The endless runner is a genre that doesn't seem to be going anywhere. This may be an updated iteration of 2013's 3DS debut Cubit title but was it a game worth the upgrade to Wii U?
Cubit is played by tapping a button to make a perpetually running robot jump. It's really that simple. As he runs along, many hazards will try and end his existence. Therefore, trying to stay on the randomly placed suspended platforms so you don't fall into the abyss below isn't your only task at hand. You'll come across plenty of one hit kill obstacles that may slide up and down to the beat as well as mines that simply sit there waiting for you to trip over them. You'll even come across platforms that disappear after a while. When you add all of this up, you're left with a basic gameplay premise that'll keep you on your toes for every second of gameplay. It's challenging and easy to pick up and play but the difficulty may feel a bit too unfair at times. I'll get more into that in a bit. For now, let's admire the sights and sounds of Cubit HD.
Cubit himself is a super-charming robot who seems to always have a big smile on his cute little face. When you combine such an adorable character with the colourful environments, you're left with one delightful-looking game. The music is pretty good, too. It sounds like early '90s techno but the melodies change whenever you work your way to a new stage which makes for quite a varied and interesting soundtrack. In the end, Cubit HD looks cheerful and vibrant and sounds like an old-school rave which results in an enjoyable blend.
Unfortunately, Cubit HD is an undeniably frustrating experience. The challenge relies far too heavily on unforgiving situations that more often than not require the utmost precision. On top of this, the only way you'll be able to beat most of the stages is to memorize their layouts by heart. You never know when a hazard will descend to end your life or where you'll have to take a leap of faith which turns this otherwise simple and cheerful game into a nightmare full of repetition and tedium.
Another huge problem is when you get snagged on a ledge. Cubit is capable of double-jumping. In most platformers with this ability, you can jump in mid-air underneath a platform ahead of you in order to land on it and avoid falling to your death. Here, if just one pixel of Cubit gets snagged on the corner of a platform, he stops dead in his tracks. You can then double-jump but he will just jump straight into the air and fall to his demise. It's super-irritating, unfair, and goes against basic video game logic.
Finally, there sure isn't much to do in Cubit HD. If you can make it through each of the 6 stages in the branching campaign then you'll unlock Hardcore mode which simply restricts Cubit's amount of lives. There is also a challenge checklist that you can try to fill out as you play. Lastly, you can play with a friend by sharing a controller. Doing so feels awkward and considering the two robots that you control are simply offset a bit, it merely involves tapping a button a little after your partner does. They needn't have bothered.
Cubit HD's cheerful sights and groovy tunes fail to make up for its frustrating and bare-bones gameplay. Although you may get a few minutes of fun out of it, you'll be better off taking your change to an arcade.
- + Simple yet challenging gameplay
- + Delightful visuals and nifty soundtrack that changes for each stage
- - Relies far too heavily on memorization / getting snagged is a huge problem
- - Not much content to work through
- - Multiplayer ultimately falls flat