Third in my new series of face-offs between classic games on rival consoles. The aim of Head2Head is not to say which console I think is the greatest (all consoles have their own particular strengths and weaknesses), but rather to examine the same game released for rival consoles and to say in the fairest possible way which I think was the best at the time. In this episode we feature the isometric craziness that is Q-Bert, originally developed by Gottlieb and ported to home formats by Parker Bros. First released in 1982 on the Atari VCS and released the following year on ColecoVision, Intellivision and Videopac. It has since seen versions on Commodore 64 (1983), NES (1989), Game Boy (1989), PlayStation (1999), Game Boy Color (2000) and Dreamcast (2000).
If we are to start with the worst then there is no doubt that the G7000 version has got to be first, just what were they thinking? The Philips guys haven’t even made an effort to represent the games fundamental feature; it’s isometric cubes. Instead we are given small rectangles. Not to mention the game characters have been re-invented (what is that thing that looks like a hand?). Lame.
The Atari 2600 version’s graphics aren’t bad at all considering the units technical limitations, with a decent rendition of the pyramid (although a bit two dimensional looking for me) and game characters. The technical limitations of the machine do mean that the pyramid is only 6 blocks high, and 1 less row of blocks makes for a much smaller play area, this problem also afflicts the Intellivision version. The 2600 version is also the only version of the four that doesn’t indicate what colour to change a block to. The Intellivision version looks a bit ‘squashed’ with the ‘cubes’ looking taller than they are wide, but it’s colourful and the characters are good considering the resolution. Only the ColecoVision version matches the arcade game with any accuracy with a full size pyramid (OK so the G7000 has but we’ve discounted that right?), accurate character sprites and arcade-like resolution. Graphically, ColecoVision is easily the winner.
The G7000 was never going to cut it in the sound department and is the clear loser. The 2600 fairs a bit better with some good sound effects but its TIA chip isn’t up to emulating Arcade sounds accurately and it just doesn’t sound anything like the original. The Intellivision and ColecoVision are in a different league here. Right from the opening music they both sound impressive with the ColecoVision making some ground during gameplay. Another win for ColecoVision.
With the G7000 being handicapped by gruesome graphics and sound that makes your ears bleed, the gameplay didn’t stand a chance. I don’t think anyone would (could?) play it long enough to find out frankly. The other three all play pretty well actually, even the 2600 with its inferior graphics and sound makes for a decent game, but there can only be one winner and that’s the version that accurately portrays the arcade original in nearly every way. Yes, it’s the ColecoVision. Parker Bros have managed to somehow shoehorn the entire arcade machine into a cartridge here, no mean feat when you think that this is 1983, and its a home console. Accurate graphics, sounds and gameplay make this a must-have game for the CBS machine and means that ColecoVision wraps up with a clean sweep.