March 26, 2012

So… After a miracle with PayPal and some other things, I managed to get ahold of QUBE for the PC. (LEGALLY)

QUBE is a first-person puzzle game where you use… cubes. ^^’  Left-click retracts them and right-click extends the cubes. Cubes of different colors do different things- Blue cubes launch you when retracted and you touch them, yellow cubes extend in varying patterns depending on where you click on them, and red blocks just extend in whatever direction it’s facing. There are other blocks, but those three are the fundamentals.

Using these colored blocks, you have to navigate through a series of puzzles and mazes with no explanation outside of trial and error.

The gameplay is solid if you’re used to shooters, but you’re screwed otherwise. The graphics are amazing- it runs on the unreal engine, but there are the eventual black blocks from objects not rendering and a few other minor issues that are negligible.

The difficulty: steadily increases as it is supposed to for a puzzle game. It is incredibly fun to catch on and the variety of puzzles throughout makes it hard to give up. I had to finish the game in a single sitting- or at least I tried. The game is incessantly glitchy to a point where correct puzzle solutions don’t work. I actually had a little robot that isn’t supposed to stop moving stop on a retracted blue block that was supposed to launch it. The physics-based portion of the unreal engine often messes up puzzles beyond repair- at one point blocks moved away from magnets, out of their reach, and I couldn’t fix it. I had to reload the level multiple times to do it. That aside- The game is amazingly rewarding and fun. If it weren’t for the glitches, I daresay it would be amongst my favorite games, but the glitches sorta’ ruined it. And the game itself is short- having only a very minor story that is only made apparent at the end of a few quick puzzles.

It is very visually appealing though- as you can see from the pic above. There is no HUD, except for the gloves that you can see when you hover over blocks, which made it look so much more appealing and unhindered.


Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed QUBE and would play it again, were it not for the glitches. I applaud the indie team who made this game! I hope they manage to fix it.


Judging Criteria

March 19, 2012

First person puzzle games have become increasingly popular recently. Older elder scrolls games had some puzzles and the first Half-life game featured a fair bit of puzzles, but the genre never really rocketed until Valve released Portal, then more puzzle games were released emphasizing the first-person puzzle aspect following portal’s example. With this newly popularized genre, how do you judge which games are better than which?

  1. Reward. Progressing through the show should feel rewarding without being too much so. Especially in puzzle games, there must be some reason for wanting to continue.
  2. Difficulty. The puzzles should be realistically difficult to where they can be completed with enough focus and should progressively become more difficult. This can also add to the sense of reward
  3. Mechanics. This is a definite. Having some confusing rules that work when you grow accustomed to them could make or break a puzzle game.
  4. Dynamics. How the player interacts with the world is largely important in puzzles. Having multiple possible solutions to a single puzzle can make it far more fun.
  5. Graphics. They are first-person, which generally means 3D. Graphic quality can also contribute to clarity of the puzzles and the inevitable feeling of reward afterward.

Those, in my opinion, are the top five qualities to a first-person puzzle game, in order from greatest to least. What do you think?


March 5, 2012

What’s happening to all of the arcades? Why are they diminishing? Are consoles to blame?

Yeah, yeah. Consoles are stealing from arcades simply because of price. You make one payment for a console game and get it forever. Arcade games require constant repeated payments throughout.

That aside- this past Tuesday I went to Dave n’ Busters with our composition class and saw a ton of awesome arcade games you couldn’t experience on a console. At least not to that extent. One such game was a combination of a flight simulator / dog fight / tank game in which you took a suspended helmet and rotated it to aim as you fend off enemy troops or battle other air-borne enemies. Another game was the popular Monkey Ball we all recognize from various consoles, but this one had an actual ball as a controller! You rotate the ball to navigate through the zig-zagging obstacles of the monkey-ball world. The faster you spin the ball, the more you accelerate! It was amazingly addicting.

Then, there were some touch-screen games that you could purchase for a tablet or other device, but because they were on massive touch-screens, the experience was considerably better. And the fact that you got tickets towards prizes for playing them! Ugh! So much fun stuff. I should never have gone, because now I’m tempted to return! It’s ad that true arcades are dying out, though. I know where they’re going, I think. My friend invited me to go to a console-hub with her this coming weekend. It’s like an arcade, but instead of the massive machines we’re accustomed to, it hosts well-known consoles locked behind glass cases with dozens of popular games up for play. The hub has an entrance fee, and a per-game fee that you pay to swap out games, but aside from that it doesn’t cost that much. I’m actually looking forward to going.