Cube Life: Pixel Action Heroes (Wii U) Review

By Lex Firth 15.09.2017

Review for Cube Life: Pixel Action Heroes on Wii U

Undisputedly this generation's Super Mario Bros. or Ocarina of Time - that is to say, a genre-defining release that's completely changed the gaming landscape after it - it's not surprising to see that Minecraft has inspired more than a few copycats in its time. Some games that ape in its customisable sandbox survival formula, such as Terraria, have managed to etch their own identity and step out of the blocky behemoth's shadow, whereas others, such as the still-in-development-hell UCraft, attracted criticism for being a little too similar to its predecessor. Where, then, does that leave Cube Life: Pixel Action Heroes, which lifts Minecraft's trademark aesthetic but adds a first-person shooter element, and have lessons been learned since the release of Cypronia's Cube Life: Island Survival?

At first glance, it's worryingly similar to Minecraft indeed. It's hard to ape the graphical style of the original, so simple is it that it can't be modified with ease, and it means that Cube Life struggles to make its own mark from the outside; even the menu buttons bear a striking resemblance to Minecraft's.

At the very least, the gameplay is quite different - where Minecraft (and indeed, this game's prequel, Cube Life: Island Survival) focus on survival in a sandbox environment, Pixel Action Heroes centres on action, with two of the three single-player modes focusing on shooting waves of enemies rather than living off the land.

The Practice and Zombies modes are where you will be spending most of your time here, and they are both similar in their missions - the player is attacked by an onslaught of enemies, and it's their job to use the (admittedly limited) array of weapons on offer to fend them off. Zombies is the more fleshed-out of the two, taking place on an island-style setting and keeping track of the number of waves of zombies that the player vanquishes for future reference; large boss enemies and power-ups scattered around the map help to keep things interesting. Meanwhile, Practice is dull in comparison, pitting the people against a number of bot enemies that seem to be a little too good in comparison - in fact, you will spend so much time dying that it often feels like the mode isn't worth its while, and that practicing in the regular Zombies mode is sufficient.

Screenshot for Cube Life: Pixel Action Heroes on Wii U

The same gameplay styles appear in local multiplayer and can be played co-operatively or competitively, and with a number of pre-made characters and maps, there's a surprising amount of content here - but only for those with the ability to play locally as, crucially, there's no online multiplayer here whatsoever (save for leader-boards). It's a disappointment for any multiplayer game in 2017 to lack a network component, but when online functionality is so integral to Minecraft's appeal, it's downright confusing that a game that clearly aims to capitalise on its success lacks such a fundamental facet.

Luckily, for solo players, there's a wealth of creative options on offer - maps are fully customisable and can be shared on Miiverse, while an in-engine skin creator is a welcome addition, although it's slightly limited, with only three custom slots and a confusing interface that lacks any real tutorial.

Speaking of tutorials, Pixel Action Heroes has none. The controls themselves do appear in the form of a loading screen that's too cluttered and arranged too awkwardly to actually be useful, and there's little indication of what each of the three main single-player modes are actually used for until the player actually experiences them for the first time - and even then, they are likely to leave confused.

Crucially, Pixel Action Heroes has an identity crisis. It wants to be a Minecraft clone with added FPS gameplay, but its Minecraft-esque features aren't up to standard because the controls are awkward, and the customisation is more limited, while its FPS features are equally lacking, with frustrating AI and a mind-boggling lack of online multiplayer being the main source of the frustrations.

Screenshot for Cube Life: Pixel Action Heroes on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

4/10
Rated 4 out of 10

Subpar

With Minecraft available on both Wii U and Nintendo Switch, it's difficult to work out where exactly Cube Life: Pixel Action Heroes belongs on the Wii U eShop. It tries to do too much and doesn't succeed immensely at any of it, making it little more than a watered-down clone with little lasting appeal for anyone outside of those wanting a local multiplayer shooter - and, even then, it's lacking.

Developer

Cypronia

Publisher

Cypronia

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  4/10

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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