Q*Bert on Game Boy: Decent Port of a Arcade Classic

Q*bert is a game that I’ve become very interested in. It is a simple game from the 80s designed to get as many quarters as possible. That model worked well for the arcades but didn’t always work when those games were ported to the home console.

Often, the control schemes from the arcade would be butchered. Most controllers didn’t have the buttons needed to make the games work, or they didn’t have unique controls like joysticks, spinners, or trackballs.

With this port of Q*bert, the developers did what they needed to do by programming the diagonal movement for the Game Boy’s directional pad. It worked out as well as you could expect it to. It is a decent port of the game, but it isn’t more than a port.

Here is a link to the Game Boy Color review: https://paulwerkema.com/2022/07/01/qbert-yokoi-corner/

TLDR: It is a Decent Port of an Arcade Classic, but Missing Game Modes that would make it Better.

You Didn’t Need a Story

There is no story to this game. Back in the 80s, arcade games didn’t need to have stories. They were designed to get as many quarters from the player as possible.

Looking at these games today, I would like to know why these creatures are here and what is happening. Where are these M.C. Escher-inspired places? Who is Q*bert? Is it some kind of galactic criminal, and changing the colors of these squares is his punishment?

You weren’t supposed to think about all of these things. The game was designed for you to pump quarters into and to try for a high score.    

Fun but Frustrating

Let’s talk about the arcade game for a minute. The controls for the arcade use a diagonal joystick. This made your character move in a diagonal pattern. It makes it hard to translate to a D-Pad that isn’t set up for diagonal movement.

You can do it by pressing the buttons at the same time, like this:

  • Down and Left
  • Up and Left
  • Down and Right
  • Up and Right

If you don’t push two directions simultaneously, Q*bert will stand there until one of the enemies kills him. When that happens, he swears at you. At least, I’m assuming it is a swear word. I’m sure Warren Davis has said something about it, but I either don’t remember it or haven’t seen it.

You can still fall off the playfield if you’re not careful. This also means that the little rainbow circles that teleport you back to the top of the playfield are still here. It is one of the interesting parts of Q*bert.

You’re not alone on these blocks in the middle of space. There is a snake called Coily who is trying to kill Q*bert. Does he eat Q*berts? Did Q*bert salt Coily’s garden after Coily’s blackberry bushes went crazy? Is Coily simply a jerk? Doesn’t matter.

Some balls drop down and can crush Q*bert. The way they were programmed and created is very interesting. If you want to know more about the nuts and bolts of that, check out Creating Q*bert by Warren Davis.

The Game Boy Color version is better than this one. While the controls of the Game Boy hamper the gameplay, it is good enough to get the job done. This isn’t my preferred way to play Q*bert, but it does get the job done.


This is a black-and-white version of the arcade game. It was necessary to remove the colors to port Q*bert to the Game Boy. If the Game Boy had been capable of displaying colors, then this game would have looked better.

That is the only bad thing I have to say about the graphics of this game. It is a fine-looking Game Boy game. You can tell where the enemies will go, and the characters look close to how they look in the arcade game.

The graphics aren’t going to blow you away, but they do a good job of replicating the look of the arcade game. The game has been shrunk to fit on the Game Boy’s screen. The graphics get the job done and don’t hamper the gameplay.    

7/10. This is a good version of a classic arcade game. However, it lacks the extra features to make this a better game. The Game Boy Color version is better than this one.


  • Pick-up and Play
  • Good graphics


  • Lack of play options
  • Cumbersome controls


This isn’t a bad version of Q*bert. The controls take some time to get used to, but that is a product of how the arcade game was set up. It doesn’t translate well to playing with a directional pad.

The lack of colors takes away from the graphics but doesn’t impact the gameplay. It looks fine. Q*bert and the enemies look how they should look, and the game’s features are all present.

Q*bert on the Game Boy is a decent port of an arcade classic. It didn’t try to do anything special, which is disappointing.

Published by Paul Werkema

Hi! I'm here to share my hobbies with all of you. I love video games and books, so I write about the books that cover video games or are novels about video games.

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