Watchdog parents will be happy to know that Cube is not a hyper-violent vanity project from reformed gangsta Ice Cube, but rather a deep little puzzler with only the bare minimum of bullets.
The name of the game says it all: You play as a rolling tilt-a-box that must navigate its way through of series of grid-like mazes containing bombs, spikes balls, and a bevy of other inanimate objects that wish you ill. But while an overwhelming number of in-game things harbor harmful intentions, you’ll find just as many doo -dads that will aid to your progress.
You’ll be hittin’ switches like the aforementioned rapper/awful actor, as well as diverting explosive charges, activating elevators and - sorry severely conservative right-wingers - even cloning yourself.
Even though Cube forms from a very simple idea, there’s plenty of depth to be had amid the 135 levels of square-based brain busting - even if it does resemble a Nintendo 64 launch game. But given the bang you get for your buck in terms of quantity, Cube isn’t without its issues.
At first we were captivated by the design, but as we progressed we were left feeling incredibly disoriented. Most of this is derived from the constantly rotating game board on top of a constantly rotating background. It's enough to make those with weak stomachs reach for the Dramamine.
The wooziness is escalated by the deceptively simplistic control scheme, consisting of almost sole use of the D-pad, with the occasional X button thrown into to trigger things like explosions and cloned blocks. The rest of the buttons have been relegated to controlling the camera (almost all of the in fact, even the analog nub) because you'll be using every dimension of the intricately designed levels - left to right and top to bottom - and you'll need to hold some semblance of which way is up.
But since the controls are relative to the position of the camera, a lot of your movement will end up botched due to a constantly shifting point of view. Sometimes the camera angle obscures certain sources of evil, like the hard to see, two dimensional sinker tiles that act like quicksand, sucking you down in less time than it takes Ashley Simpson to streak offstage when the recorded vocals start skipping.
A lot of frustration can be overcome by patiently mastering the camera controls and clearly surveying the lay of every land, but with so many levels coming at you in such short bursts, this seems a little counterinutive to the pick-up-and-play puzzler Cube should've been. Plus going back to collect keys and shooting for a "Gold" finish time just to unlock further levels can also be a drag.
Ad-hoc multiplayer and a level editor add to the overall playability of this tightly-packed, low-priced game, but Cube falls just a bit shy of certain other PSP puzzle grinders out there. It's perfect for play in airport terminals and doctor's waiting rooms, but it's hardly of the addictive, Puzzle Quest and Lumines "I'll sleep when I'm dead!" variety.