Lyle in Cube Sector
My name is Lyle. Unfortunately I can't tell you my last name; video game heroes usually have one-word names, and I'm no exception. Also like most video game heroes I can jump several times my height, my head is larger than my torso (heck, my eyes are larger than my torso), and my health is determined not by X-rays or by blood pressure, but by a simple display at the edge of the screen
I live in a small shack in the middle of Cube Sector, a realm populated by all sorts of nasty monsters. And yes, there are lots and lots of cubes around: durable green cubes, explosive red cubes, double-size orange cubes, and so on. In fact, I've got a green cube right in my front yard. My only living companion is a kitten by the name of Keddums. Seriously! Just look in the readme file if you don't believe it.
Last night when I was asleep a hooded figure sneaked in and made off with Keddums. Needless to say I'm not going to stand for that; the fewer friends you have, the more attached you grow to them, and Keddums is my only friend. So I set off on an adventure to claim back my cat.
It's not easy, of course. When I first leave my house I'm completely defenseless; I can't even jump on enemies like that plumber can. I have to find upgrades that improve my abilities, and they're all cube-centric. Throughout the game I'll learn to pick up and throw cubes, kick them around, double-jump with them, and even create my own out of thin air. I'll use cubes for everything from attacking enemies to playing basketball to feeding a dog. I can also find blue HP Orbs that improve my maximum stamina, as well as red CP Orbs... rumor has it that you can trade those in somewhere for new upgrades...
Analysis: Lyle in Cube Sector is a relatively old game, and it turned up in an old Weekend Download; the second one ever, to be more precise. Someone commented on it saying that it deserved a full review, and after playing it I have no choice but to agree. Normally it's only downloadable for Windows, but with CrossOver Games that's not an issue, it ran perfectly fine on my Mac.
Metroid-esque. I don't know if anyone's ever used that word before, but it's the perfect word to describe this game. And I'm not just talking about the gameplay. The graphics and audio both seem to have come straight from the NES with their simplistic pixelly goodness, and the tall climbable shafts and long runnable pathways bring back Metroid memories as well. The whole thing is so Metroidesque I kept expecting to find a Morph Ball (Morph Cube, perhaps?) power-up somewhere.
I played the original Metroid once. It quickly repulsed me because its environment was too large to be explored with any efficiency, especially without guidance, and I kept feeling lost. Lyle in Cube Sector doesn't have that flaw; its map feels much more easily explored, and I never felt lost. I think it helped that this game had a "warp room" that allowed speedy transportation to handy locations. The lighthearted sense of humor LiCS bore, especially near the end, might have helped as well. So perhaps this game is better than that one.
It's not perfect, of course. One inherent flaw with Metroid-esque games is that with no indication of what to do next, you can run around aimlessly without a clue and be unable to find your next step. I did run into a moment like that near the end. Also, the "game over" sequence in this game is a bit too long and non-skippable, especially considering how many times I saw it. To boot, there's nothing more frustrating than accidentally hurting yourself with your own cube, which feels all too easy. I know Samus never accidentally shot herself with a Missile.
But overall, this game is worth a download. It has plenty to find (I'm still missing one CP orb, and I've heard of a secret room somewhere...), and it should keep you occupied for a while. The likelihood of a sequel is slim, but we can hope...
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a cat-napper to cube.
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