They're coming from all sides.
Cubemen 2 is not a particularly self-descriptive game. The cover art in the Wii U eShop doesn’t really say much about the game. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if most gamers skip over it without a second glance. This would be a mistake; Cubemen 2 is one of the best Wii U-exclusive eShop games. Although it might best be described as a tower defense game, being able to control individual units, as well as modes such as King of the Hill and Territory, make this a fleshed out real-time strategy experience.
It’s immediately easy to be impressed with the breadth of options in Cubemen 2. The game offers nearly every flavor of RTS available in both single and online multiplayer fashion. In addition, the game allows you to create and share your own levels, play online with players on other platforms (iOS, for example), and reskin the visuals in dozens of different ways. If you’re a fan of the genre, there’s something for you in Cubemen 2.There are two small “campaigns” (really just pre-defined sets of 15 stages each) and unlimited ways to play single games, either online or off.
The controls make the grade, with the stylus used to manipulate units on screen and rotate the camera in conjunction with the analog stick and shoulder buttons. After awhile, though, your wrists might get tired of supporting the GamePad with one hand (see also: Kid Icarus Uprising), and resting the GamePad on your knee is tricky because of the placement of the shoulder buttons.
So if the game is endlessly configurable, and mostly plays just fine, what’s the problem? Well, for one, the online community is a bit sparse. When the game launched, I was able to find players to join me (the same player kept stopping in), but by the end of the weekend, the available number of online players was very low. This game is going to be much more fun as a multiplayer experience, so player availability is a concern.
Secondly, the action can be very hectic, and because your screen is so small, the stylus control is imprecise without constant zooming in and out. The scheme works most of the time, but it’s easy to become flustered when the action picks up.
Probably the biggest problem with the game is simply that your eyes are confined to the GamePad, meaning that your TV is essentially useless. This gives the game a real “made for iPad” feel to it. This may be a personal preference, but while I love Off-TV play, the real highlight of Wii U is being able to seamlessly switch back and forth.
Still, these are fairly minor quibbles. Cubemen 2 is a competent real-time strategy tower defense game. It’s not terribly exciting, but it is probably the best in the genre on Nintendo platforms.