Cubixx HD

Cutting It A Bit Too Close

Cubixx HD kicks Qix up a notch.
Author: Aram Lecis
Published: October 3, 2011
When you think back to classic arcade games from the early 80's, the ones that leap to the front of your mind are probably Pac-Man, Asteroids, Donkey Kong and if you are REALLY old, Pong. There are others you might have fond memories of, but it is unlikely you'd come up with Qix. I spent an inordinate amount of time at arcades back then, and while I remember Qix, it would never be in my top 20 games of the era and I don't think I'm alone in that way of thinking. I'm not saying it wasn't a decent game, it just wasn't all that memorable.


So that is why it comes a surprise to me that in recent years we have seen something of a spate of Qix clones. From the Taito-licensed Qix++ to the PlayStation minis Fortix and Cubixx (I guess you can't make a Qix clone without the -ix suffix), good old Qix has gotten way more love than seminal older games like Defender. Now Laughing Jackal, makers of the aforementioned Cubixx have released a full fledged PS3 PSN version, Cubixx HD.

If you aren't familiar with the Qix concept, it's pretty simple. You start with an empty square and you fill it in by drawing lines from the edges to another edge, making as many right-angle turns as you please. Once you enclose an area, it gets filled in and you make more lines and enclose more space until you reach a set percentage filled in. Making this task difficult is an enemy who floats around inside the square (the Qix, or in this case the Cubixx) who kills you if he touches your line before you complete it. Since the game automatically encloses the area the Cubixx isn't in, you can't kill him and as your open area gets smaller, the harder it is to avoid having him touch your line.

The "spin" that Cubixx HD puts on this classic game is that you are now on a cube with six faces, each of which has a Cubixx on it and each of which contributes to the overall percentage you need to enclose. You are free to switch faces at any time merely by passing over an edge, and a big way of scoring is to keep your line moving over as many faces as possible. Power up like Shields and Time Freezes start appearing in the playfield, granting those powers if you enclose them, but beware, because there are also detrimental items you can grab too, like ones that slow your pen down greatly or reverse the directional controls.

The game takes place over 50 levels, and every five levels you hit a checkpoint so you can restart from that point if you run out of lives. As the game goes on, new enemies are introduced like mini-Cubixx, which can be destroyed if you bisect them from the Cubixx on their face, or sparks which chase you around the edges forcing you to draw more lines and not linger along the safety of the sides. The challenge picks up appreciably as the levels move on, and by the time I got into the 20's I was finding the game to be quite difficult. Once you beat each section of 5 levels, you unlock additional modes to play in the levels you have beat. Other modes include Time Attack, which challenges you to beat the level in a set time, Score Attack, which tasks you with getting the highest score on a level, Line Attack, where you attempt to draw the longest line possible without hitting an already connected area, and the great Challenge mode, which offer Bronze/Silver/Gold awards for various alternate ways of playing, like creating six lines of a certain length, filling in a certain percentage with a set amount of lines, or finishing in a certain amount of time, among other things.

Lest you think this is a solitary adventure, there is both a Death Match mode where 2 players battle it out split-screen style to see who can cover the most territory the fastest, and all other modes can be played co-op with up to 7 players. That sure sounds fascinating, but alas, the co-op is local only, and not only do I not have 7 controllers, I don't even have 6 friends I could wrangle over to my house to check it out. I applaud them for including this feature, but limiting it to local makes it virtually worthless to almost every gamer. I did try some 2-player co-op, and it was a rip-roaring good time, but man I bet it would be chaotic fun with 7 players going at it all at once.

So is Cubixx HD a good choice for you? Sure, if you don't already own the mini, and you don't mind a game that isn't very replayable. The core conceit is pretty fun and if you have a posse of pals who might want to play then definitely give this one a shot.
The Verdict
7.0

In the world of Qix clones, Cubixx HD does enough to separate itself with a variety of challenges and some interesting modes. It loses some points for not including any online in a game that offers 7-player co-op though.

7.0Graphics:

They are best described as minimalist, although still shard enough to get that HD moniker. The vast majority of the game is vector lines with the occasional pulsating texture, and the color palette is limited.

6.5Sound:

A few techno tunes make a suitably appropriate ambience in the background, but the rest of the sound is as minimalist as the rest of the game.

9.0Control:

No complaints here. The controls are as simple as a single button and the analog sticks, and I never got hung up navigating vertices, so they work just like you'd want.

7.5Gameplay:

It's a fun take on a classic game with just enough modern twists to make it feel fresh. The game does a good job of tossing in new challenges every five levels and making sure it doesn't get too stale, but the concept is simple enough that it can get old.