Ah, the Rubik’s Cube. That innocent little puzzle that almost every kid has owned, and subsequently gone crazy trying to solve. The twisting, turning 3X3
cube made of cubes can be more maddening to solve for the inexperienced than the perverse “spilled milk” all-white jigsaw puzzle. The Cube has inspired competitions between professional solvers, insane time record videos on Youtube, and the popular Kobayashi Maru solution of disassembling the Cube and putting the pieces back in order. The Rubik’s Cube has been a national phenomenon for several decades, so publisher Game Factory thought it would be a good idea to make a game based on the puzzle, and set developer Two Tribes to work making the games. Two Tribes developed two titles based on the Cube, one for Wii and DS, and I tried out the DS one first.
The first impression I had was that the game was a little hard to get into. The opening sequence, music and overall presentation make it look like a kid game, but the actual interface and gameplay are pretty counter-intuitive. The game starts off talking about “cubies,” the little individual cubes that make up the larger Rubik’s Cube. At every opportunity the game makes it sound like these cubies are little animated creatures, but throughout the gameplay they are just inanimate colored cubes. There are a few puzzles where they move around, but they aren’t the cute little characters the game makes them out to be.
If you can get past the initial false advertising of the game’s theme you’ll find some decent puzzles. I tried “switch” first, which is a play on Tetris. A grid of colored cubes is displayed, with you holding a single cube. You must swap your cube into the grid, and if you connect it to four of the same color, all five will disappear. The grid is constantly filling up with more cubes and goes faster as you eliminate sets. If the grid fills completely, you lose the game.
In “color” you must tap different sides of a cubie to paint them different colors, so that the cubie can navigate a maze and reach the exit. Cubies will get stuck on a tile that is their own color, so it is necessary to keep cubies from getting stranded, or strand other cubies to make bridges for the one heading to the exit.
“Roll” is similar to “color,” except that in this game you can only dictate the cubies’ direction. Most of these puzzles have you rolling cubies into L-shaped structures to alter their path.
In “fit” you must gather cubies into small groups so that they fit into cutout shapes in a moving board. This puzzle was particularly obscure and I failed a number of times before I even knew what to do. It didn’t help that after a few levels a time limit was added.
“Calculate” was even more confusing. The puzzle would display two basic arithmetic equations, which I was somehow supposed to translate to a Cartesian coordinate grid. I can understand what they’re trying to do in theory, but the actual puzzle (again made worse with a time limit) is very difficult to figure out, even in the tutorial level.
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