Wii

North America

Art Style: CUBELLO

by Jonathan Metts - October 26, 2008, 10:31 am PDT
Total comments: 4

6

Art Style goes original.

Proving that Nintendo's Art Style series goes beyond remakes of the Bit Generations line, Cubello is an original puzzle game that could only be done with a pointer device. Like Orbient before it, the concept is very simple, and the aesthetics are stripped down to the bare minimum. Cubello isn't as deep or addictive as Orbient, but it still has some charm and is a good title to pick up for five minutes at a time, which is appropriate for a downloadable game since you don't have to switch discs.

Each level in Cubello consists of a big, complex structure made of different colored blocks. The structure is constantly rotating, and your goal is to blast away all the blocks until only the core block is left. Blocks are cleared away by matching at least four of the same color. (I should note that some colors, like dark blue and brown, look too similar against the bright background, and there is no special display mode for color blind players.) Since you just point at the screen and shoot blocks at the cluster, Cubello is briskly paced and initially feels more like a shooter than a puzzle game.

There are some subtle strategies that add depth, though. For one thing, it helps to place blocks efficiently, and that often means inserting them into tight spaces as the cluster rotates past your view. As the cluster gets smaller, you also have to carefully manage your "ammo clip" of colored blocks. It's very easy to make the obvious matches and end up with one extra green block, which will take several more moves to clear away. This is, in fact, one of the biggest problems with Cubello. It's a reasonable challenge to manage your blocks and avoid this situation at the lower levels. However, it's extremely difficult to fully clear the cluster with more than three colors, so completing any of the higher levels requires a lot of luck or a properly utilized bonus mode. The bonus mode is activated by a slot machine, though, so it's based on luck as well.

The game's camera is unusual and troublesome. Perhaps in service to simplicity, you have no control over the camera or the cluster's rotation. It spins of its own accord, sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly, and you'll often have to wait for a different side to come around before shooting the next block. Every shot causes the cluster to abruptly turn 180 degrees away from the point of impact. This makes it feel like the cluster is suspended in zero-gravity, and you are applying angular momentum with each move. It's initially jarring, but not hard to overcome after a few minutes of practice.

There are only two modes, and they're more or less the same. Normal mode consists of a series of levels, each one adding more colors and a more complex cluster. Each level also has a few variants with the same color set but different geometries. After playing through enough levels, an "endless" mode becomes available. It's a continuous string of levels, and you earn bonus points for clearing each cluster. Both modes record your high scores, which are only stored locally.

It’s also worth mentioning the computer voice that narrates the game. It's hilariously tacky, although lacking the personality of Portal's GlaDOS character. I was surprised to find a fully voiced tutorial in a WiiWare title. Less amusing is how the computer interrupts the techno soundtrack to telegraph every single move. Hearing it say "Block Pink" and "Block Blue" hundreds of times per level is undeniably annoying. The droll shout of "END!" upon completion of a puzzle is partially redeeming, though.

Cubello is definitely shallower and less sublime than Orbient, with at least one glaring design flaw and unfortunate sound design. Nevertheless, it can still be a fun diversion, and it does manage to present a unique sort of puzzle gameplay.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
5 6 8 6 5 6
Graphics
5

Simple is fine, but some of these colors are downright ugly, and others blend together at a distance, making the game artificially harder to play.

Sound
6

The music is fitting, but there's no option to turn off the computer's play-by-play. It's a shame, because this pseudo-character is entertaining in the menus and tutorials.

Control
8

The pointer is fast, responsive, and superbly accurate. An option for camera control would have been nice, as the cluster rotation is often too slow and occasionally too fast.

Gameplay
6

There isn't much to it, but Cubello is fun in small doses. It would be more fun if the block lineup wasn't so evil right at the end of each level.

Lastability
5

There are a few hours of entertainment here, if you enjoy the basic concept. Just don't expect to play it all at once.

Final
6

Cubello feels incomplete, or at least unpolished, but it still has value as a unique puzzle game designed specifically for the Wii pointer.

Summary

Pros
  • Fast pace
  • Interesting puzzles
Cons
  • Computer voice is overused
  • Some colors are nearly indistinguishable from one another
  • Spastic camera rotation
  • Too hard to finish a level
Review Page 2: Conclusion

Talkback

TanookisuitOctober 27, 2008

I love how this game keeps getting knocked for being too difficult.  I'm in love with this game.  I think the rotation of the shpe is part of the strategy, not a problem.  Also, I think the color choices are fantastic.  I'd give it a 9.

DAaaMan64October 27, 2008

Jon any thoughts on the new Art Style that came out today?

It's a port of DialHex, one of the Bit Generations titles.  I've never played the original, and it'll be a while before I can download the new version since my Wii is in for repairs.

CalibanOctober 27, 2008

I just watched the video from the Nintendo Channel for RotorHex. It looks a lot like Hexic on the XBox360.

Oh, and Cubello's great in my opinion. Not a detraction from Jonny's well written review.

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Genre Puzzle
Developer
Players1
Controllers

Worldwide Releases

na: Art Style: CUBELLO
Release Oct 13, 2008
PublisherNintendo
RatingEveryone
jpn: Art Style Series: CUBELEO
Release May 12, 2009
PublisherNintendo
RatingAll Ages
eu: Art Style: CUBELLO
Release Nov 21, 2008
PublisherNintendo
Rating3+

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