful and interesting decade and there are things from that time that will stick with me forever. Being on Retro Junk allows me to embellish on my 80's memories, so I thought I'd take a stab at an article and see how it flows. I'd like to take the time to reflect on an 80's video game that has a permanent stamp in my memory bank and has brought some special memories into my life.

This video game I am speaking of is my buddy "Q*Bert," that quirky round little alien with a nose he could use for a pogo stick.

The classic arcade game "Q*bert," came out in 1982 by Gottlieb and featured 3-D graphics. Q*Bert's objective is to hop around on a pyramid of cubes all the while changing each cube into a different color when stomping on it until the whole pyramid of cubes is the same color. But there are obstacles in Q*Bert's way. There is Coily the purple snake who wants to grab him up. Then there is Slick, who I believe is the little purple dude with spiked hair whose job is to basically hop around and change the colors of the cubes to mess Q*Bert up. And who can forget the random red balls that knock Q*Bert on the head causing him to cuss in his trademark alien gibberish? However, if Q*Bert gets in a jam, there are multi-colored discs that make funny zoom-swishing noises that he can jump on to, to transport him to a safer area.

Q*Bert is one of the first video games I can remember. I was probably about 3 years old when I was first introduced to it. My dad used to take me to "Games ETC.," a video arcade in our local mall. Back then, I had no idea what a video game was let alone know how to play one. I got a kick more out of watching the demos on the screen. My dad would boost me up so I could see what was going on, and my eyes were met by some of the funniest sights and sounds that I had ever seen at the time.

I remember seeing a blue screen with Q*Bert standing to the left of the screen. He would hop down the screen, and with each hop, credits or past scores would appear. My dad and I would anxiously wait until he reached the bottom of the screen where the red ball would fall from the sky and crack Q*Bert on the head to which he'd cuss a response; always highlighted by a call-out bubble coming out of his mouth with !@#$% in it. Of course at the time, I didn't even know it was cussing. I thought he was just talking.

The sound effects were then and still to this day, a real kick to listen to. Q*Bert's jumping made a weird plopping sound and Coily made this weird loud splat; almost a weird farting noise when hopping around after him. Slick made the same sound effects as Q*Bert, so hearing all of them jumping around at once was quite amusing for a little kid. It was just as amusing to watch Coily fall off of the pyramid, as he would make this deep falling "airrrrrrrr" sound and Q*Bert's fall of the pyramid was met with the sound of a higher falling; "uhhhhhhhhh" sound. But Q*Bert's fall was unique because when he'd fall off the pyramid and land splat somewhere, you'd hear this loud crack in the actual body of the arcade game. Apparently, Q*Bert's fall was highlighted by a mallet in the system that would crack for a cool sound effect. It was pretty trippy.

In 1983, Parker Bros. released "Q*Bert" for people's home entertainment on the Atari 5200.

Apparently, maneuvering Q*Bert was difficult with the joystick, however. I never owned an Atari, so I never got this opportunity, but it sounds like the Atari version was no match for the original arcade version.

That same year, Parker Bros. released Q*Bert on the Atari VCS, a computer system which showed the game with a shorter pyramid, sound effects that couldn't hold a candle to the original, and enemies that did not jump, but rather faded to and from locations. Colecovision, The Commodore 64/128 and Intellivison all included Q*Bert in their libraries in 1983 as well.

Atari VCS



In 1989, Konami and Ultra Games got together to make a Q*Bert game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).

I remember this version of Q*Bert, and at the time, I thought it was going to be just like the arcade original. I was very disappointed when I saw it for the first time. One of my babysitters brought it over to my place and we popped it in my NES. The sound effects were different and not near as funny as the ones from the arcade. The graphics were different too; the arcade version had much more vivid color to the whole game. Even the characters looked and hopped around differently. If I recall, it was a bit slower and it was hard to control. I never really gave the game a chance. I was upset at this version and only played it a couple times before I got discouraged.

Q*Bert made his way through the 80's and into the late 90's. Playstation adopted the game, and in 2000 Game Boy Color and Sega Dreamcast followed suit. Q*Bert has remained a popular icon in video gaming for 26 years now. Wow! Keep going my man! There's nothing I love more than seeing one of my childhood icons remain so popular.

Make no mistake, the Q*Bert 1982 arcade game original was the best one in my opinion. Yes, the original is always pretty cool with any game, and in this case the sound effects, graphics, game play and humor were just better than any other. But you know, there's also something about the old fashioned way of playing video games that makes them more appealing even to this day. That old stand-up arcade-style console just puts the fun of gaming and childhood right back in my heart. That just makes it a sweeter game for me. What's even sweeter are the fond memories of a kid and her dad giggling at the screen demos. Now I can say, 'well back in the day when arcades were hot and bursting with people and energy, my ole' buddy Q*Bert introduced a three year-old to video games and created a forever fond memory for her and her dad.