Over the years, there have been many attempts to push, prod and morph the match-3 game mechanic into different forms to create something magical, but many have failed. While the folks at Mobicle do a yeoman’s job trying to invent a different match-3 game with Cubetrix 3D, ultimately it falls a little short.
First of all, Cubetrix 3D takes a little getting used to. The set up is very different than anything you’ve seen in match three games before. You’ll find a brick of colorful 3D cubes (or varying amounts) with an outlying cube (that doesn’t seem to fit the pattern). Below the 3D cubes, there are three buttons on the screen. Two buttons on the left (with arrows) will move the extra cube on the outside either clockwise or counter-clockwise, and you have to determine which direction is the most beneficial to your matching goals.
Then there is a big button on the right. You use this button to “push” the row of cubes so that you line up three cubes in a row. The 3D cubes will explode when you get 3 of the same color lined up. Understanding which direction to move the extra block and anticipating the movement of the blocks is definitely not intuitive. It does get easier the more you play, but sometimes you just can’t catch the vision of what is going to happen.
The good news is you can experiment and make something happen fairly easily, most of the time. Sometimes I got stuck because I felt like I had matched three blocks of the same color but then I figured out that matching three blocks in the outside rows doesn’t count (a little frustrating). I also found myself having to play some levels over and over again to pass them because I just couldn’t get used to the game’s interpretation of “clockwise” and “counter-clockwise.” Like I said, it doesn’t feel intuitive because clockwise and counterclockwise don’t necessarily translate easily to a 3D environment. Still, I was able to progress on easy mode for quite a while.
There are three levels of difficulty (easy, medium, hard) and two play modes (arcade, puzzle), to try and several interesting elements to keep you guessing along the way. In “arcade” mode, each level is timed so you constantly feel a sense of urgency: you have a fixed amount of time to make as many moves as you want. If you want a little more time to think, then try “puzzle” mode where you have all the time you want, but only a certain number of moves. There are also bombs and bricks to keep things interesting.
Bombs will explode the board and mix up the color combinations so you essentially have to start over again. Bricks are immovable unless you manage to combine three cubes next to the brick, in which case it will explode with the matched triplet of cubes. And if lack of time or lack of moves wasn’t enough, in higher (and harder levels), some cubes are numbered. Your objective is to not only match three cubes with the same color but also with three numbers that are in the proper sequence, a difficult thing to do but very satisfying when you get those blocks to explode.
When the blocks line up, they blow up with some satisfying sound effects. In fact, the effects, 3D graphics, sound and music are all very nicely executed in Cubetrix 3D. One feature I particularly liked is the ability to play songs from my iTunes library while I was playing the game. The process took literally a few seconds and I was listening to some of my favorite tunes while I was playing Cubetrix 3D. I definitely appreciate the extra effort the developers made to integrate this feature, since so many game soundtracks get annoying that I turn them off and play in silence.
Overall, Cubetrix 3D brings some new twists to the match-3 genre, but not enough to say it’s a terrific game. It is a solid effort, and the game of game you might want to give a whirl – especially if the developers decide to put it on sale.