When I first saw the trailer for Cubemen 2, it really caught my interest. Developed by 3 Sprockets and brought to the Wii U by Nnooo, who have released other Nintendo-related software before, Cubemen 2 was arguably the biggest game that the studio has brought over to a Nintendo platform. With the Wii U eShop having a solid library of tower-defense games already, does Cubemen 2 manage to stand out or fall into obscurity?
Cubemen 2 is an interesting tower-defense game. After a brief tutorial learning the game mechanics, you are thrown into the game by selecting a map choice and game type. The single-player is more of a training experience for the online multiplayer. There’s no unnecessary story or single-player campaign; it’s just strictly the game. I enjoy this feature, as a story would have just diluted the experience. The game offers several pre-loaded maps that ease you into the different types of game modes that you will be using online and offline.
The game offers a total of seven game modes, two of which are online only, which you will use to hone your skills against up to five other players or AI. Defense and Rescue are the two single-player only modes. Defense has you defending your base from enemy waves while Rescue has you defending cubemen trying to make it to your base safely. The modes that can be used online are Skirmish, Capture the Flag, Territory, King of the Hill, and Defector. Skirmish has you protecting your base while sending out troops to overtake other bases; Capture the Flag is exactly what it sounds like; Territory has you sending out troops and each block they walk on turns the color of your team and you try to have the most blocks colored; King of the Hill has you capturing and holding positions for points; and finally, Defector has you killing enemies who then defect to your team.
If it sounds like there are a lot of different modes, that’s because there is. Although aesthetically and in the first few minutes, all of the modes feel the similar, they eventually start to fit into their own and you must make tactical moves to win the match. Initially, you will probably struggle a bit on each mode, even against the computer on Novice, but after a few matches and gaining an understanding of what needs to be done, I was having a blast.
Cubes are the life force of this game. When a match starts out, you have your base and a set number of cubes. Depending on the mode will depend on how many you start out with, but the basic premise is the same: create your troops. There are a great variety to choose from — from the simple gunner type to the deadly sniper to a flame throwing mad-cube! Players earn more cubes by killing enemies. The closer you kill an enemy cubeman to their base, the more cubes you get, which then allow you to build more cubemen. Cubemen aren\’t limited to just fighters, as some will be used as mines or characters who can blast through walls making your target area easier to enter.
Since the game is rather in-depth, a control scheme could really make or break the game. Luckily, the control scheme is very well done. The Wii U GamePad is perfect for tower-defense games and I feel that Cubemen 2 really sets a new standard in this. Tapping your troops and sending them to select areas works flawlessly and there are multiple ways to use your camera. You can either use the right analog stick to move the camera or slide your stylus across the touch screen to check out other areas of the map. The left analog stick works to rotate the camera to get the best camera angle and the D-Pad serves to zoom in on all the cube action. There is a small learning curve, but once you practice for a few matches, it just feels fantastic.
The game has simple, bright, and colorful graphics. It is always easy to distinguish between your team and your opponent’s team, and some of the weapon effects are neat to see. Everything has a cube style to it, from the characters to the maps themselves, which really fits the theme of the game. The sound effects are adequate and there are a few catchy songs during the level, but over all, it’s not a selling point of the game. I did really enjoy the main theme of the game, however.
The best part is the insane amount of customization that you can do. There are tons of available skins for your cubemen to use in both single and online multiplayer, ranging from ninjas to clowns to skeletons. There are also a ton of map themes as well, which can be switched out on the fly before the match. For example, if you choose a level with a city theme but want to change it to an Egyptian one, the level will be laid out the same just with a different coat of paint. You can also customize game modes by selecting how many bots vs. humans you want, how many kills are needed, and much more.
Customization takes another huge jump with the level editor. Building a level from scratch can be a daunting task, but the level editor eases you into it and makes it a user-friendly experience. My favorite part is the sheer amount of creative levels, since you can easily access user-created ones and import them into your game. You can play these levels online or offline and they are arranges by Most Popular, Most Recent, and Random, so you can always download a good variety of level choices. For people who are looking for the elusive Minecraft to come to the Wii U, the level editor in Cubemen 2 is a great substitute, as you can be really creative in it.
While playing online, it’s pretty much lag-free and this is the first game to support cross-platform play. Wii U gamers can battle against PC, Mac, Linux, and Android players online, and it’s a ton of fun. Matches can last from minutes to closer to an hour and I never found myself getting bored but just becoming attached more to the game and trying to dominate the other teams. Everything is mostly perfect, but there are a few minor issues, some of which aren\’t necessarily the game’s fault.
The game could have used a few more tutorial missions to help younger players ease into the game, as some of the different modes may confuse them. The interface is great, but with so much going on, it would have been nice to highlight several cubemen and move them to a specific location at once instead of having to select them one by one. I understand why you can\’t, because each cubeman needs a specific square to step on, but it really would have helped at times to just put them in a general area as a group. Also, there is no Wiimote and Nunchuck controller option, which Pikmin fans would have enjoyed.
My biggest gripe with the game, though, is there aren\’t enough people online. That’s not the fault of the developer; that’s the fault of the consumer. More Wii U owners really need to pick this game up, as it is easily the best tower-defense game on the Wii U. With tons of customization, tons of game modes, and excellent game play mechanics, Cubemen 2 should be on your Wii U, as it really is an impressive amount of content and feels really well done. The icing on the cake? The game only costs a modest $7.99. If you have ever had any sort of interest in a tower-defense game, do yourself a favor and pick up Cubemen 2!