A 3DS puzzle game with a cube-shaped ninja.
A cute little black box called CC is the adorable ninja hero in Cubic ninja, developed by Ubisoft for the Nintendo 3DS. This charming ninja box is on a mission to save the beautiful princess who rules his country from some fierce and loathsome bandits. Once CC had been made aware of the devastating news of his Princesses abduction, he takes on the assignment of searching for their secret hideaway. Little CC must rescue the princess or his tiny brave heart will suffer complete heartbreak.
The aim of this game is to get CC through 107 levels to save just one princess. The game uses the Nintendo 3DS gyroscope to take control of the main character. Along the way, you encounter various obstacles and enemies that will try and prevent you making progress. Progressing through the game is a challenging experience as players have to tilt the Nintendo 3DS towards the direction they wish to travel. The controls allows you to move CC left, right, up, down and towards the screen by simply tilting the 3DS in the direction required. For example, to move up the screen, the player will need to tilt the 3DS screen away from them. There is the option of using the circle pad to guide CC around, but the game is designed to be played using the gyroscope and I felt using this seemed more appropriate.
As you make your way through the levels, in which CC finds himself trying to avoid heavy wrecking balls and sharp, pointy spikes, it’s safe to assume that the game is going to become difficult. Everything in this game is based on balance, timing and spacial awareness. CC must use his ninjutsu skills to discover a selection of scrolls. These scrolls give your ninja special abilities such as becoming very tiny to fit through awkward spaces or shooting ninja stars in all directions. Finding the scrolls isn’t a problem, the only thing against you, apart from gravity, is the fact that you’re on a time limit, so actually reaching the scrolls before time runs out adds pressure. Some are easily accessible, while others have been placed in precarious positions that will take both time and skill to reach. CC will also need to activate many switches throughout the levels in order to reach the exit. As you progress you’ll unlock different characters with different skills, but the core gameplay remains the same throughout.
Initially when you first play the game, you’re be impressed that the game can use the dynamics of the gyroscope so well, but gradually you soon realize that your ninja can’t always move and travel in the direction you want him to in the quickest time. This is a real shame as I had seriously high hopes for this game. The game will have you twisting and turning in every direction, going backwards, forwards and basically sending you up the wall. It all begins like a novelty, but that soon wears off due to the extreme degree of movement in which your cubic ninja has to maneuver. The 3D is, understandably I think, turned off by default during the gameplay. This was a wise move as moving the handheld around as much as is required in this game would have resulted in a complete shambles.
Once you’ve made it through the 100 levels, you can choose time attack, survival and a basic level creator. The level creator allows players to construct some basic designs, but this seems a little of a letdown as you can’t share levels with friends. Most of the levels are too clean and clinical, making you feel like it’s a cold and barren environment. Ubisoft have created such a cute and charming character which you instantly adore, but unfortunately the environments didn’t feel as loved with little colour to give you that warm and fuzzy feeling inside. At the end of each level you’ll be confronted by some challenging bosses, such as a canine robot who wants to eat you, or a bird who will blast out swirling tornadoes straight at you. These bosses are very difficult to defeat, partly by design and partly due to the controls.
Although the idea behind Cubic Ninja is a great one, it’s not taken advantage of using a StreetPass or Spotpass feature which I thought would be beneficial to this game. While the game may begin cute, it cries out frustration and soon becomes increasingly annoying. The motion control is a neat gimmick that starts out being fun, but quickly descends into irritation as the player finds themselves contorting into all manner of uncomfortable positions just to reach the exit.
Cubic Ninja has some truly inspiring levels and makes a good attempt at being a cute and charming puzzle game for 3DS. But the game falls short due to the overall clinical feel and the controls which make you feel you should be playing it standing on your head.