Q*bert is an arcade video game developed and published by Gottlieb in 1982. It is a 2D action game with puzzle elements that uses “isometric” graphics to create a pseudo-3D effect, and serves as a precursor to the isometric platformer genre. The objective is to change the color of every cube in a pyramid by making the on-screen character hop on top of the cube while avoiding obstacles and enemies. Players use a joystick to control the character.
The game was conceived by Warren Davis and Jeff Lee. Lee designed the title character and original concept, which was then further developed and implemented by Davis. Q*bert was developed under the project name Cubes, but was briefly named Snots And Boogers and @!#?@! during development.
Q*bert was well received in arcades and among critics. The game was Gottlieb’s most successful video game and among the most recognized brands from the golden age of arcade video games. It has been ported to numerous platforms. The success resulted in sequels and the use of the character’s likeness in merchandising, such as appearances on lunch boxes, toys, and an animated television show. The character Q*bert became known for his “swearing”, an incoherent phrase of synthesized speech generated by the sound chip and a speech balloon of nonsensical characters that appear when he collides with an enemy.
Q*bert was Gottlieb’s only video game that gathered huge critical and commercial success, selling around 25,000 arcade cabinets. Cabaret and cocktail versions of the game were later produced. The machines have since become collector’s items; the rarest of them are the cocktail versions.