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Qb - The Atari Times


This tiny game is huge fun
by Gregory D. George

January 25, 2003
It's uncommon to find a new game for the Atari 2600 that is actually original and any fun to play. Often "new" games are hacks of old games, homebrews that need more tweaking or originality, or unfinished protos that were discovered but aren't much fun to play. Qb is a game for the 2600 that is original in concept, fun to play, and extremely addictive.

Some may scoff at my assertion that Qb is an original game. True, it was ported by the original author, Andrew Davie, from the 8-bit version of the same name. However, it is original in the sense that no game like it has ever come before. Perhaps Boxxle for the Gameboy would be the closest comparison.

The goal of the game is simple. Slide blocks into a pattern as shown in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. You can only move the blocks you are standing on and you can only jump onto other blocks that you are directly next to. Fruit will appear as bonuses and monsters will try to kill you or slide the blocks around slowing your progress. Your only defense against the monsters is to use the fire button to throw away anything about to hit you. But there is a limited number of times you can do this based on your score.

The bulk of the graphics are plain with most of the detail to be found in the sprites themselves. Unfortunately, most of the sprite graphics are very flickery which detracts somewhat from the game. I'm guessing this was done to create the "ChronoColor" graphics for increased colors. The animation of the blocks and the characters is smooth and responsive, however. The main character even blinks his eyes on occasion.

The sound effects are certainly nothing to write home about. There are only two sounds that appear to have been "borrowed" from other games. One is the sound of moving the block from one position to another which reminds me of a "thrust" sound effect like those from Asteroids. The other is a jumping effect for which I would expect a "boing!" but got more of a "Bzzt!" effect. Another sound borrowed, perhaps the laser effect from Atlantis.

The gameplay is simple, but very addicting. It's simplicity is probably why the addiction factor is so high. It does get tricky and you find yourself swapping blocks over and over just to finally get the right design. Getting rid of the monsters is easy once you know the trick... Just get near them, hold down the button and jump on them. They will bounce away and be out of your life! (Until the next one pops up!) Just be sure not to hold down the button any longer than necessary or you'll lose points.

I've played both the 8-bit and the 2600 versions of the game. Even though the 8-bit version is miles better in terms of graphics and sounds I like the 2600 version better. The 8-bit version is harder to control because of the 3D view. (In that one you are allowed to jump in 8 directions instead of just 4.) The 2600 version's control is fast and responsive.

Qb is definitely a quality game for the 2600. Shocking that it's only 4k in size! The sounds aren't that spectacular, but if you like puzzle games, you really should get a copy of this one. Good show Andrew!


(c) Andrew Davie

The only thing missing is a title screen.
Slide the blocks around to create the pattern.
Collect fruit for bonuses.
This is just one of the many critters that will annoy you in the game!
System: 2600
Publisher: Andrew Davie
Genre: Puzzle
Graphics Score: 75%
Sound & Music Score: 20%
Gameplay Score: 85%
Control Score: 90%

Final Score: 90%

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