Rubik’s World Review for Nintendo DS

Rubik’s World Review for Nintendo DS

Cubically Intriguing

For many, the brightly colored Rubik’s Cube is an instantly recognizable piece of late 70’s and 80’s pop culture. Some call it a demon block; others call it a good way to spend an afternoon.

Rubik's World screenshot

The little cubic device with twisting and turning parts is believed to be the best-selling toy worldwide. With such a large install base and such wide recognition, it makes sense for a publisher to cash-in with a video game based heavily around the original puzzle block. The cube can be incredibly challenging to solve, if you don’t possess the key to the puzzle. Rubik’s World offers a little more diversity and slightly less frustration.

Developed by Two Tribes, Rubik’s World is a mini-game collection that thematically blends a handful of different puzzle elements together under the Rubik’s Cube umbrella. Loosely set in the curious land of the Cubies (personified versions of the little individual blocks that make up the large cube), the game gives a subtle nod to the blocky inhabitants of Tetris Worlds – albeit in a less compelling way. You’ll interact with the blocky “creatures” (which are really just blocks) in numerous mini-games offering varying levels of complexity and depth. The collection apes some concepts from other puzzlers and throws in a few random, hit-or-miss distractions that don’t really fit in very well, but there’s some addiction-forming potential here.

Though the collection touts having eight different mini-games, several aren’t really games at all. Take out these toy-like distractions, and the initially robust appearance of this package starts to lose some of its luster. Two of the other activities – perhaps the most engaging in the bunch – are basically the same game with slightly different rules and minor tweaks in presentation. Several of the other games are decent but not amazing takes on existing games. That said, the challenges and substantive gameplay to be found here should be enough to keep players busy for some time.

Rubik's World screenshot

No gaming package based on the Rubik’s Cube would be complete without the original puzzle toy itself. Fortunately, Two Tribes recognized this and made sure to include it in the collection. The angle of the 3D cube can be manipulated with the stylus to peek at it from every direction, while twisting a row or column is done easily with a quick flick. In fact, all the games are manipulated with simple touch controls. The cube comes in three different sizes – 2×2, 3×3, and 4×4 grids – to bend your brain around. Additionally, another play mode starts you out with a solved cube and asks you to deconstruct it to match different color pattern assignments. Overall, it’s an excellent and faithful virtual representation and implementation of the classic toy.

Getting back to the other highlights of the collection, Roll tasks you with guiding a Cubie through an isometric, 3D obstacle course populated with other dangerous, death-dealing Cubies. Ok, it’s not quite as menacing as it sounds, but touching any other moving blocks during your trek down, around, and through each level dishes out an instant game over. Each level is presented on the top screen, and your cube is controlled by tapping one of four directional arrows on the lower screen. Once you set it in motion, the cube will roll until it hits another object. You can’t change its direction until it stops. The increasingly tricky level designs challenge you to get creative in finding ways to get your block to stop at the right locations in order to proceed to the target square.

Rubik's World screenshot

Another similar mode, Color, works in much the same way. However, you can select different cubes laid out around the course and change the color of each of their sides individually. When you get them rolling, they’ll stick to tiles of similar color they come in contact with, providing platforms for you to roll your Cubie along to the finish line. Both have several difficulty settings and many levels to travel through. They can get quite tough further along, and attempting to navigate the later levels provides some ample brain-straining fun. These two modes are among the more addictive in the bunch.

The three other main mini-games are each quite different. Whether you’ll find them more or less entertaining than others in the package is a matter of personal taste. Fit has you organizing a set number of blocks into a specific pattern located within a walled-off area. The blocks can only be moved along the sides of other blocks, and you’ll have to make the arrangement fit within a set amount of time. Match is a variation on Collapse and Match-three games, where you’ll switch between two blocks of differing colors to clear out sections of five or more blocks of the same color. Doing math isn’t fun, but the Math mini-game is basically a variation on Picross that’s definitely more enjoyable than algebra.

Rubik's World screenshot

That’s it for the serious games. The leftovers provide an opportunity to be creative visually and musically, but they don’t really rise to the same level of the other offerings. Compose is a 16 step music sequencer. By manipulating Cubies and tapping out notes on a virtual keyboard, you can program a percussion track and four different melody lines to create short musical pieces. Create lets you pick from different colored Cubies to arrange them into shapes on a blank canvas. They’re both mildly amusing little activities geared toward younger players.

By nature, the Rubik’s Cube is a colorful device, and this translates into the mini-game designs. You’ll see a lot of the same basic colors repeated over and over again. The foundation elements in each game are mostly muted grays, whites, and dull colors – presumably to provide more of a contrast for the bright blocks. While this works, it doesn’t make for a particularly great visual experience. The animated transitions that pop up when selecting a mini-game are a nice touch; aside from the written instructions and descriptions, they’re the only real elements that further the concept of the little blocks being little beings in a 3D world.

Rubik’s World provides a mixture of fun and nostalgia that should appeal to younger and older players alike. Admittedly, there’s a lot of depth to explore in this decent themed collection, yet the games start to bleed together after a while. Some activities are highly entertaining; others are disappointing. It’s a worthy rental – warranting a purchase for serious Rubik’s Cube fans – but there are far better puzzlers out there.

Simple, colorful, and not particularly amazing. 3.5 Control
The stylus-centric control scheme works well, though it can occasionally be awkward. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There are some catchy tunes among the bunch but nothing special here. 3.8

Play Value
Tons of levels, a few really interesting play modes, and a good level of depth have the potential to keep puzzle addicts busy for a long time.

3.2 Overall Rating – Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Play eight unique games which mix puzzles, quizzes, music and sound activities – as well as the classic cube solving game!
  • Multiplayer will allow you to share the fun with family and friends. Compare your game stats and progress, share environments, music compositions and more!
  • Each game requires forward thinking and involves complex mechanics but a simple interface – all based on the idea that every reaction can have multiple reactions
  • Expand your Rubik’s universe. The better you play, the more Cubies come to life, unlocking new challenges and activities

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