Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cubic Ninja, review of the buttonless game

So for you that are unaware of Ubisoft's recent release Cubic Ninja for the 3DS, I am about to drop some knowledge on you. In Cubic Ninja, you take on the character, CC, a little ninja cube plagued with having to make his way through a hundred puzzles, filled with traps and multi-sided foes in order to save the kingdom’s abducted princess. Okay so it is a puzzle game, so what, well this is a game with no buttons, and no, the force is not involved. The little ninja is controlled by tilting the 3DS…please hold all questions as I will probably address them shortly. Before you make any judgment on whether or not you want to save the princess on a buttonless, motion controlled quest, I will let you know how my experience with the cute little puzzler went and hopefully address any questions regarding my playthrough.

So to start, the game is not in 3D when using the motion control to play through the 5 levels, which each contain 20 stages or puzzles. This is a good thing for any of you that have spent time with the 3DS know that movement of the unit causes you to lose the 3D effect and gain a headache. Now for the caveat, you can play in 3D with the circular pad if you go into the options, which is what I preferred. The playthrough was fun, lasting maybe 3-4 hours to get through, but there is a lot of replay value to unlock items for the level creator. Yup, I left that out of the features on purpose, you can create, share, and download puzzles via QR codes, equating to a likeness found in Little Big Planet with unlimited play options depending on the community. I did create my own little level with the items received after the third section and it was pretty easy and intuitive, for making a 3D stage. Lastly, CC is not the only playable character; you will unlock other ninjas, each with their own unique control characteristics to help lower times on previous completed levels.

I think anyone that has read my reviews on Wii titles that do not make good use of the motion controls knows my take on the feature. I don’t like it. The motion controls are not bad in this game, however I am not a flexible person, and I am not sure if it is just me, but playing through the first 20 levels without buttons had me twisting my arms and neck into what can either be classified as a seizure or unidentified yoga positions. The good side of the motion controls aside from how accurate it felt was passing the 3DS to my wife and daughter, sneaking pictures from the phone for later ridicule. The biggest let down was the online community as there is not much in the way of downloadable level and sure you can find some QR codes out there for it if you scour the interwebs, but nowhere near the ease of locating and downloading like that found in other games, ahem…Little Big Planet. There is a boss on the 20th stage of each level and though some easier than others, but at times due to the movement mechanics, can be pretty frustrating, but isn’t that what bosses are put into games for?

Cubic Ninja is a rather enjoyable game from start to finish. The 3D effects worked really well when using the circle pad. Though short, it is almost more fun to go back and try to beat times, find scrolls, and try different levels with the unlocked ninjas as each has their own unique gameplay characteristic, giving the upper hand on some stages. This is a solid puzzle game, and though it does have unlockables and challenges to keep you coming back for more, it is not a platformer in which I and some may have expected upon purchasing, but is a rather pleasant surprise none the less.

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