Back to the Cubeture: Era 1
So you say you're bored with "traditional" point-and-click adventures, and you want something different. Something a little... outside the box? Are you sure? If you can leave common sense behind for a while, then you just may be ready for Back to the Cubeture Era 1, a game from Edible Castle that takes "It can't possibly get any weirder than this" as a challenge.
Based on a series of flash cartoons, Back to the Cubeture is a shortish adventure that features our hero, Cuboy, the ultimate friend. How ultimate is he? He's so ultimate that when dastardly bad-guy type Esquire Padrino (gasp!) builds a time-warping device to destroy the world, he springs to the rescue! Only to wind up trapped back in the wild, wild west, where men are itchy and horses are square. Will Cuboy catch Padrino in time? Will he uncover the secrets of the desert? And more importantly, who's going to clean out all these spittoons?!
For the most part, Back to the Cubeture plays like a standard point-and-click, with you pointing at things on the screen, and clicking to make Cuboy move or interact with people and objects. You have access to Cuboy's inventory via the box in the upper-right corner of the screen, where you can review objectives, check out the items you've collected, or play dress up. Which, you know, we're glad to see, since dress up is sorely overlooked in most point-and-click games. If you get into a fight, you'll showdown wild west style... that is, waiting for the traffic light to flash DRAW so you can tap the [space] bar to shoot your foe before he shoots you. Draw too quickly, and you're a filthy cheater. But draw too late, and you'll have to try again, once you peel yourself off the bar.
While Back to the Cubeture sticks to the basics as far as mechanics go for the most part, the design is definitely one in a million. Not only are the characters and the environments bright and colourful, but the audio as a whole in the game is top notch. The voice acting is well done, particularly Padrino, and the soundtrack is catchy, and as gleefully cheesy as the rest of the game. Come to us, horse friend!
Analysis: If you've never watched the Cuboy cartoons, as I hadn't, then the Back to the Cubeture experience is more than a little disorienting at first. Not because it relies on you having a firsthand knowledge of a lengthy backstory, but because it's so ridiculous. And it's when the game is embracing that ridiculousness that it's at its best. While not every line is laugh-out-loud funny, occasionally relying on somewhat crass humour for cheap laughs, Cuboy hits more than he misses.
Of course, there are times when the game seems to overestimate its own cleverness. While the wild west stand-off idea is fun at first, having to repeat a reflex-based shoot-out over and over gets stale with the only real variation being speed. And speaking of speed, I'd like to have a word in memory of my poor, destroyed [space] bar with whomever decided button-mashing was a great idea to win a race. If that sounds like a threat, well, it's not. After all, I can hardly be expected to beat someone up right now, preoccupied as I am with my ruined index fingers from hammering the keys. While some people may not have problems with these things, for the rest of us, it's a prime example of a joke taken too far, and I hope the developers reconsider reusing these gimmicks for future installments.
But the whole game is just so joyously oddball that it's easy to get swept up in it. Its off-beat sense of humour may not appeal to everyone. But chances are that if anyone has ever accused you of being "weird" (and why are you all looking at me like that?), you'll find something to like about Back to the Cubeture.