25 Features

Retro Vault: Pit-Fighter, Splatterhouse, Q*bert

Plus: SNES price protests and the Colecovision

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Summer 1983 - Q*bert magazine ad

If you think video game characters today have filthy mouths, you obviously don't remember the frankly inappropriate Q*bert.

He was the star of the titular Q*bert, an arcade game developed and published by Gottlieb in late 1982 (and ported the following year to nearly every system known at the time).

In it, Q*bert had to hop his way up and down a pyramid of cubes. Every time he landed on a cube its surface changed colour, so the goal was to recolour the entire pyramid by jumping onto every cube.

Naturally, there were enemies trying to prevent Q*bert from doing this, ranging from weird red blobs to coiled purple snakes. If any of them hit him, not only would Q*bert lose a life, he'd also utter a string of obscenities that would make a gangster blush.

Thankfully, because Q*bert spoke an alien language, the player didn't know what these obscenities were, only instead seeing a speech bubble that read "@!#?@!". In this case, it would appear, somebody did think of the children.

Q*bert has been out of action for quite a while though, a fact that was referenced in Disney's video game movie Wreck-It Ralph. In one scene, Ralph encounters a now-homeless Q*bert, and proceeds to give him some fruit he found at Pac-Man's world. Heartbreaking stuff.

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