Rubik’s World adds a few free-form modes for you to flex your creativity. “Compose” asks you to arrange simple tunes out of notes and several styles of
music: percussion, synth, organ, piano, etc. In “Create” you must stack cubies into roughly recognizable shapes, based on a prompt the game gives you like “build a tree” or “build a cloud.” An interesting side effect of these modes is that your creations will start to show up in the menu, the menu will be more colorful as more cubies “come out” to play, and the tunes you compose will start to replace some of the incidental jingles.
No Rubik’s Cube game would be complete without the original puzzle, and the DS title has three versions to solve. The Mini Cube (2x2x2), Standard (3x3x3) and Rubik’s Revenge (4x4x4) are all included, with a tutorial that takes you through the basic steps of solving them. The 3D cube displayed on the screen can be rotated with the D-pad, and the different sections can be slid and turned with stylus swipes. This concept, a portable, multi-difficulty version of the classic puzzle, sounds like a great idea, but the execution leaves something to be desired. Manipulating the on-screen cube with a stylus is awkward, especially when you have to drag it across the touch screen to rotate the camera, or switch to the D-pad. Whenever I played around with the actual Cube portion of the game, I found myself wishing I could pull the Cube out of the DS and hold it in my hands. The Rubik’s Cube is by nature a very tactile puzzle, and even the DS’s touch-screen controls aren’t adequate to convey that experience.
That might be a bigger problem than it seems, because Rubik’s World appeals to a very niche audience. It’s not for kids, unless they’re particularly talented in math and abstract math puzzles. The puzzles are difficult to grasp and get ruthlessly unforgiving within a few levels, so most kids will probably get frustrated and drop the game. Rubik’s World is also a very visual game, and all the tutorials are in text so they aren’t very helpful. Lots of trial and error is required, sometimes just to figure out how a puzzle is played, much less solved. Visual tutorials would have made it easier to get into the individual minigames.
This also isn’t a puzzle game you play to relax, unlike like Game Factory’s Zenses series. The obscure cubie games will frustrate most people of above-average intelligence, and only the Mensa crowd will really groove on them. There is a multiplayer option for 2-player download play, which offers “fit,” “switch” and the original Cube as competitive modes, but I can only see the last option as engendering much competition because the real Cube has attracted such a healthy professional following.
Basically, unless you love solving the original Rubik’s Cube, this game won’t do much for you except make you feel insecure about your intelligence. Even if you’re a Rubik’s Cube fanatic with a lot of experience, the disconnected controls might be annoying. At this point, I unfortunately must recommend one of those little pocket keychain Cubes over this game. They’re just as portable, a lot cheaper than 30 bucks and easier to play with.
Rubik’s World has the right idea, but counter-intuitive puzzles, less-than-helpful instructions and finicky controls make this game more aggravating than mind-bending.
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