Review by SneakTheSnake
"Get your kixx with Qix times sixx"
If you can't improve on the original concept, just re-work it. That seems to be the mantra of the developers of Cubixx HD, a new title for the PSN. It's little more than taking the classic arcade title Qix and restructuring it to take place on a cube; there's little more to it. However, the price is right, and the difficulty's pretty fair, thus making it a fine, addicting arcade title for the downloadable service.
For those unfamiliar with Qix, it works like this: You take control of a small device which moves along the edges of a square. Holding a button down lets you go inside the confines of the square and claiming parts of its territory. You can claim parts of this square only if you return to its edges, so you can take small chunks from the inside of the square with each passing go. Once you "chisel out" the required amount of the square, you win the round and proceed to the next. There are various enemies roaming around the edges of the square, and you can't travel out for too long a time. You also can't chisel your way into a corner or chisel over parts you've already gone over. It's fast, it's addicting, and it's been remade several times before, but not quite like this.
Cubixx takes the idea of Qix and puts you on a cube instead of a simple square. Each edge now occupies two sides of a cube, so you have a lot more territory to try and cover. You slide seamlessly from one edge of the cube to the next, and each of the six surfaces has its own baddies both inside and around the cube. The same premise is there, the same simple control scheme; go around the cube, hold down a button to start chiseling off parts of the cube, and the same rules about baddies and chiseling over precious lines apply here too. If you happen to chisel off all four sides of one square, the game simply moves your cursor back to one of the edges of the cube, so you're never trapped.
It sounds more complicated than it actually is. In many ways, Cubixx epitomizes the spirit of the classic arcade game: simple premise, repetitive, predictable gameplay, and no mercy in the difficulty department. You'll have to hone your skills if you want to rack up high scores (for example, you earn combos if you continuously shift edges of the cube while you're chiseling) and clear the level, you'll have to be quick on your feet. I feel Cubixx HD moves a bit more quickly than it should - I can't help but shake the feeling that the original Qix moved a bit slower, or at least gave you two speeds for your chiseling - but at least there are six sides one can potentially hide out on.
The music, sound and graphics are not especially impressive, but they fit the same bill as the retro remakes that have hit the market these days. Expect to hear a lot of generic techno music ala Tempest 2000 or Robotron 64 while you play Cubixx HD. The graphics are minimalistic, as there really are no flashy menus, intriguing graphics or even in-game backgrounds to speak of. That's fine, I suppose, as I imagine it would only be distracting anyway. What is equally intriguing and potentially disorienting is that, within the cube, you see a pulsating yellow / orange core. The rest of the cube fades away and the core explodes once you expose the required amount of the cube. This can be quite impressive to look at, but it might detract from gameplay.
I can recommend Cubixx HD for those who yearn for well-done retro remakes. It does not do as well as Pac-Man Championship Edition or the excellent Geometry Wars in simultaneously rekindling the classic spirit and adding something this-gen to it, but Cubixx HD is a good choice for the paltry investment. It's nice to look at, nice to listen to, and the gameplay is timeless. Just don't expect too many bells and whistles, like an adventure mode, or even for it to save your progress once you get a game over. Just like the classics, the campaign must be completed in one sitting, and that is just one of the many ways Cubixx HD clings tenaciously to its retro roots.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 03/05/13, Updated 03/11/13
Game Release: Cubixx HD (US, 09/20/11)
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