Cuboingo is Fun Cubed

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I can remember a time when the game that was taking everybody’s quarters, and sucking away more work hours than pointless meetings was a now-classic game called Tetris. As time moved on, the market shifted, and we were treated to eras of shooters, RPGs, and strategy games. While these were all enjoyable in their own way, still I missed the days when a game with such an incredibly simple concept managed to capture the fancy of a game-playing nation.

Those days may be here again, thanks to Cuboingo.

In Cuboingo, you have a cube that is paneled on all six sides with different colors, though you can only see three sides at a time since you are looking at it point-on. Falling toward the cube toward the three visible sides are squares of the various colors, and the object is to rotate the cube so the squares fall onto the cube sides with the correct colors in order to make them light up. When you get all six sides lit up, you progress to the next level.

As the game increases in difficulty, the squares come down more rapidly, even to the point of having several on the screen at the same time. Other variations of the game can have each side of the cube split into four, nine or even 16 squares, making not only getting the correct side important, but also arranging that side so the little squares hit unlit areas. This can be exceedingly difficult when the squares are coming fast.

Each game of Cuboingo runs by loading a script file, which contains all the information about how fast the gameplay is, how many colors, how many squares each side is broken up into, and so forth. These script files can be opened up in a text editor, and are easy enough to understand that the average gameplayer could make a script to play all their own, or share it with friends. This ensures the game will have virtually unlimited use. HANDY NOTE: Always remember to make a copy of the script before fiddling with it.

The graphics and sound are about what you’d expect in a puzzle game. The music is enjoyable, and changes up enough to not get tedious. The sounds that the game makes when you make a wrong move or finish a level are particularly amusing.

One problem I encountered was with the game controls. The default controls for rotating the cube in the six possible directions are the left and right columns on the number pad. It is a difficult proposition to learn to rotate a simulated three-dimensional cube using a flat arrangement of keys set at different angles than the way the cube rotates. Admittedly, there really isn’t any better way to control it, as a mouse-controlled cube would be a nightmare. It’s not impossible to get used to these controls; it’s just that the learning curve for them is steep.

Another thing I noticed was the rapidity the games went from being really easy to virtually impossible. It seemed that no sooner had I gotten the hang of the environment of the game that I was assailed with squares coming in very fast from all over. Now, admittedly, since the scripts that are provided typically only go ten levels before ending, a rapid progression should be expected. Also, since you can make your own scripts, you can tweak the numbers until you have a difficulty progression that appeals to you. So, while this is not a major problem, I felt it was worth noting.

Cuboingo is a well-designed think-on-your-feet puzzle game that harkens back to the glory days of arcade puzzle games. And with the capability of unlimited game variations, Cuboingo has the potential to go well beyond them. It well deserves an impressive 4-gem rating.

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