Thank you so much to Ghostlight for providing a review code
I always appreciated the appeal of arcade games. While I never grew up with arcades myself, I’ve always liked the idea of playing bite-sized, tough as nails games and trying to keep your high score amongst all the other arcade goers. Of course, after arcades started to become fewer and the age of home gaming began, it didn’t take long for companies to play with player’s nostalgia and either port over former arcade games or introduce new arcade games.
Decades later and this practice is still proving effective. While you don’t see many triple-A games with that arcade-style appeal, smaller companies and especially indie developers all have been picking up the slack. When I got the chance to play Cubixx, a game that prides itself on being a spiritual successor to the Namco days, I was really excited and intrigued by the unique ideas on display. So is Cubixx an appreciated call back to decades past, or a failed attempt to play with people’s nostalgia?
The main objective in Cubixx is to cut down the faces of a cube until you have reached the desired target for percentage deleted, simple as that. The edges of the cube act as roads for you while traveling along the face of the cube. The bigger the section you cut or the longer the line or combos of lines over different faces racks up more points.
At its core, it’s pretty simple but also pretty fun. That’s not all there is to offer either, you will also have to face off against different obstacles and enemies. The main enemy “the orange cubes” are large, unpredictable moving objects that if they come in contact with you or your current line will kill you, making you lose a life. “The purple cubes” are smaller versions that seem to hover around the other cubes and act in the same manner. You also have little blips of light that follow along the edges of the cube and your line that unsurprisingly kill you on impact, and even clouds of darkness that hone in on you when you enter their face of the cube and slow you down.
While there are more these are what you will encounter in the early game, as there are a whopping fifty levels to play through. These different enemies provide more of a challenge and give the game a bit more depth and complexity. There are also different assortments of power-ups that can both help you or work against you. Personally, I didn’t find myself going after these much as they are way too close and/or surrounded by enemies who have unpredictable movements.
One major problem I have with the first two enemies is their completely unpredictable movements. This makes deaths feel unfair at some points when an orange guy that was at the opposite end of the face when you start the line, makes a charge for your line right as you’re about to reach the opposite edge. One cool thing I did find was if you cut a small square around an orange guy, unlike every other enemy who would just be deleted along with the smaller surface, the area surrounding the smaller cut will be made racking up a large number of points. However, this can be risky to pull off due to their erratic movements. The other enemies are fine but those first two (which are found in basically every level) really sour the experience.
Another problem with the gameplay I had was the random difficulty spikes. One level might be a complete cake walk while the very next one will seem overwhelmingly impossible. This seems to happen at the end of each stage (composed of five levels) so the argument can be made that it acts as a sort of boss fight, but it makes no sense when the very next level is back to being first level material.
Aside from the main Arcade mode, the game also offers:
Time Trial Mode: a mode where you try and beat different levels while also trying to get a record time against your previous best.
Score Attack: A mode where you try to rack up the most
points in one single life
Line Attack: Similar to Score Attack, but you only have one line to work with meaning combos are a must to get any points in this mode.
Challenge Mode: Series of challenges that task you with completing an objective and awarding you with a gold, silver, or bronze medal depending on how well you do. For example; if an objective has you beat the level in the least amount of lines, bronze will be rewarded for 4-5 lines, silver for 3 lines, and gold for 2 lines. Each of these different modes is good fun and offers an extra layer to the core gameplay.
Overall, for what the game is, it looks fine. It’s nothing ground-breaking, but it’s also not an eyesore to look at. The game goes for this sort of dubstep/electric look and feel with the visuals that get the job done, but don’t offer anything unique or new to the table. They serve their purpose of having something to look at but don’t really need to go any further than that. The only thing I found slightly jarring was the model for the spaceship guy that acts as your tutorial giver. It looks like it was made in fifteen minutes on blender and looks really out of place for an otherwise fine looking game. It’s a small detail but it’s hard to ignore when it’s literally thrown in your face. Another minor nitpick is the menu design, it looks very lazily done and merely acts as just buttons to access the game.
The music is where the presentation really shines through. While again it’s nothing unique or new, more just a compilation of electric dubstep type music, it’s a nice overall soundtrack and fits the theme of the arcade style of play well. It might not stand out, but it certainly improves the overall experience as a whole.
The game is at its most fun with a friend, and also at its easiest. Every mode allows for four-player couch co-op and can be both extremely hectic and fun. The only new rule for playing with friends is that intersecting with them or their current line will kill them. This adds to the sometimes chaos of these levels by having you and your friends frantically try not to get surrounded by others. Multiplayer can also give the main arcade mode an unfair advantage when playing it since the levels don’t get altered by the fact that you now essentially have up to quadruple the lives you’d usually have.
For those who enjoy online play however, there’s sadly no option for that.
During my time I encountered no technical issues. However, I do want to give this game a big golden sticker of not having a single loading screen apart from first starting up the game. You simply choose a level and you transition from the menu right into the gameplay. I found this incredibly impressive and I feel like it definitely deserved to be mentioned.
My time with Cubixx was overall a pleasant experience. I don’t think it’s a masterpiece or anything, but there’s definitely enjoyment to be had. There’s tons of content to play, throughout all the different modes, fun to complete objectives, and great as a local multiplayer experience! While the presentation might be bland and there are abrupt spikes in difficulty alongside a couple of bad enemy designs, Cubixx is still a solid experience that is worth adding to your library and especially worth playing with a friend
Love playing games and experiencing all that the different developers have to offer, happy to have the chance to broaden my horizons and explore more of the vast universe of indie games with Switch Atlantic!