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Cubic Ninja

Score: 70%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: AQ Interactive
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Cubic Ninja is one of those games that really tries to do something different with a system's capabilities, and while I applaud it for its interesting twist on gameplay, in the end, it doesn't have enough going for it to warrant a purchase at full price.

Cubic Ninja is all about... well, cubes. Everything from your heroes to the levels to the bosses are made of blocks that help to give the game an interesting feeling of depth, even if the levels are only a couple of CC's deep. By the way, CC is the name of your main character; he is the main guy and he is both a cube and a ninja, thus the title.

Oddly enough, while the game effectively uses the 3DS' tilt sensors, in it's default control setup, it doesn't actually use the 3D viewing capabilities of the system. That isn't to say that this game completely ignores that functionality. It just knows that, because of its control-style, it isn't best to turn that on. But more on that later.

Audio-wise, the game has some amusing music to back up the visuals, but in the end, both graphics and sound get pretty monotonous after a while, and considering the many levels Cubic Ninja will throw at you, this isn't a good thing.


Cubic Ninja uses the standard "princess in danger" setup to give you an excuse to go through the game's many puzzles. You play as CC, your basic ninja-cube that has surprisingly few moves to show off. Actually, besides four power-ups, all CC can do is slide around the level in the direction that you tilt your 3DS.

That's where the game's unique gameplay style comes in. Cubic Ninja touts itself as being a game you can play through without ever touching a button, and that is very much true. Much like some Marble Madness-styled games I've reviewed in the past, you indirectly control CC by tilting the level and letting him slide around. To make matters more interesting, you not only have the ability to slide back and forth across the level, but up and down and towards or away from the camera as well.

As a result, puzzles will have you making your handheld face in all kind of directions in order to get CC past the various traps and enemies you will find. Unfortunately, Cubic Ninja has some of the loosest controls I've seen in a long time. What should be simple tilts towards or away from you in order to slide him in the same axis as the camera end up having your 3DS almost completely face the floor or ceiling before he starts to slide. This is definitely an area that needs improvement if there is going to be a sequel.

As you might imagine, because of all of this tilting, there really isn't a way to keep you and your 3DS at that optimal distance and angle in order to maintain that iffy 3D experience, and that's why the developers decided to turn off that particular feature. It's a bit of a disappointment, but it's understandable.

They did give gamers a second control option though, and while this is turned on, the 3D viewing is also enabled. This other mode lets you use the Circle Pad to tilt the level instead of moving your 3DS around. While this mode definitely takes care of some of that loose-control feeling, it also doesn't feel quite right as far as seeing the level tilt and watching CC go sliding. <>p Unfortunately, that isn't the biggest problem with this control setup. While I was easily able to tilt the level left, right, up and down, I could not figure out how to make the level tilt forward and backwards to make CC slide closer or further away from the camera. I tried every other button on the system and I got nothing. I looked through the manual and the most I got was a picture labeling each of the buttons. So, while the controls are more crisp with the Circle Pad and 3D is enabled, there is no way you can actually complete more than the most basic levels the game has to offer. At least, no way I could figure out.


Cubic Ninja is a jumbled mix of fairly easy-to-solve levels and ridiculously hard ones that require perfect timing, plus the occasional boss battle thrown in for good measure. Of course, one of the biggest problems that cause those hard ones to be so problematic is the aforementioned loose controls. When you have to time your slides to hit buttons and then maneuver over to a wall that will reappear quickly, the lag in your character's slide and the imprecise nature of that sliding character really become a hindrance.

One of the issues that seems to make Cubic Ninja more annoying than it should be is the fact that the game doesn't seem to slowly build up to the more difficult puzzles. Sure, you start off simple as the game teaches you how to play, but it isn't long before you get a mish-mash of easy and tough puzzles thrown in all willy-nilly like. A more thought out level progression could save a lot of overall frustration.

Game Mechanics:

Cubic Ninja does have a mode that makes this game very intriguing and almost worth the full price of admission, and that's the Level Creator. Once you get your head around just how to bring your levels to life, you can create some interesting puzzles with pieces you unlock by going through the game's story. What's best is that you can then share these levels with other game owners via a QR code. While the likelihood of you knowing another person with Cubic Ninja might not be all that great, I can definitely see a niche online community of modders building around Cubic Ninja.

In the end though, Cubic Ninja is a fun experience to play for a little while, but isn't really worth the purchase. If you are a level modder though, then you might want to try the game out and see if it's Level Creator mode can offer you a bit more fun than the rest of the game.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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