Remember Qix? Sure you do. That classic arcade game released back in ’81? No? Well, it was rather popular back in the day and has spawned a surprisingly large number of sequels, ports and imitations. While many of these releases have done little to improve upon the initial template, Cubixx HD takes the same core concept of laser assisted land grabbing and turns it into one of the more fiendishly addictive puzzle games of the generation.
Cubixx HD plays much in the same way as its predecessors, in that you are tasked with stealing away as much of the available land as possible by cutting squares and rectangles without being struck down by the enemy. The big difference here though, is that, unlike previous incarnations, Cubixx HD goes and throws the third dimension into the mix to breathe new life into the ageing formula. Rather than cutting shapes into a flat surface, Cubixx HD gives you all six sides of a cube to work with. This simple but brilliant twist immediately makes Cubixx HD a more challenging and infinitely more interesting prospect than 2009’s disappointing XBLA release, Qix++.
Rather than simply rehashing the original idea with some flashy new graphics, Cubixx HD revolutionises the concept with its 3D game space and host of power ups and enemy types. The first few levels of the 50 level campaign will prove a breeze as you easily eat up the 70% of the cube required for success with little resistance from the enemy (or Cubixx as they are referred to here). Things soon escalate though, with power downs soon slowing your speed and a host of enemies eager to take you down. With all this going on and six sides of a cube to contend with, Cubixx HD quickly becomes a very challenging experience.
While the high difficulty will put some gamers off, the one more go mentality built into many of the best arcade-style releases is truly apparent here. Much in the same way that Trials HD, Super Meat Boy and Geometry Wars can covertly steal away hours of your day, so too can Cubixx HD’s amazingly addictive mix of skill and lateral thinking if given half a chance.
Beyond the already substantial Campaign Mode, Cubixx HD is also home to time challenges, score attacks and other increasingly fiendish game modes. While none of these move far from the games core mechanics, they do ramp up the challenge and add longevity for those looking for some serious challenge. The rather epic package (remember, this game will only set you back £6.29) is rounded off by a surprisingly robust and enjoyable selection of online modes. With co-op and competitive play available for up to six online players, things can quickly get pretty manic, but get the right kind of players involved and Cubixx HD can be a gloriously tense, highly rewarding experience when played online.
Not just happy with being a highly addictive puzzler, Cubixx HD also happens to be extremely easy on the eyes and ears to boot. Although limited by design, Laughing Jackal has done a great job of giving the game a distinctive and very sharp visual style that is further complimented by a fantastic selection of tracks that fit the gameplay to a tee.
Cubixx HD is a slick, addictive and hugely enjoyable puzzler that does a great job of taking an age old concept and bringing it bang up to date. It might prove a little too challenging for some, but if you are willing to persevere, Cubixx HD may well prove to be one of the more pleasant gaming surprises of 2011.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 3 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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