Another arcade port (Q*bert was a Gottlieb game), 5200 Q*bert is quite the fun game, with its only concession being its control setup. 5200 Q*bert's graphics are average -- Q*bert has only holes in his head for 'eyes'; Coily and the gang are blockier than their coin-op counterparts; and sometimes the colors can make your eyes cross as you attempt to focus on 'which side of the cube is UP'. Still, this version is probably the best of its day, especially if you compare it with 2600 Q*bert's stunted animation.

Although there are some nice between-level reward tunes, some important sound FX have been omitted. Q*bert's great 'cussing' is audibly gone; in fact (as expected), all the muttered voices are absent here. The worst sound omission is the sound of the disk that Q*bert jumps on -- there's no sound! Just silence as he rides them to the top of the screen! Personally, I feel that much of the arcade game's charm is lost due to the watered down sound.

Although I'm disappointed by the sounds, the gameplay is top notch. You hop Q*bert around in the 4 diagonal directions, changing the colors of the cubes as you jump on them. The rules change every 4 levels. In the first round, you only need jump once on a cube to get it to the destination color. Then in level two, you have to jump on a cube twice, changing it from orginal color, to an intermediate color, and finally to the destination color. Eventually, if you jump on a destination-color cube again, it will revert back to either the original or intermediate colors, so you have to carefully control where you hop to finish a level!

Compared to the arcade version (which you can get on PSX and Dreamcast these days thanks to Hasbro!), the 5200 version only has a few minor differences in gameplay. First of all, only one Ugg and one Wrongway will appear in 5200 Q*bert, as opposed to multiples in the original coin-op.Some of the Disk placement is a bit different at times, and Coily's tendencies are different (for example, in the coin-op version, he tended to take the upper route to get to you, but seems to take the lower route more in 5200 Q*bert). Not to get anal-retentive here, but I thought it was worth mentioning!

Control can get tricky with the analog stick -- you must both press your direction and a lower fire button to move, a necessary evil. 5200 Frogger also adopted this control scheme, and to be honest, I got used to it quickly and I have no problems with it. The 2600 version's control was funky in its own way too, because you had to rotate the joystick 45 degrees to accomodate Q*bert's diagaonal movements. Diagonal control is tough on any controller!

You haven't really seen what 5200 Q*bert can do until you get to level 6. Level 6 (and so on) maintains level 5's rules of 2 jumps and a return to the original cube color if you jump on it a 3rd time. However, the speed is DOUBLED!! It's frantic, and really fun! Give Q*bert many, many plays through, and I bet you'll get attached to it. I recommend the game!

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