Five minutes into Cubes vs. Spheres, and I was already debating whether the review strapline should be “dicey” or “a load of balls”.
The game’s seemingly sluggish controls and one-note action had created a poor first impression.
Yet this curious mix of fast-paced action and tower-defence soon drew me in – that first play session ended up lasting for a good hour.
The latest from Shockpanda Games, maker of the disappointing Space Bunnies, has a very simple conceit. From a first-person perspective, you fight back against an army of self-propelled cubes, which are advancing inexorably toward you.Circle of strife
To defend yourself against these geometric invaders, you need to use your supply of spheres to destroy them before they reach your circular territory.
Tapping one of the icons across the bottom of the screen selects your sphere type. You can then adjust your aim by sliding your finger across the touchscreen and simply swipe through the ball to watch it wreak destruction upon your cuboid aggressors.
It seems incredibly shallow initially: the only ammunition available to you on the first stage is a blue sphere, which does very little bar destroying small cubes on contact.Hadouken!
Slowly, though, you’ll start unlocking new spheres with the points you’ve earned. The first new sphere, a fireball, has a much more explosive effect, and thereafter you’ll be keen to see just what the other types can do.
A larger, weightier model can demolish anything in its path, ploughing through multiple cubes in a single roll, while a homing sphere locks onto the closest cube to your territory.
Another spreads a patch of ice where it lands, instantly slowing down the advancing waves, while a decoy cube will attract any others within the vicinity, before exploding.
You can upgrade your standard weapon, so shots can be split into three and then five spheres with a mid-air tap.There goes the sphere
Ammo for this is unlimited, though your supply of the other types is anything but - you’ll need to spend your points wisely between stages to ensure you’re suitably armed for the coming onslaught.
In truth, however, you’ll end up with a surfeit of cash on the Easy and Normal stages, often rolling out the big guns towards the end of a stage simply because you can.
‘Perfecting’ each level gets easier, as you combine ammo types to earn huge combo scores by destroying multiple cubes in one throw.
The decoy cube alone can net you a pass – team it with ice and metal spheres and your edged opponents don’t stand a chance.Blocks that scatter
Reach the Hard level and the challenge ramps up noticeably – you’ll fight cubes in greater numbers and with more translucent ‘ghost’ types sneaking up on you.
That said, it’s possible to grind your way through easier levels for the points to buy a very solid defence.
Yet despite the relatively low difficulty level, there’s enough satisfaction to be found in high score chasing – not to mention the satisfyingly crunchy explosions – to make Cubes vs. Spheres an easy recommendation.