previews\ Mar 29, 2007 at 8:00 pm

Cube - PSP - Preview 2

How do you define art? Is it comprised of many shapes and colors? Does it move you emotionally or physically? Or both? Does it make you think? Does it test your intelligence?

If art is any of those things, then it might very well fall in line with Cube, a new puzzler for the PSP. It’s an entirely original concept that, if the preview build is any indication, will receive a near-flawless execution.


Oh! Gravity

Cube looks confusing. When I first perused our database of screenshots, all I saw were blocks. Now that I’ve played the game, I see several intricately designed levels. I see a main character. And I see obstacles that must be overcome.

You play as a cube that, not unlike Mario in his upcoming Galaxy adventure, has little regard for gravity. The clock can and will fall into the abyss if you make a mistake. But throughout most of the game the cube will hang on tight to all other blocks.

Every move you make is worth one cube space. Since gravity is not an issue, you can climb on any side of the stationary cubes (I like to think of those as blocks). The blocks are formed together as one, or will be by the end of the mission. In some instances you’ll have to push blocks together to create a link to the next area.

To better understand the game, take a good look at this screenshot. Note the yellow cube in the center of the screen (the one that’s glowing).


From that position, if I were to press left on the D-pad, the block would shift down to the other side of the yellow block it’s currently resting on. The camera quickly adjusts to compensate for the change, providing the best possible view in almost all cases. Your cube is now sideways, but the view changes to avoid any likely frustrations.

From the starting position, if I press up my cube moves to the blue square. If I press up again it moves down on the side of the blue square, sending the camera up and angled to keep the view steady with the rest of the game.

As you play the game and begin to run through motions, your cube will hop around the squares and flip around so much that it’s almost dizzying – and yet at the same time, somewhat pleasant. I love the experience. Cube makes it easy to forget that you’re controlling something as simple as a cube.

Collection, Avoidance

On your journey of gravity defiance, you should notice that keys are located in almost every level. They are often on the top, sides, and underneath blocks you must traverse.

In a world where no obstacles remained, it would be easy to snatch the keys. But in Cube’s world you have to contend with spiked roller bombs – explosive objects that roll around the environment and destroy your cube on impact. There are disappearing blocks, the kind that fade away after your first contact with them. Stay on too long and they won’t be the only things that fade away. But that’s not necessarily the worst-case scenario. If you don’t look ahead during the game intro (which shows a 360-degree spinning view of the stage), you may be unaware of an upcoming obstacle. That mistake could leave you on a single block with nowhere to go.

Spiked balls, no matter how hazardous, do have a helpful side effect. The balls only move if there is an arrow on one of the blocks. Those arrows are generally movable. If you change the direction of the arrow, you’ll change the direction of the spiked ball. It sounds simple – it might even sound like the simplest thing in the game. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. To make the balls go where you want, and to collect all the keys and reach the goal before the time runs out, you’ll whip across those blocks, take major risks, and endure hours of failure.

If this doesn’t sound like the kind of puzzle game you’d enjoy, then chances are Cube is not for you. But it’s impossible to completely grasp without actually playing the game. Contrary to the belief that puzzlers are created for a casual audience, this could be a game that primarily serves the hardcore crowd.


Shipping to stores at the end of May, Cube is an exquisite and challenging puzzler that will rock the world of anyone who tries to solve its masterful mysteries.

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