The GU iOS Game of the Week: Cubemen
- By: CM Boots-Faubert
- Posted 20th Jul 2012
In the world of mobile gaming the ideal game is one that allows gamers to play in convenient bite-sized chunks while at the same time allowing for marathon play if they have the time and the inclination. In a perfect world every iOS game is created with the sort of immersive quality and challenge levels that makes gamers want to play them -- but we don't live in the ideal world, we live in the real world, and often it seems like even games with a good premise end up getting shoveled onto the iOS platform with very little care and less bug-stomping. Happily that is not the case with Cubemen!
Developed for the iPad by independent Australian studio 3 Sprockets -- and you know some of the best mobile games in recent memory have come out of the Land Down Under -- Cubemen is a 3D Tower Defense game that mixes TD and RTS -- in Mayhem Mode you can play with up to six players online -- and there are multiple modes of single-player play including skirmish (1 vs 1 either AI or online), and defense (single player vs. AI).
The basic premise is that age-old struggle between Good vs Evil, Blue vs Red, Little Men vs Little Men. Using your own little Cubemen army to defend your base from other little Cubemen that are trying to overrun it, and what you have is the quintessential factors necessary for a fun romp in the world of bite-sized gaming!
In place of static towers you get a changing landscape in which strategy is dictated by goals, with the strategic element being your army of little men! Issue them orders to get to a certain location to attack or defend, and then act and react as the battle develops, because every good iPad general knows that no plan ever completely survives on the battlefield.
A Little Hand's On Gaming
Once you get used to the interface -- and the fact that your army is made up of small cubemen -- the stand-out elements in this title are its features (it is a feature rich game) and its support structure, which can only be classed as being in the ongoing development and fully-supported type of title. In fact while the game is complete and playable right now, the developers are still adding features, with a level building utility being planned for the near future! Add in the game world and its elements which is at once stark and at the same time elegant, and it is easy to begin to suspect that there was a Feng Shui Master on the development team.
The game is map-based, and each map has different elements from the number of waves to the structure, and was built with a large set of achievements in it, which adds to the fun if you happen to be a collector of achievements (and who isn't?!). As you might expect with a modern mobile game, it has built-in support for social media (Facebook and Twitter) allowing gamers to brag a bit and upload screens and pics of their cubemen. Why would they want to do that? Well, for the obvious reasons -- we did mention bragging rights -- but also because the game includes customizable cubemen! Seriously!
Creating your own personalized cubemen army includes the ability to take photos or images from your picture library and use them to customize their face, you can give them eye-patches or make them into ninjas -- the sky is the limit! Naturally when a developer builds a game that is both simple and elegant AND allows you to imprint it with your own personality and sense of humor those features get used. A lot. In the process of reviewing the game we met gamers who spend as much time tinkering with their cubemen customization as they do playing the game.
As the battle rages with each group of enemy you kill you unlock more cubes, and the cubes grant you access to different unit types that you can use to defend your tower, allowing you to bring strategic weapons into play -- including the uber cubeman Lazlo, who is the most expensive unit in the game (he costs 100 cubes) but who can heal your troops, automatically moves around the map doing his thing on his own (he is self-directed) and the smart general can turn the tide with him -- and his army of course.
Game play is not simply win-lose, but includes scoring (with online high score boards as well as other statistical records) that is performance based, as at the end of each battle your score is tallied up based upon elements like the number of waves you survived, how many enemies you killed, how many lives were left at the end of the battle, how many cubemen you have left, and how many cubes remained unspent, while the score is deducted for how many cubemen in your forces died, and deaths in mid-wave.
Recognition in the game is not restricted to just achievements (wait, did we say "just" achievements?? Achievements are cool!) but also includes a medal-based recognition system using the important metals -- you know, Silver, Gold, Platinum, Hotdog -- OK, there is not really a Hotdog medal but wouldn't it be cool if there was?
After spending more time playing than was really necessary -- and working very hard to convince the special people in our life that it was necessary game play whereas taking out the trash and washing the dogs IRL is NOT necessary game play -- we came away very favorably impressed with this one, even though when we first sat down to play it we did not like it. Well, actually we did sort of like it, but we did not like the learning curve, because until you actually sit down and learn how the game works you feel sort of dumb when the enemy pretty much walks all over you because you did not know how to stop them...
But once you DO know how to stop them, hey, it gets a lot more fun and entertaining. The game does not exactly have instructions on how to start playing at first -- there is no tutorial system in the game and we felt like that is a glaring absence -- so your mind has to sort of work around the problems as you get to know each unit, but if you are willing to do that, the payoff is immense in the form time travel. Well, yeah, if you discover that you are missing whole minutes from your life, that is time travel, right? Because this game does that. It is that intense. And that is why Cubemen is the GU iOS Game 'O the Week!
To score your own copy of Cubemen (which is an iPad ONLY title) point your browser at http://itunes.apple.com/app/cubemen/id466248152?ls=1&mt=8 and be prepared to lay out some serious cash -- like $1.99 cash -- which is the price of a hot dog but hey, medals, achievements, fun! It balances out.