Version Reviewed: v1.0
Requires iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad running iOS 3.1.3 or later
If we were to base how much we liked something on presentation alone, The Cube is a complete winner, in the main. The look is absolutely perfect, and it also features much of the music from the show and even features the voice of Colin McFarlane off of The Fast Show doing his cube-y thing. These things you all notice when you first load the app up.
You can practice all the games at the standard setting if you want – there are 14 all from the show to choose from but what you’re most likely to do is go straight into the Challenge mode where you’re just seven steps away from £250,000 fake pounds. Very exciting! You can pick one of four empty profiles to save your progress with.
On my first game I got Stopzone, the game where a wave of blue runs across the floor and turns invisible, the object being to press the button when you think it’s between two lines. Tilting your machine tilts your angle of viewpoint – this actually looks very good, if the idea is to try and be realistic as possible then, well, it succeeds. Unfortunately there’s no way to find an angle to get a really good view for what you need to do, and regrettably the feeling that “this is sort of good, but it’s not quite right” permeates through most of the games.
The biggest problem is trying to recreate tangibility in a virtual environment. Several of the games involve throwing and flicking balls – not too awful in Revolution (revolve on the spot and try and throw the ball into a bucket) where you’ve just got to concentrate on angle and timing, but fairly poor in something like Cylinder (try and bounce a ball into a cylinder) – in real life you can feel a ball and immediately have some idea as to what it will do when you try and do something with it. Here in the virtual Cube you’re basically having to guess blind a lot of the time as to what it will do – the bounce action (flick the screen in a downward motion) is certainly not intuitive.
One game, Precision, has you try and flick a ball into a box of water. This appears to be pretty impossible. But don’t just take my word for it – the game collects anonymous statistical data from people who use it and feeds the averages into the game information (which is a really nice touch) and it appears that on average at the time of writing it’s taking over 30 attempts per success. Not great.
Other games are nice ideas that you just wish they thought about the implementation for – Focus (try and remember where a square light flashes on the floor, then after some brief interference try and place a cube in that last place) suffers because the walking and viewpoint implementation makes it quite difficult to judge your relative position in The Cube. Which is a shame given that it’s a game based around judging relative position. Again, your lack of virtual sense just makes it frustating to play. Would it not have been better to lock the viewpoint, ignore the wandering around and just have the player place a cube down on the touch screen?
The games apparently get harder as the prizemoney increases, although this isn’t tangibly obvious – in a game like Reaction (hit the button when the floor turns red. Quickly.) It will tell you what the target is. In Time Freeze (Try and stop a watch on ten seconds exactly – much harder than it sounds if you’ve got the off-rhythm music up) it doesn’t bother telling you the margin for error. And that’s quite spectacularly silly, and also a shame considering it’s one of the better working games.
You have a Trial Run and a Simplify just like off the telly, but despite having profiles you can’t “walk away” with any cash (returning to the menu at any point just saves the game, along with your Star Rating), and how the game is simplified in most cases isn’t revealed.
It’s not all doom and gloom, some games work very well (although it is probably quite telling that they’re the ones that don’t really use the technology to the fullest) – Reaction and Time Freeze are fine if uninspiring. Quantity (count the squares on the floor) is probably the most successful use of the 3D space. Balance and Stabilise are the best uses of the tilt sensor (they’re basically the same game except one has you also pushing buttons to replicate stepping. You will look ridiculous).
In conclusion then, it’s very difficult not to feel a bit disappointed by The Cube really. For all its initial presentation greatness (you soon discover the theme isn’t there, Philip Schofield isn’t there, The Body isn’t there and The Cube only really announces the names of the games) it largely controls quite poorly, and whilst the 3D Cube work is to be applauded, I can’t help but feel that more work needed to go into making the games properly intuitive. It needed to concentrate less on looking the part and instead make the games fit the medium better.