We Are Cubes

196 days ago, I played an amazing title called Dead Pixels, which awed me like few other games on the Xbox Live Indie Game platform have.  I remember turning to my boyfriend after completing the game and saying “this is what I made Indie Gamer Chick for.”

Six months later, and it’s my privilege to tell him again, along with everyone else, this is what I made Indie Gamer Chick for.  We Are Cubes is simply amazing.

There's really no point in showing pictures, since We Are Cubes is incomprehensible unless you're actually playing it. In fact, quit wasting your time. Just go buy it.

We Are Cubes does that thing neo-retro arcade titles tend to do, where it sort of reminds you of a Golden Age coin-op classic, but not really.  Hopefully you get what I’m saying, because I really suck at putting words to it.  In the case of We Are Cubes, it’s kind of like Tempest, but it’s also kind of like the 1983 Star Wars arcade game, and yet it’s nothing like those games at all.  I was born in 1989, so the Golden Age of Arcades was tits up, lights out by time I hit the gaming scene.  With We Are Cubes, I can sort imagine what it felt like to step up to a new cabinet in a dusty old arcade of yesteryear.  Games like this make me feel like I missed out.

The idea is you’re a cube in a chute that has to shoot spheres.  Also, she sells seashells by the sea-shore.  The spheres come in four varieties of colors.  Yellow ones take a single shot to kill, green take two, blue three, and red four.  Every time you hit a shot, 10% is added to your combo.  If you miss a shot, you lose 20% of your combo.  If a sphere touches you, you die.  If you they fall past you in the chute, they get launched back onto the play field and you lose 10% of your current combo.  The hook is spheres split apart and then merge whenever they perfectly bump into each other.  So a blue sphere splits into two green spheres, which split into yellow spheres, which turn back into a green sphere if they bump together, etc, etc.  It’s a really cool idea, and it works.

There’s two modes of play.  Arcade ends after twenty-five waves, while Survival has you fight multiple “boss” orbs that shit out little baby orbs until you run out of lives.  Both modes can be played in a competitive mode, where you “work together” wink nudge while trying to kill each-other by grabbing controller-jamming power-ups.  Actually, most of the items in this game are pretty cool and practical, and learning how to best use them feels rewarding.  Early on, I figured the laser was the best one of have, but as enemies pile up, it can get pretty dangerous to use.  The freeze item works better because it allows you to shoot at enemies and rack up a higher combo.

By this point, your thumbs will be filing for legal separation.

We Are Cubes is all about landing a spot on the online leaderboards.  That’s pretty much the point of the game in its entirety.  And there’s nothing wrong with that.  I do have a few complaints.  Sometimes, the physics seem to crap out and an orb that is bouncing around ends up stuck to the wall.  If your trigger finger is as itchy as your girlfriend’s crotch, those types of situations end up with a missed shot and 20% points off your combo.  Of course, the flip side of that is if you’re the patient type, you get a wide open shot.  A more annoying problem is the game has a slight hiccup if you unlock a fakey achievement, causing a slight pause that did kill me once or twice.  If anyone from the development team had been in kicking distance of me, they would have had a size 6 1/2 up their ass.

Yes, I have teeny feet.

Despite minor problems, and I want to stress this so I’ll use bold, italics, and underlining, minor problems, We Are Cubes is one of the best video games I’ve played in years.  Not just for indie games.  Not just for Xbox games.  VIDEO GAMES.  The whole lot of them.  It ranks somewhere near the top.  We Are Cubes is proof that Xbox Live Indie Games is a platform worth sticking up for.  It’s a game that is oddly familiar, yet you’ve never quite played anything like it. At the end of the day, it earns it’s spot as the #1 game on my site because it feels like the quintessential video game.  It’s everything gaming should be.  Fast paced, reflexive, play-a-little-longer fun in its purest form.  We Are Cubes feels like it fell through a hole in time, straight out of the 80s and into your living room.  Kind of like the cast of the Celebrity Apprentice, only it doesn’t suck.

We Are Cubes was developed by 1BK

80 Microsoft Points are also grateful it didn’t bring back with it tacky sunglasses and Madonna in the making of this review.

Did you know I’m giving away 1600 Microsoft Points on Thursday?  Oh, you did.  You don’t care.  SighWell, you can at least humor me and vote for next week’s game.  Just follow the link for a list.

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

8 Responses to We Are Cubes

  1. Pingback: The Chick’s Monthly Top 10 Update: March 2012 « Indie Gamer Chick

  2. Mark (I run Xbox Indie Facebook thread and Grcade Recommended Indie Thread) says:

    I did mention the awardment issue, which I think is a save issue, to the developers on twitter.
    I think my description of the game is Pang crossed with Tempest (pinched that bit from you). It’s one of the few games lately I have wanted to dip back into over and over to try and better my score.

  3. Mark (I run Xbox Indie Facebook thread and Grcade Recommended Indie Thread) says:

    I seriously hope the occasional freeze issue isn’t stopping people picking this up. I had another go today but it logged me off xboxlive twice in one run, I got to level 24 in this run.

    The game needs a quick restart option too, going back to the title screen should be a choice no forced.

  4. Thanks Kairi for the great review!

    The saving stutter is caused by the XNA framework, we will try to work around this in a future update! We’ve also had people tell us that using a USB drive or MU reduces the issue which might help. On the plus side it should only happen 20 times, although it should not be happening it all.

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