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Cube - PSP - Review

Oh, where to begin, where to begin? ... Cube is a game that while it falls into the puzzle genre, it kind of sits by itself amongst modern puzzle games. Now I know I am going to date myself here, but for some reason I couldn't help but think of a classic game called "Marble Madness" (you can pick it up on the Midway Arcade Treasures collection). In it, you control a marble as it avoids traps, navigates the sometimes rough and crazy terrain and generally defies the laws of physics. Well, Cube is sort of like that, only not as much fun.

In it, you control a cube set in the 3D world of weirdness. The object is to navigate the your cube from beginning to the end of each level. This being a game that also defies physics, as long as you are flat on the side of the level (you can go up, down and not do battle against gravity) you will stay connected to the game grid. The grid (or whatever you want to call it) is a collection of other cubes, stacked and arranged as to cause some distress to your cube. Traps and bombs are there to stop or slow you down and there are even spaces that sink you into the level. Parts of the levels sometimes rotate and move while you attempt to beat each level before time runs out. Sadly, this isn't the hardest part of the game; no that award goes to the unfriendly and uncooperative camera. Since the game is viewed in 3D and your cube can rotate around objects (like a pillar for instance) you must move the camera accordingly so you do not fall victim to a trap. But the camera control is so overly sensitive and likes to move on it's own, you will often find it switching to another view that is not effective for your current surroundings. Make sense? Well if it doesn't then just understand that the camera is as much an enemy as the other traps.

 
"My eyes!"

And no, this is not on purpose; this is the result of a poorly conceived camera-control scheme. Which coincides with the sometimes very painful to watch levels. Painful because the color scheme is so right and ill-colored (think an all pink level) that you literally can get a headache looking at it too long. No fooling, my wife, who is the undisputed queen of the puzzle games in this house, had to stop playing and stated, and I quote, "this game is giving me a headache." Not all the levels are this way, only a few select ones, but there shouldn't be anything that makes your eyes bleed in any game, so take it for what it is worth. The level designs were fairly varied, some only took seconds to complete while others contain so many traps and routes, that it will take you quite a while.

The audio in the game really didn't seek to make more out of the game. Given it's somewhat interesting appearance and odd look, it seemed to me that a techno soundtrack may have done well with this title. Instead there is more of a background filler style music with some unlockable tunes to change up the pace. I didn't think it added to much to the title and opted to listen to my iPod while playing.


"I feel the overwhelming need to draw on graph paper."

Now there are a ton of levels in this game and several difficulties to challenge those who consider themselves hardcore puzzle maniacs. And while it seems like I have been beating this title up, there is some fun to be had. Levels where there isn't as much camera movement and others where you must play the opposing traps against one another really showed me the potential that this title had. And, of course, I know that no matter how hard some levels are to look at and how frustrating the camera can be, there will be some gamers out there who absolutely love this game, and good for them.

These gamers will be the ones who take advantage of the level creator. Yes, this title allows you to make your own cube puzzles and while it does take some time to get the gist of how to make them, they are only limited to the imagination and patience it takes to make one that works well. Plus, for even more gameplay for those so inclined, there is a multiplayer mode available. I was unable to test the limits of this as it does require a second copy of the game, but the instructions do indicate the ability to play as a team, or to try and out-maneuver your opponent in a head to head mode.

I think the game kind of fell short of where it could have been. The bombs don't look all that menacing and the levels could have been less repetitive. The idea is totally sound, but the end product clearly wasn't what the developers were trying to do.

 

Gameplay: 5.8
The camera angle really does affect a large portion of how you play the game, making it feel more clunky and less smooth.

Graphics: 5.5
Everything is pretty much based on the cube principle. Everywhere you go, cubes, cubes, cubes. There are some items like keys that break this mold and the spikes on the bombs look sharp, but not too menacing.

Sound: 5.0
It needed a more upbeat techno score; it doesn't have it. Yes, you can hear the cube flopping around, but it doesn't really do anything for the overall game experience.

Difficulty: Medium
It does get hard at the end, but it is not impossible if you can take the time to work against the camera. It help to memorize some levels in order to get as far as you can as quickly as you can.

Concept: 6.5
I think a Cube redux should be made or Cube 1.5, this title has the potential, but the proof wasn't in the pudding. And I like pudding.

Overall: 5.7
I really wanted to like this game, and honestly, I could have forgiven the poor sound effects/music and sometimes painful colors of the game. But I cannot forgive the horribly frustrating camera control. I want a do over and I want that camera fixed.

Average

Gw
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