With Nintendo finally implementing its storage solution recently, many of you may be choosing to revisit their virtual shop fronts to see what's on offer. Chances are, you may well have missed out on Nintendo's ArtStyle offerings that have come to WiiWare, a series of small puzzle games from the same tree as the Game Boy Advance's Japan-only bitGenerations titles. While the other two released, Orbital and Rotohex, are direct adaptations of bitGenerations titles, Cubello is completely original.
The intent of the ArtStyle series is that the titles under its banner are simplistic, experimental titles that might not necessarily have concepts considered substantial enough for full retail releases; in fact there's a significant chance that WiiWare was created because of the ArtStyle games rather than the other way around. Cubello is an odd mix of a puzzler and target shooting game. You're presented with a clear cube, the Cubello, that rotates in three dimensions in the middle of the screen with several colours of blocks attached to it. Your objective is to remove the coloured blocks and leave the Cubello floating around on its own, completing the level. Simple enough, right? Well, this is where the shooting comes in. On the left of the screen is an ammo meter filled with coloured cartridges to represent further blocks. Aiming with the Wii pointer, you shoot these at the blocky mess residing in the middle of the screen by clicking A, trying to match up colours. Once you have four or more of the same colour connecting they'll explode away and any blocks left floating in the air will rearrange themselves so that they connect to the central mass. Still easy enough, though, isn't it?
Wrong. As mentioned, the Cubello is continually spinning around, and with it go the coloured blocks, meaning that your reactions and aiming have to be in tip top shape if you want the blocks to land where you want them. However, you can't just sit there waiting for the mass to swivel round to get your optimal shot if you miss it the first time - the structure moves towards the screen as it spins, getting larger and larger until it hits the screen: game over. While completing a section of blocks and removing them will send it all the way back to its starting point, merely shooting at it without taking anything out will push it back a little. Thus, the game becomes a balancing act: do you wait as long as possible for the best shot, hoping that you can send it all the way back, or do you opt to send anything anywhere to buy yourself a little more time?
To add another layer, you've only got a limited amount of ammunition. Removing blocks from the structure will refill your meter with a few more squares, but fail to get rid of anything for a few turns in a row and you'll find yourself with nothing left in reserve facing a big game over. To aid you there's the chance of bonus time. Whenever you blast away a few blocks in succession a slot machine-style spinner will appear, and if the symbols all match up you'll get one of two bonus rounds: a flashing cube above your ammo meter which gives you unlimited ammo of whatever colour you desire (cue: shooting at the cluster like a maniac until time runs out, ensuring combos a-plenty), or unlimited blocks of one colour (which will switch over to a different colour should you clear the original lot, and so forth until the time runs down). Bonus time, though it only lasts for thirty seconds or so, is a lifesaver when your situation is looking dire, but players cannot get complacent and rely upon it due to the random nature of their appearances.
Cubello is a confusing game to get your head around at first, and in your first couple of goes it's highly likely that you'll fail near instantly. After the initial few rounds, however, the gameplay just clicks and blocks are collapsing away all over the place in no time. The pointer control is perfect, and there's rarely a time that blocks don't land where intended such is its accuracy, threatening to make the experience too easy, but this is offset by the limitations imposed: the lack of ammo available and the danger of the mass crashing, plus the incessant spinning that ensures players have to be careful with their timing. Some of the puzzles will take just a couple of minutes while others can last around ten (frustratingly, levels can be extended by a minute or so on occasions due to the game not giving you the right coloured blocks you need to finish off, but when that's the only negative to be garnered something has gone well), and once you've got through the 30-odd puzzles there's an endless mode to test yourself on. For 600 points, Cubello is more than worthy of taking up some of the 'blocks' of your Wii memory.
Baffling on first glance, but once it resonates there's no turning back. The controls are beautifully simple but allow you to manipulate the complex block patterns without any hindrance.
Functional clean 3D cubes that do nothing to offend but nothing to dazzle, either.
The robotic voice that announces every move is bound to irritate some, while the music starts simply and ramps up the tension by getting louder and faster, in conjunction with alarm noises, as the Cubello spins closer to the screen.
The levels aren't going to take too long to complete, but endless mode should keep fans going for a while.
Read and post comments
Cubello is an excellent start to the ArtStyle series, and future entries have a high standard to match up to. It's an example of a game that couldn't be done anywhere else but Wii (with the possible exception of DS) as traditional control inputs would not feel fast enough to play it as it was intended, and it goes to show that there's still plenty of scope for combining unexpected genres to create something sublime. You can't go wrong for the equivalent of a fiver.
Beware for the computer voice included with it though. People living in you house but not playing this game will get mad....
My wife likes to have madworld in the background more than this
But it is an outstanding little game, no doubt. Real pick up and play value, and a very clever puzzler. hitting the blocks on the correct side to make your structure spin the way you want it to is perhaps the best part of the excellent gameplay experience this game provides
It's possible to play it 'just like that' or play it hardcore with every move counting. You can play it too like 5 minutes or for hours, beating the highscore.
It's small but dazzling. I agree with C3, it was a gift from a friend, about it couldn't be a greater one. I like it a lot!
I find your lack of faith disturbing!
I love Cubello - great pick-up-and-play game (at least that's what I think. Seems some find it confusing at first ). Rotohex and Orbital are fun as well. I'm currently hooked on Code and Aquite on DSiWare as well. More please Skip!
Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
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Seems like a neat lil' puzzler, and with a neat sounding title too. Loving these ickle games coming out on the download services, especially how you can just launch it and give it a coupla goes without spending too much time.
Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer
Great little gem, missus played it loads back in the days. Shame it wasn't released on handheld as it would be pixel-perfect for stylus play!