Q*Bert Cocktail: A Lack of Willpower Turns Out O.K. This Time


Can you smell the money that is burning in my pocket?

So, this was the year I told myself “No new games until I finish the 3 projects that need restoring and start on my 2-3 custom cabinet builds”. I lasted until March 1st When I saw this little orange dude from the other side of the country. My willpower was weak for sure, but once I finally bit the bullet on this game (which won’t even be in my hands for at least 3-4 weeks) I think it was a killer choice.


Me telling my wife about my lack of willpower

Q*Bert is a stone-cold arcade classic for sure. Despite some very interesting arcade games from Gottlieb (mostly know for pinball machines until the 1980’s) in the golden age of video games, Q*Bert was really their only mega hit. The unique isometric graphics, fun characters, and Q*Bert’s pretend cursing made the game a smash in the arcades and in home versions as well. Q*Bert is in that circle of games such as Donkey Kong, Centipede, and Pac-Man. Why this Q*Bert is so interesting is for lots of reasons, but the first is that it isn’t an upright cabinet.


Crazy clean inside for a 40 year old arcade game

It is hard to say how many Q*Bert uprights were manufactured, but I would guess somewhere between 20,000 to 30,000. Despite the large production of games, very few cocktail cabinets were made and seem to have been made very late in the production of Q*Bert. Maybe as many as 500 cocktail cabinets, but some have estimated the number to be around 100-350. The cocktail cabinet is unique to Q*Bert and shared with no other game title. I have seen some 19-inch monitor cocktail cabinet versions of the game, but I believe these are conversions from Atari Tempest cocktail cabinets and not factory dedicated units.


This should touch up well...

That top glass artwork with the tiny 13-inch monitor is defiantly eye catching and would have stood out in the 1980’s. Most cocktail cabinets were marketed for places such as restaurants or bars so patrons could enjoy their drinks, or pizza, or whatever while playing video games. In the USA dedicated cocktail cabinets were pretty much abandoned as a cabinet option from arcade game companies by the mid-80’s and were never made in the large numbers of their upright brothers and sisters. Although our little Q Buddy isn’t turning on right now according to the seller, it is complete and super clean inside and seems to have not been used very much.


Everyone loved Q*Bert, except this one evidently

According to the coin meter this game was played less that 1500 times in its life, a remarkably low amount for a classic arcade game. That means it made less than $375 bucks for whatever little family restaurant or corner bar it was bought for. Most new arcade games would have cost around $2-3k new, so someone took a bath on this game profit wise, or it was originally bought for home use. Either way it is complete and super clean inside, the monitor even has very little of the normal burn in these games tend to have.


I bet some of this stuff is important

In a month or so I will have a cool project to look forward to for sure, and I do love Q*Bert as a game I should mention. I had an upright in the past and if I remember correctly, it was kind of a pain to keep running. Hopefully we will get lucky with this one and have another notable classic to add to the arcade. Now let’s see if I can make it to at least summer before I get ANOTHER project.


- Cassandra




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