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Review: Cubixx for Vita

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Title: Cubixx
Price: $2.99
System(s): Vita (Also available on PlayStation Mobile devices)
Release Date: October 16, 2012
Publisher (Developer): Laughing Jackal (Laughing Jackal)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone”

I haven’t really gotten into the PlayStation Mobile games. The only one I bought was Samurai Beatdown after the games launched on the Vita, primarily because it was under $1 and I had just about $1 and some change left in my PSN wallet that had been sitting there for a few weeks. Haunt the House: Terrortown looked appealing, but I can’t bring myself to buy it. So, I’ve largely ignored them.

Then Sony announced six weeks of free PlayStation Mobile games, an offer I couldn’t refuse. I’ve been downloading each week and with Cubixx, I’ve found something special. I’ve found something that manages to feel fresh, but still is largely reminiscent of when I spent third grade playing Qix on my Game Boy Brick. I like that feeling and I want more of it.

Cubixx is what happens when Qix goes 3D

In Qix, players had to contain a moving “enemy” squiggle in an area by putting boxes around it in an attempt to contain it in a cage of a specified size. Cubixx is quite different in terms of goals. Here, you are faced with a box that you must cut away a certain percentage of so the exploding, firey ball within can be freed.

However, the gameplay is very similar. Players control a lazer which moves along the edges of the box and can cut into the six panels through 20 levels. Cutting away pieces of the panels to allow the energy ball inside to burst free is difficult though, as there are square squiggles on each panel that will destroy your cutter in one hit, as well as energy balls that also move along the edges like your cutter that can destroy it in, you guessed it, one hit.

So basically, it’s all about employing the proper strategy to cut away panels of the box while avoiding the deadly nuisances . The larger the uninterrupted swaths you cut, the higher your end score.

A remarkably solid PlayStation Mobile game

The thing about Cubixx is that it gets under your skin. I have been playing it for a week now, with probably about four hours invested, and I have yet to get past level 8. It’s very challenging and alluring in its simplicity. The goal seems easy – usually to clear away 50% or more of the panels covering the flaming orb so it can explode. However, the constantly moving opponents roaming the panels and the following the lines mean you have to always be moving. But if you move without thinking, that’s just as bad. The only way you can get high scores is if you work smart and take out large chunks of panels in one line.

That’s where Cubixx gets you. While it isn’t saying to do your best, the game is always, silently, tempting you. It doesn’t goad you, but somehow that lack of taunting made me want to take more risks and do more. Then, when I would fall, it would make me want to play even more to prove I could go further, take out larger chunks and earn a higher score.

The worst part is, I can’t blame my failures on the controls. Cubixx plays perfectly with the directional buttons or left analog stick used to move the cutter and the x button pressed to move away from the cube’s borderlines and cut into a panel. Every motion is accurate so I can’t say an enemy got me because the game cheated. It’s always my own fault.

The visuals are also quite effective. The game starts out in black and white set amidst a sea of stars. However, as you cut away, you see the insides of the panels is red and the firey orb within is constantly swirly and moving. That contrast is quite nice and I like how it looked. With a game like Cubixx, it doesn’t need to be flashy.’

Finally, Cubixx offers a lot of replay value. It’s a very difficult puzzle game, so it will take quite a bit of practice before someone is able to beat all 20 levels. Even if you do, the possibility of earning higher scores is enough motivation to return, as is the promise that each run through will be different despite offering the same end goals.

If all PlayStation Mobile games can be as addictive as Cubixx, we should be paying more attention to them.

Cubixx has made a PlayStation Mobile believer out of me. I now think this line of games has a purpose. At least, on the Vita it does. The puzzler looks crisp and perfect on the Vita’s screen and plays perfectly. Plus, it has the kind of gameplay where you feel driven to go through just one or two more levels to see if you can get further or earn a higher score. It was a fantastic deal for free and after the time I’ve spent with it, I’d say it is well worth the $2.99 if you missed grabbing Cubixx when it was free. If you loved Qix, then you definitely need this game in your life.

Site [Laughing Jackal]

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