Remember the Old Classic ‘Q*bert’?
There are so many arcade machines that remind you of the good old gaming days, it’s hard to keep track of them all. But as soon as you spot the graphics of an old favorite, the memories come rushing back. Does the name Q*bert ring a bell? It should, as Q*bert was one of the most memorable arcade cabinets from the arcade’s golden age. Today, Q*bert is a rare collectible, especially the cocktail arcade table versions of the popular game.
Gottlieb’s Success Story
Gottlieb was an arcade game manufacturing company based in Chicago. They started out making coin-operated pinball machines, but the business soon grew into making solid state cabinets and producing their own titles. Columbia Pictures bought Gottlieb in 1976. In 1982, Gottlieb released their hit game, Q*bert, and it became an instant success, selling 25,000 cabinets.
Q*bert is a 2D game with isometric graphics. Game players control their character with a joystick and try to hop onto each cube to change its color, avoiding enemy attacks and obstacles in their way. Arcade goers love Q*bert for his attitude when caught by enemies. He lets loose a digitized, unrecognizable “swear,” appearing as a thought bubble of characters above his head.
In 1983, Q*bert was named both “Most Innovate” and “Funniest,” and while not as successful as the Pac-man franchise, still spawned high merchandise sales and became well-known in popular culture. Sadly, the game’s creators – Warren Davis and Jeff Lee – received no royalties from the game’s success, only the company itself.
Columbia Pictures retained the rights to Q*bert, and Sony Pictures bought out Columbia in 1989. Q*bert has since appeared as a character in Disney’s 2012 film Wreck-It Ralph, an animated comedy about a rebel arcade game villain. Q*bert is also set to appear in the film Pixels, to be released in 2015. Android TV just released a version of the game as an app, and the challenge of Q*bert lives on.