Let's Take A Look At Q*bert by Parker Brothers


How Do You Make A Board Game Out Of An Arcade Classic?

Article by Jonathan Imberi

From the box:
Q*bert A Board Game Based on the Exciting Arcade Game

[Ages] 7 to 14

[Number of players] 2

· game board
· 7 character playing pieces (Q*bert, Coily, Slick, Red Ball, Green Ball, Ugg, Wrong Way)
· 3 flying discs
· 1 six-sided die
· 1 eight-sided die
· 1 character die
· Q*bert secret die-rolling tube
· 28 pegs

[Approximate playing time] 15 to 30 minutes

Be on the of the “noser elite” by collecting more pegs than your opponent. First you’re Q*bert, moving around the pyramid trying to get as many pegs as you can. But watch out! Your opponent controls the “nasty” characters that want to stop you. Will they succeed, or will you escape from them? Collect all the pegs you can, then let your opponent take a turn as Q*bert. Now you control the “nasty” characters – can you stop your opponent from getting more pegs than you? The Q*bert who collects more pegs is the winner.

Rules of the game:
Click to view the Instruction Booklet (in PDF format)

After unpacking the game it is easy to identify all the major elements from the 1982 arcade game hit. The unmistakable isometric platform of colored cubes is here as large and as bright as ever. The pyramid was not modified to fit the board game and contains all 28 cubes with yellow, red and blue sides. In the arcade game each cube would change colors as Q*bert landed upon it. The board game version represents the change by removing small white pegs that fit into holes on the top of each cube. The pegs are removed as Q*bert lands on each cube. The infamous colored Flying Discs that wisk Q*bert to safety are also included and are represented by colorful stickers applied to a black disc shaped piece with a peg in the bottom.

Q*bert is here in all his glory although he appears in the form of a sticker applied to a very generic traditional yellow playing piece. All of the “nasty” characters (Coily, Slick, Red Ball, Green Ball, Wrong Way and Ugg) that chase and harass Q*bert are also present and represented by stickers on the same generic yellow playing pieces with the exception of Wrong Way and Ugg. The latter use the same black disc shaped piece as the Flying Discs.  

Game play follows very close to the arcade game allowing for alternate play. Players take turns playing as Q*bert while the other plays as the “Nasty” characters. There are 3 dice: one six sided, one eight sided and one character die. The eight sided die is used in conjunction with included secret die-rolling tube to move Q*bert. Q*bert does not have to move all of the spaces indicated by the roll and can instead save any remaining moves as escaping moves. Q*bert collects the pegs from the cubes he lands on. The character die and six sided die are used by the other player to move the indicated “nasty” character. There are too many movement related rules to explain here, so I will leave that to the instructions, but suffice to say that once you have them down you will find it follows the arcade game almost perfectly. Once Q*bert has been captured by one of the “nasty” characters the board resets and the players switch roles. The game ends after both players have had their turn as Q*bert. The player who has collected the most pegs during their turn as Q*bert wins. 

I think this may be the best arcade game to board game conversion I have ever played. With the exception of the playing pieces, Parker Brothers really outdid themselves in truly reproducing the all of the elements of the arcade game. Now it must be said that in doing so they also made for a very large learning curve. It will take quite a few games before one is completely comfortable with all the movement rules, but in the end you are rewarded with a very accurate arcade game experience.

This game is as true to the arcade as it can be and should have a great replay value with any Q*bert fan!

Remember: when Pac-Man’s away, the ghosts will play! Wocka! Wocka!