“The series’ evolutionary take on Taito’s classic arcade title has made for one of the best games currently available on the Playstation Network
Contrary to popular belief, not all Playstation Minis are glorified iPhone apps. Sure the ‘good game to bad game’ ratio is pretty low but there are still several diamonds amongst the rough which are often overlooked in favour of “real” PSN titles. One of the best Minis currently available on Sony’s digital store is Cubixx. Developed by Laughing Jackal, Cubixx was a modern take on the classic arcade game Qix but with the action spanning across the six faces of a cube rather than a single 2D plane. Cubixx quickly become one of my favourite PS3 games but the fact that it was released under the Playstation Minis umbrella meant that the game was limited in many aspects. Playing what is essentially a PSP game on a 50” inch display is not particularly easy on the eyes and for that reason I always hoped that Laughing Jackal would eventually release a feature-rich, high definition version of Cubixx as a full PSN title.
Almost 2 years later, Cubixx HD is now a reality and I’m happy to report that the game has exceeded my expectations in almost every way. The series’ evolutionary take on Taito’s classic arcade title has made for one of the best games currently available on the Playstation Network, ranked amongst (if not, above) titles such as Super Stardust, Shatter, Flower and Pac-Man DX. But what exactly is Cubixx you ask? If you’ve never played Qix before the concept might seem a little strange but I’ll try my best to explain it without over-complicating the game’s relatively simple structure.
In Cubixx you control a spaceship (or “Cubot”) which hovers around the edges of a cube. Orange square-shaped enemies known as Cubixx are situated in each of the cube’s faces where they roam around freely. It’s your job to cut away segments of the cube, enclosing each Cubixx in as small of an area as possible. Cutting away a section of the cube which doesn’t house a Cubixx will cause that area to disappear. Once you've gotten rid of a certain amount of the cube (as indicated by a percentage quota at the bottom of the screen) the level is complete.
Cuts are made by firing a laser and travelling from one edge of the cube to another without being hit. During a cut, if an enemy comes in to contact the line that you’re currently crafting you’ll lose a life. As your ship can only travel in straight lines you’ll often find yourself making frantic leaps of fate across the cube’s surface in hope that your free roaming enemies don’t cross your path. Small purple squares referred to as Mini Cubixx are quickly introduced to the mix but unlike regular Cubixxes, these miniature models can be killed by creating a divide between them and their bigger brother. As you progress you’ll encounter more sinister enemy types such as Line Chasers who patrol the edges of the cube, getting rid of what was previously your only safe zone and Fuses which chase you along your created line each time you begin to make a cut.
“In terms of modes, Cubixx HD offers more than enough options to keep you busy for a very long time!
Cubixx HD is about more than simply making it to the end of each level; you’ll want to do so earning the highest score possible. Racking up high scores as you attempt to climb the online leaderboards takes up much of the game’s focus. The easiest way to keep a barrage of points flowing in is by collecting power ups (which come in to play as you progress) and performing “combos”. Combos are executed by cutting a continuous line through multiple faces of the cube. The longer the line and the more faces you cut through, the higher your income of points will be.
In terms of modes, Cubixx offers more than enough options to keep you busy for a very long time. Arcade mode alone features 50 levels divided up in to 10 stages. Thankfully the game saves your progress after each stage which means you won’t have to start back from the very beginning when you inevitably bite the bullet. Making it through to the end will take a mixture of skills, perseverance and luck but chances are you’ll enjoy every second of it. Once you’ve completed a level in Arcade mode you can then take on that same level in both Time Attack and Line Attack modes. Each of those three modes can be played with up to 7 players simultaneously but unfortunately I’ve only been able to sample the game’s multiplayer with two other people.
Also unfortunate is the complete lack of online multiplayer, which is particularly odd since the game heavily promotes its online leaderboard integration. I’m not sure how much people have 6 friends and 7 Dualshock controllers at hand to experience the full extent of multiplayer Cubixx but I’m sure that number can’t be very high. “Challenge” and “Deathmatch” complete the list of modes available in the game; the latter of which is only available via multiplayer.
Now here comes the hard part, what do I score Cubixx HD? On one hard it’s one my favourite games available on the PSN, but on the other hand the absence of online multiplayer just seems ridiculous. Given the games niche appeal it won’t be easy gathering a small army of people who would be willing to play this game with you. For that reason, Cubixx narrowly avoids a “perfect” score but still remains to be an essential PSN purchase.