Cube Tactics is a fantasy real time strategy game, wherein you place cubes on a map to reach your opponents and attack them, trying to destroy their ‘core cube’. There are a range of cubes with different powers: Castles which produce Knights, Hunters Camps which produce Archers to do ranged attacks, and so on. There are also combining effects, which mean that placing four of a particular type of block in a square together will upgrade multiple buildings into one especially powerful building to produce stronger units (such as a Royal Castle which produces Highlanders, who are stronger than mere knights). Further tactical elements come from block stacking, which means as well as placing blocks adjacent to one another you can also stack them up vertically, allowing you to get the higher ground.
The single player provides three modes: Tutorial, Quest, and Battle Royale. The game starts with the tutorial, which does a good job of explaining the basics without being too drawn out and boring. The quests start off quite basic, with no challenge to speak of – it is just a matter of placing cubes haphazardly as much as your energy allows. It does start to become more involved as more types of cubes are introduced, such as those that produce healers to support your attacking units, or witches that can convert enemy buildings to your side. But you do feel like the quests are just to provide more instruction on the intricacies of the game, rather than an actual challenge in of themselves. In Battle Royale you set up computer opponents and battle them, but this mode gets stale as there is really little variety.
Something that can be annoying is the seeming stupidity of the AI. You aren’t able to control your individual combatants, whichmeans they’ll sometimes be marching in the opposite direction to where you want them to go and there’s no way to re-direct them. However, when all goes well it does feel quite satisfying seeing your miniature army swarming over enemy cubes, like when you throw your brother’s half-eaten Mars bar into an ants nest to see what happens.
There is multiplayer, but annoyingly it is online only without any option for local multiplayer. This is a shame as Cube Tactics is the type of game that would really be suited to playing with your friends; it just seems silly not to include it. There is also an option for online multiplayer. However, this feature is difficult to play due to it being rather laggy.
The graphics are pretty good, especially considering this is a cheap eshop game. There are cute anime-style character sprites for each of the different classes of warrior. The 3D works well, and is well-suited to this sort of tactical game. The one thing letting it down is that the camera control isn’t very intuitive, with it being controlled by holding Y and using the circle pad. Especially in theheat of battle, when time can be of the essence, it’s very annoying to be fiddling around with trying to get the camera angle right. Cube Tactics has an adequate fantasy soundtrack which is fitting to the game’s setting, but one can’t help but feel it’s like a lesser imitation of the music of something like Final Fantasy or Soul Caliber.
A particularly useful feature is the option to press the X button to fast forward the action, which comes in handy when you’ve laid down all your cubes and are just waiting for your army to advance and destroy. Another useful feature is the option, during battle, to view information on the different types of cubes – the wide range of cubes and their effects can be quite daunting, so it’s good they included this.
Cube Tactics can be fun, but not often enough to wholly recommend it. Although there are a good range of blocks the gameplay does too often seem to descend into trying to place any random cube as fast as possible, and the “Tactics” in the title doesn’t seem to apply. The online also has a tendency to be a bit slow.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo 3DS code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - /10
Graphics - /10
Sound - /10
Replay Value - /10
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