See Live Action Q*bert in this ad for Q*bert the Board Game

Q*bert the animated series premiered on October 1, 1983. Its 19 episodes, all contained in one season, ran for a little over a year on the Saturday Supercade. It was a good show, but like many things related to the first wave of video game entertainment, it was both misunderstood by the creative folks making it and was pegged to the fate of the gaming industry itself.

I love the nonsensical 50s throwback retro theming of the Q*bert cartoon, but not enough people did to sustain it. For the longest time, I blamed the theme and especially the video game crash. But maybe what I should have considered was the medium itself. Perhaps Q*bert would have been a better show if it was live-action.

Now I know what you are thinking, “Well, we will never know what that will look like.”

Wrong!

When the Q*bert board game was released in 1983, they made an infrequently broadcasted commercial for it. In it we get a few moments of live-action Q*bert featuring humans in costumes hopping around on a properly scaled Q*bert pyramid.

I picture a hybrid sketch comedy video game show with an updated Sid and Marty Krofft aesthetic. Picture, Q*bert, Coily and the gang hopping around and dropping one liners. Whenever Q*bert gets them to jump off the pyramid or gets defeated we cut to a short comedy sketch centered around arcade and video game culture. Borrowing heavily from the pacing of “You Can’t Do that on Television” it would have been a hit on Saturday mornings or as an after school tv show. It would have been an amazing snapshot of the time and a great deal more compelling than what we got with the Q*bert cartoon.

Here is the commercial in its entirety so that you can see what it might have looked like:

If you have not played the Q*bert board game, it is worth checking out for nostalgia value, but does not have a ton of replayability for an adult audience.

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The Retroist

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