Cubemen 2 (Wii U) Review

By Dan Stanyon 04.10.2014

Review for Cubemen 2 on Wii U

Tower defence games are readily available as flash games on various websites across the internet, but their simple premise and gameplay hasn't yet rendered them popular on consoles. Cubemen 2 is an inventive take on the genre, which tries hard to flesh out a simple concept, with cross-platform online play, a comprehensive level editor and a potentially never-ending single-player campaign thanks to user-made levels. Unfortunately it suffers from a few fairly major problems, which include a very sterile presentation and a complete lack of players online. There is some fun to be had with Cubemen 2, but it serves as a reminder of why most games in the genre are free.

The gameplay of Cubemen 2 will be a familiar concept to anyone who has played a tower defence game before; there is a base to be defended, an enemy base where hordes of enemies spawn and a large amount of space in-between. The maps are grid-based to enable easier strategic placement of towers, which is particularly fluid thanks to the Wii U GamePad's touch screen. What Cubemen 2 does differently is that the "towers" are in fact mobile units - the titular Cubemen walk from the base to the destination and take out any enemies that fall in their sights on the way. There's a wide array of Cubemen units to deploy, ranging from the simple foot soldier to mortar-wielders, flamethrower-users and ice-summoners. Each unit costs money, and more money is gained from destroying more enemies; if all goes according to plan, the map will be heavily guarded by the end of the sometimes fairly lengthy levels with a big cubic army.

Screenshot for Cubemen 2 on Wii U

The single-player campaign is a modest 30 levels (split over two campaigns - a standard and an expert) but these will take a good couple of hours to beat. The enemies start out few and feeble on the first levels, but before long the levels are taking upwards of ten minutes, and may require quite forward-thinking and strategy to be successful. Cubemen 2 is not an expressly difficult game, but it does require trial-and-error to see what strategies will work on some of the later levels. Whether this is seen as challenging or frustrating will depend on the player. What is definitely frustrating is that money to purchase the cubic troops is just a little too scarce - rarely can more than three of even the medium-expense units be bought at the beginning of any level, and the income doesn't seem to generate very quickly. This is disappointing as it strangles the strategy of the game to have so few units available for purchase at any one time. Perhaps this decision was made in the interest of retaining difficulty, which is understandable, but it does mean that the satisfaction achieved in browser games such as Flash Element TD or Bloons TD, where the map would eventually be covered in the player's units unleashing hell on the onslaught of enemies, is hard to come by. This game is decidedly less chaotic.

Screenshot for Cubemen 2 on Wii U

The presentation is a mixed bag. The models are sharp and the game runs with no technical difficulties even with many enemies on screen. There's plenty of skinsets to customise the way the game looks, for the Cubemen themselves and for the maps, meaning it's possible to pit pirates against Saxons, all in an incongruous cityscape setting with textures reminiscent of Minecraft; but as this doesn't change the behaviour of the units or the gameplay in any fashion, it all comes across as a bit pointless. The maps are all placed in a large brown void, and there's only one theme tune which is on repeat in the menus and the levels themselves. Fortunately this track isn't hideously grating; even so, there's little to treat the eyes and ears to here.

Exploring the game's other modes, there is an intuitive and relatively deep level editor, and users can share maps online for downloading to local play and hosting online games. This is a nice touch by developer Nnooo, and it gives the sense that the game will continue to grow - some of the maps available were very elaborate and much larger than the single-player offerings.

Screenshot for Cubemen 2 on Wii U

Unfortunately, testing out what online gameplay is like against human opponents proved to be impossible as, despite the impressive decision to implement cross-platform play across all versions of the game, the online lobbies were completely empty on every occasion Cubed3 attempted to host or join games. The user-made levels can still be played with CPU opponents so they aren't rendered null, but this is a massive shame as a bustling online scene is crucial to keeping a game such as this interesting. This is particularly galling as the game was only released on the eShop a month ago!

Overall Cubemen 2 is a fun throwaway timewaster and represents a genre not seen on consoles very often, but it does little to convince players that's a bad thing. The single-player campaign is short and sweet but it isn't as deep or satisfying as even some flash games out there, and the online benefits of the console infrastructure are wasted due to an inactive community. The level editor is a really nice touch, but without players to play on them, there's little motivation to get the creative juices flowing.

Screenshot for Cubemen 2 on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Cubemen 2 is fun, but it's short-lived. The gameplay is relatively shallow (by necessity of the genre more than anything else) and there's little to do once the single-player campaigns are finished, which doesn't take very long. This is a game that could have done very well with a large online base of players, but without them feels like a lot of wasted potential. Does it warrant spending money when similar experiences can be found for free so readily? The answer isn't a straight "no," but there's little to recommend the Wii U version when the iOS version is considerably cheaper.

Developer

3 Sprockets

Publisher

Nnooo

Genre

Strategy

Players

6

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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