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Showing posts with label Hasbro Interactive. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Hasbro Interactive. Show all posts

Retrospective: Q*bert

Even though I started my gaming odyssey back in the late 1980s with an Amstrad CPC 464, there are some mainstays of the retro scene that just never really resonated with me. Whenever I take a cursory glance at the smouldering hellscape that is Twitter, I will invariably see stuff from people who are of a similar age, frothing about games such as Horace, Jet Set Willy, Manic Miner et al. For me, these titles hold zero nostalgia. I realise their importance as the foundation of what we now view as the vidya gaem industry, but I just never really saw any appeal in them, even at the time. Another title that fits neatly into this bracket for me, is Q*bert.

I do vividly remember being aware of Q*bert when I was a kid, but something about the name and design of the character itself left me cold; and the actual game, with its isometric boxes, bouncing deathy spring things (which I later learned was actually a snake) and fairly simplistic gameplay did nothing for me. I was much more of a Heroes of the Lance or Heavy on the Magick type of urchin. Although I did enjoy a spot of Super Robin Hood every now and then, if only for the high fidelity speech samples. Cough.

Why am I talking about Q*bert though? What's this got to do with the Dreamcast? Well, here's why, dear reader: Q*bert made an appearance on the Dreamcast, his orange tubular schnoz recreated in fully realised 3D texture-mapped ray-traced polytriangulargons™. This won't be news to a lot of people reading this, but as Q*bert was an NTSC-U exclusive, I'm guessing there are at least a few people who didn't know the foul-mouthed, mutated little aberration was given an outing on Sega's final console.

It is curious that a lot of these early 2000s reboots of classic titles were only released stateside. Many of those original titles were quite popular in Europe - the UK especially - back when they were contemporary so why PAL releases were off the table is a bit of a mystery. The Dreamcast releases of Frogger 2, Centipede, Mrs Pacman and the Atari Classics Collections are all missing in action, presumed dead (and don't even get me started on Yu Suzuki Game Works), and I'm at a loss as to why this is the case. 

Indeed, the gaming scene was massive in the UK during the 1980s, plus there was no 'gaming crash' as there was in the US. The aforementioned titles (or their prequels at the very least) were huge hits on this side of the pond. But no, none of these Dreamcast sequels to classic games of yesteryear were released in PAL territories, and you can add to that list Q*bert. Here's the rub though. While some may lament the lack of blue box releases of those aforementioned titles, you need not shed a tear for Q*bert's Dreamcast release, as it is - for lack of a better term - cack.

A Quick Look At Centipede

Centipede for the Dreamcast is a curious title for a couple of reasons. It's part of what is, for all intents and purposes, a sort of trilogy of retro reboots that includes two other properties with roots in the very early days of gaming - Q*bert and Frogger. While there are several retro collections for the Dreamcast in the form of Namco Museum, Sega Smash Pack, Yu Suzuki Game Works, Atari Anniversary EditionMidway's Greatest Arcade Hits 1 & 2 and Jimmy White's 2: Cueball, none of these titles feature complete re-imaginings of the classic titles contained therein.
No, Centipede, Q*bert and Frogger are unique in that they introduce updated visuals, new modes and - most notably in the case of Centipede - totally new gameplay mechanics. Interestingly, all three of these titles come from the Hasbro Interactive/Atari mash-up that was borne out of the acquisition of the latter by the former, however for the sake of this being 'a quick look at...' we're only going to focus on the most radically redesigned of the three - Centipede.
Released in 2000 by Hasbro Interactive masquerading as Atari and developed by Leaping Lizard Software, Centipede is a modern take on the classic game of the same name that was released to much critical and commercial success back in 1980. Having only been born in 1982, I don't actually remember the initial arcade release of Centipede, but over the years I've played plenty of variations on the formula and I'm sure you have too. Naturally, coming from an era when hardware was less graphically capable than what we have today, Centipede featured basic visuals but had one very simple premise that was replicated in many titles of the period - shoot the enemies, get a high score...and survive the onslaught.