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PSP Fanboy review: Cube

Andrew Yoon
Andrew Yoon|@scxzor|April 27, 2007 8:00 AM

Cube asks players to do one simple thing: get from point A to point B. Of course, it wouldn't be much of a game if it was as easy as it sounds. This action-puzzle game from D3 Publisher has players navigating the titular cube around a three dimensional grid, also made of cubes. Along the way, players will stumble upon a variety of challenges to overcome: gaps in the course that must be mended, paths that must be opened, etc. To do so, there may be blocks for the player to push, or buttons to press. There are also other obstacles that can even destroy the player's cube.

The challenges in Cube provide an interesting excursion. As the player progresses, more puzzles are unlocked, and the difficulty slowly rises. Some of the later levels can become truly terrifying pieces of work, layered with complexities. Trying to solve the various puzzles does become quite involving, as players must try to push blocks in a particular way, and pay attention to the movement of other blocks. There's replay value added thanks to additional keys that are scattered throughout a level: by collecting these keys within a certain time limit, the player will be awarded a medal. Obviously, perfectionists will want to get a Gold as often as possible.

With over a hundred levels, there's a lot of puzzle action to be found in Cube. When judged by each level individually, Cube looks to offer quite a lot. Each level is satisfying when solved, especially at the harder difficulties. However, as a whole, the game has a few flaws that deter from the overall experience.

The visuals in the game are acceptable: they're certainly not as hypnotic as those of Lumines, but there's no reason for a game like this to push new boundaries for the system. However, some may be off-put by the generally monochromatic look of the game: the Blue Zone will be excessively blue, for example. It certainly creates a distinct style, but it may not appeal to everyone.

The music and sound also leave a lot to be desired. The audio has a sterile, generic feel that doesn't necessarily add to the experience. Once again, that's not necessarily a glaring flaw, but it does take away from what should be a more mesmerizing experience.

The controls are also not as polished as they could be. In particular, the camera feels a bit awkward at times. Because the camera is pointed straight at the cube at most times, it can be difficult to gauge the course, or obstacles. Depth perception can be tricky at times, especially when gaging the location of items that are floating off to the side, or are on the other side of the suspended platform. There will be many times players will be be killed by a moving bomb that was impossible to see with the in-game camera. Many levels will require some level of memorization of some sort.

While memorization isn't necessarily a bad thing, failure becomes particularly annoying in the game due to one crucial flaw that afflicts so many PSP games: load times. They aren't long by any means: only a few seconds. However, there should be no reason to have load times in a game as simplistic as these. When making a fatal mistake, one would expect hitting Reset would instantly restart the puzzle. Instead, players must suffer through yet another load screen. Moving from one part in the game to the other becomes frustratingly long as each load screen the player must endure starts adding up.

Had the load times been resolved, the game's unattractive menus may have been overlooked. However, as it stands, there is an amateurish feel to the game's presentation. Maybe that's to be expected--the title is, in fact, only $20. At a budget price point, the game offers quite a lot of gaming value. if the hundred plus levels weren't enough, the game does offer a level editor (although we found it a bit too confusing to use). There's also a demo of the beloved Puzzle Quest hidden away in the menu. This is also one of the few games to utilize Game Sharing on our handheld: a feature that shows some insight into the true capabilities of the system.

Although there are a ton of great brain-teasing thrills to be found in Cube, the crude presentation and frustrating load times detract from an otherwise pleasant (albeit generic) gaming experience. At its budget price, however, these flaws don't seem too significant, making Cube a game that comes with a relatively unchallenged recommendation. Puzzle fans may not fall in love with Cube, but they'll have a good time nonetheless.

PSP Fanboy review: 6.5