Game Review: CubeHead
Release: November 26, 2009
Updated: February 01, 2010
Genre: Match three puzzle
Developer: Fair Play Labs
Available Platforms: iPhone & iPod Touch ver. 3.0 or later
iTunes Rating: 4+
“After being exiled many years ago by his unhappy subjects, the wily king CubeHead has returned and wants to recover his throne. You must help the Cubies fight back and protect the Kingdom before it is too late! Beware though… you play against the clock and have a limited amount of energy.”
*(taken from the game’s description on iTunes)
CubeHead: Return of the King is an interesting game. It’s a match three puzzle game, but instead of swapping diamonds or objects you shift an entire row or column of “Cubies”. This isn’t a new mechanic as I’ve seen it in a few games already, but it’s different.
Although CubeHead has a story, you wouldn’t know it as you start the game; there is no adventure mode to go through. Instead, you have what seems to be an endless mode. In this mode, you have three difficulty settings which essentially affect how fast your energy is drained per slide. In the settings, you can change the time it takes to complete each level so in some way, the difficulty settings are also customizable. Gameplay is very simple and common to match three puzzles – slide rows or columns to match 3 or more Cubies. Successful matches will keep your energy high. Failed matches, such as sliding but not matching, will deplete your energy. This is natural as not all Cubies can be matched in one slide. Sometimes you need to move them around before a match is available. Luckily, you can get your energy back. To do so, you must consecutively match Cubies. Games are played in continuous levels. Each level requires you to match Cubies to reach a certain amount of points within the time limit. This is where I think it is an endless mode; you just keep playing level after level seeing how high you can get your score. Too many consecutively failed matches will result in a game over. At times, items such as unknown eggs, twisters, bombs and stones will appear. Unknown eggs contain random Cubies or items when cracked. Twisters reset the screen when matched. Bombs blow up a small area when matched. And stones cannot be moved but can be blown up by nearby bombs.
Although the story is hidden and the game is lacking an adventure mode, the gameplay is fun and addicting. The gameplay is simple and easy to pick up and play for minutes or hours at a time. The Cubies are colourful and cheerful. Each Cubie has its own unique animation. They are called Cubies, but they come in many different shapes. The overall art is stylized and polished. Backgrounds change when you reach certain levels too. The Cubies remind me of the characters in an Xbox Live Indie Game called Square Off.
CubeHead is a fun game, but it can benefit from a few improvements. Since the game has a story behind it, it would have been nice to see an adventure mode. The title is confusing and makes it seem like CubeHead is a sequel but it is not. Another thing is Classic mode, it is a hidden and confusing feature found in the settings. It doesn’t really provide anything different to the gameplay. The only difference I noticed is how you slide the columns. In Classic mode, columns can only be moved downward but rows can still be moved left and right. Time settings should also be moved and placed with the difficulty settings.
My overall thoughts:
Forgetting that CubeHead lacks an adventure mode, I still had fun with this game. The challenge of reaching the next level is addicting and will have you coming back to beat a previous score. For $0.99, players get a small game, but a game with high replay value. Match three puzzle fans shouldn’t miss CubeHead: The Return of the King for the iPhone or iPod Touch.