Last summer I reviewed Rubik’s World for both the Wii
. Both games had the right idea but lacked something in execution. They were a little too obtuse to get into, and for a puzzle game that’s a serious issue. The presentation was also a bit spartan, leading to an stale experience on both platforms. Well, Game Factory and Two Tribes have given it another go. Instead of two retail releases, their latest Rubik’s game is a downloadable title for WiiWare. Rubik’s Puzzle Galaxy: Rush is the first in a series of WiiWare games based on the ubiquitous cube puzzle.
As a downloadable title, Rush doesn’t have all of the extraneous modes and features that were included in Rubik’s World. This may seem like a detriment at first, but things like the music composition, painting and multiplayer minigames weren’t that important to Rubik’s World anyway. Stripping away the extra content let Two Tribes really focus on what matters: the core puzzle gameplay.
The puzzles themselves are almost identical to the ones in Rubik’s World. You’re given a creatively shaped playing field with a number of cube spawn points. Your goal is simple: guide the cubes to exit points by placing tiles that influence the cubes’ direction, speed and other behaviors. As long as the cubes don’t fall off the edges or collide with one another, you’re good. The gameplay is reminiscent of the Dreamcast classic Chu Chu Rocket, which gave me a nice sense of nostalgia.
The basic idea might be simple but the hallmark of any good puzzle game is mounting complexity. Each playing field is a different shape and has a unique arrangement of spawn points and often multiple levels. What’s more, you’re given a limited number and selection of tiles for each puzzle.
These concepts were all present in Rubik’s World but the focus and polish in Rush really improves the whole game. The instructions are a lot clearer, and with only one basic puzzle type to memorize it’s a lot easier to concentrate on figuring it out. The way Rush is structured is also much more user friendly. Instead of outright failing a puzzle and having to retry from the main menu, you can restart any puzzle at any time with a simple button push, which makes the inherent trial and error easier to deal with. This time the puzzles have a sense of experimentation and adjustment, instead of the irritating pass/fail feeling from Rubik’s World.
The sharp difficulty curve in Rubik’s World has been smoothed out as well. Puzzle difficulty is now divided into easy, medium and hard tiers which you unlock as you progress, so you won’t hit a ridiculously hard puzzle early on. The game’s much slicker, more professional production values make the whole experience far more pleasant and easy to navigate. The vibrant colors, smooth animations and transitions, and playful music and sound effects are a huge improvement over the flat look and feel of Rubik’s World.
Of course, what Rubik’s game would be complete without a version of the original puzzle? Like its two predecessors, Rush includes a virtual Rubik’s Cube. Thankfully, for the puzzle impaired (*ahem* me) there’s a pretty robust tutorial that runs you through the steps of solving the classic brain buster. In practice this virtual cube is kind of unwieldy, like the ones in Rubik’s World, but working a real cube in your hands will always be more satisfying than twisting one with a Wii remote.
It’s still a nice feature, and it would feel flat wrong if the classic cube wasn’t included. My unique method of unscrewing the center of the cube and putting the pieces back in order isn’t available in Rush, but it’s probably for the better. If you think you’re hot stuff and can rotate colored blocks with the best of them, you can even upload your best times to online leaderboards.
Although it actually offers less in terms of variety than the previous Rubik’s World titles, Rubik’s Puzzle Galaxy Rush is a much more enjoyable experience. The puzzle gameplay is lean, intuitive and challenging, and this time around it’s sleeker and a lot better looking. At a mere $6, Rush is a great value and an excellent addition to the WiiWare catalog. Puzzle fans everywhere should pick it up.