I’ve lost count how many times the strange bulge in my jeans has caused a stir whilst travelling on the bus. Unfortunately this wasn’t because God has blessed with an uber generous midriff but rather that I was carrying a Rubik’s Cube in my pocket for some portable brain teasing action on the way to work. Luckily I need to worry no further about embarrassing bulges as The Game Factory have brought the amazing world of Rubik’s Cubism to the Nintendo DS in the form of the ingeniously named Rubik’s Puzzle World. It is estimated that 5% of the world’s population have purchased a Rubik’s Cube since it was released in the 1970’s (that’s over 300 million people), with sales figures like that it would be crazy not to bring the puzzle sensation into the 21st Century with a video game iteration. So how does Rubik’s Puzzle World for DS shape up? Find out in my review of Rubik’s Puzzle World.
Well for starters let me mention even though I like to think I am good at puzzles I’ve never been able to solve a Rubiks Cube. As much as I hate to, I have to admit defeat when it comes to getting all of the colours matched up. So the initial prospect of having to solve a virtual Rubik’s Cube when I couldn’t manage the real one was a little daunting. I was pleased to hear that it was Dutch developer Two Tribes who are the programming guys behind Rubik’s Puzzle World DS, they have a great pedigree of games which include: Worms Open Warfare 2 and Toki Tori. I can’t imagine it’s easy to take a project such as the Rubik’s Cube and turn it into a fun game, after all the real thing isn’t that much fun after a while and there isn’t really much you can do with a plastic block for any length of time. So if anyone could flesh out the Rubik’s Cube into a living, breathing and fun game for the DS, it had to be Two Tribes. Thankfully they haven’t let me down because Rubik’s Puzzle World features more than a simple three dimensional Rubik’s Cube to play with, there are over 100 levels split into eight different game categories to choose from – each being quite different from the last, let’s take a quick look at them:
- Rubik’s Cube – Solve a traditional 3×3 Rubik’s Cube, a smaller 2×2 Cube or the mammoth 4×4 Cube. If you have always wanted to learn how to complete a Rubik’s Cube then this is the mode for you, you can start with the smaller 2×2 cube and work your way up to the ultra hard 4×4 cube. Whatever the size the principle is exactly the same but that still doesn’t make it a walk in the park. Controlling the Cube is easy, simply tap and hold one of the coloured squares and drag in the direction you would like to rotate the section. Even though you can rotate the cube and the camera around, this isn’t quite as much fun as having the real Cube in your hands but it’s very realistic and a great interactive way to learn the secrets.
- Fit – Imagine Tetris but somewhat more inverted, line your Cubies up so that they correspond with the wall which is about to fall down towards them. You may have seen the special Guillotines that magicians use to shock and awe audiences around the world, everyone gasps as the blade rushes down towards the head but when it strikes the head stays attached but usually some poor carrots or a cauliflower get chopped in half instead. Well imagine that but with coloured cubes! The top DS screen displays the falling wall (the blade) as well as the silhouettes of the cubes below. Tap the cubes on the bottom screen and move each individually into a position so they are safe from being knocked away when the wall falls after a set period of time. Tricky yet addictive!
- Roll – Get your Cubie(s) to the exit by rolling them around the level; avoid falling off the sides and touching enemies. One could describe this slower paced and squarer version of marble madness, your Cubie(s) are situated on a floating isometric platform/maze which is displayed on the top screen – you need to tap the directional pad on the bottom screen to move your Cubie(s) in a choice of four directions (forward, back, left and right). Once your Cubie is on his way the only thing that will stop him is a wall, so you’ll need to plan your route well to avoid falling off of the sides of the platform. Later you need to rescue multiple Cubies and will even have enemies Cubies to avoid, with no weapons you’ll have to be very clever in either timing your movements to miss the baddies or be brave and use one of your Cubies as a stationary wall to throw the bad guys in a different direction. Pretty good and gets really tough on later levels.
- Switch – Tap the Cubies on the touch screen to swap Cubies around, connect at least five matching coloured Cubies together to make them disappear before the arena fills up. Switch feels like a cross between Polarium, and Tetris. Faced with a screen full of coloured blocks your task is to group five Cubies of the same colour together in a horizontal or vertical line. You do this by tapping on a single Cubie to pick him up and then tapping on a second to swap them over. When you do manage to get a group of at least five together they start to dissolve and disappear which frees up valuable screen space. This is important because it’s a race against time to keep the screen clear of Cubies as more will soon arrive to clutter things up and add pressure. If your screen becomes full it’s game over.
- Colour – Similar to Roll but now you have the added task of painting your Cubies the correct colour before you can move them successfully towards the exit. What makes Colour a harder and more interesting mode is that the colour of your Cubie (or to be more precise, each of the six sides) is very important in progressing. Coloured tiles on the floor are now sticky sensitive, so if a Yellow sided Cubie touches a yellow floor tile it will stick solidly to it; this can either be a help or hindrance. As you can imagine there are some wickedly brain teasing levels to be found here where you have to purposely colour each side of your Cubies to correctly navigate a sequence of colour floor tiles. Great stuff.
- Calculate – A cross between Nintendo’s Maths Training and Picross. Complete simple maths sums to create shapes and fill the grid. Calculate isn’t the most fun aspect of Rubik’s Puzzle World but it’s not a bad little game. The top screen shows you two sums which are typically quite simple (e.g. 2+8 and 11-6) and you must tap the corresponding answers as coordinates into the grid on the bottom screen within 15 seconds. As you do so a drawing will begin to emerge and if it matches the correct final picture you will move onto the next and harder image. If you fail you will have to try again with an easier one.
- Create – Drag Cubies around the touch screen to create cubical themed drawings. Not so much of a game really, Create allows you to draw very blocky pictures which are then used in game, generally in the background. There is no compulsion to do so though and it’s not that fun or useful, shame.
- Compose – Create your own music tracks by using the various coloured sound emitting Cubies, along with the accompanying piano keys. Similar to Create but with sounds, choose from 5 different sound sample selections and then play a little ditty on the 25 key piano to create a song. You have five tracks to fill and can get a decent few bars of sound if you persevere hard enough but I didn’t really feel that inclined to spend a good hour doing so just for the chance to hear it played in the game, if you liked the music creator in Mario Paint you’ll love this.
For the most part the different game modes are pretty fun and fit in well with the Rubik’s world, as it happens none of them are deep enough to have been fleshed out into a full game in their own right but put together in a package like this makes perfect sense. There is a good twenty hours of puzzle fun to be had here, even more if you like puzzle games but take an age complete them. If you fancy a change from the regular mode you could always find a friend with a DS and share your game wirelessly for some two player action. Whilst you can only play three games (fit, switch and Rubik’s Cube) in head to head mode it’s always more fun to play with someone else and as you don’ have to own two copies of the game (single card download play) it’s ultra fun.
Even though Rubik’s Puzzle World for DS isn’t really an original puzzle game it’s still a pretty good package for a portable mental workout, the 3D models and graphics are crisp and clear and all nicely animated. The music and sound effects are a little on the plinkity plonkity side but suit the game well enough. With the game almost entirely style driven it’s a great title for the core and casual gamer alike and as the Rubik’s Puzzle World release date is the 7th November. I award Rubiks Puzzle World a rather good 8 out of 10.
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