Reviewed May 2009 by Jamie Davies
From the moment you start playing Art Style: Cubello, there’s an odd feeling that washes over you. Maybe it’s the cold robotic voice that welcomes you from the Wii Menu or the way it chimes “Let’s play” in a monotone, emotionless voice.
Is it mocking you or inviting you?
Later on, regardless of whether you succeed in spectacular fashion or fail miserably, it both commends and chides you with a flat “Good game”. The whole thing just feels like an aptitude test for entrance into a certain `Aperture Science Enrichment Centre`.
Cubello’s deliberate cold and slightly clinical style belies what is an incredibly simple but frighteningly addictive title – the hallmark of the Art Style series. Each level consists of a core block which is surrounded by others of varying colours. Along the left hand side of the screen is a magazine chamber, arming the player with their own supply of coloured blocks which they can fire out using the Wii remote. The idea is to isolate the core block by removing all the others attached to it; a simple case of firing blocks to match up four of the same colour.
This large shape rotates, so shots have to be accurate to get them to strike where you want. There’s also the complication of the large block spinning in the direction it is hit, meaning there’s more tactical planning required than just laying down a volley of shots and hoping to strike it lucky.
It would be a rather sedate affair if it wasn’t for Cubello pouring on the pressure. Spend too much time waiting to take a shot and the chiming count down will end the game. Fire off too many shots without getting rid of any blocks and it’s also Game Over. Occasionally the blocks will regenerate, foxing you when you think victory is close at hand. Written down it sounds frustrating, but in practice this has actually been well thought out to make sure that the player can’t just sit and wait forever to take a shot. It adds that essential ingredient which, if it were missing, would make the game far less interesting and challenging. The fact that it doesn’t smack of just wanting to punish the player, rather to gently test them, makes it all the more evident that everything about Cubello has been well thought out and done deliberately.
Initially easy to get to grips with, the levels quickly progress to pull the rug from underneath the player and prevent complacency, with the block patterns become more and more elaborate in protecting the core as it spirals around the screen in twists and turns. There are also more and more colours thrown and various shades that, while never confusingly similar, are purposely designed to keep you on your toes.
Putting it all together you realise the mechanics and it’s austere appearance are all part of the charm. Cubello is one of those surprise titles that gets hold of you and, without realising, robs you of large chunks of your time in one of the most pleasurable ways possible.