By: David Tavernier
Cubetractor is a strategy tower defense game made by Ludochip, a two-man development team that – according to their website — creates “crunchy bite-sized games.” It would be hard to sum up Cubetractor with a better phrase. With a cheap price and a modest-sized campaign that has just the right challenge, Cubetractor is a game that is lightweight and cheap enough to fit right in your pocket.
In Cubetractor you play as Endroi, a blue robot with a good sense of humor that is being tested to evaluate his personal strength and ingenuity as a younger resident of the robot kingdom. As such you will have to face wave after wave of defensive challenges, which collectively amount to an overall enjoyable experience.
The controls in Cubetractor are very simple. Endroi can be moved around using the arrow keys while the “z” key pulls cubes and “x” cancels structures that you build by pulling these cubes. There is very little beyond this. The challenge of the game comes from pulling cubes at just the right time to create a turret or barrier at precisely the location that is desired. Cubetractor‘s simple controls function perfectly well in accomplishing this and should not be an obstacle to even the most inexperienced of gamers.
The graphics in Cubetractor mirror the 16-bit era. You should expect some nostalgia as you play if you grew up in the ’80s or early ’90s. I found myself thinking of SNES classics such as Secret of Mana, ActRaiser, and Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. Despite this, some of the character designs are charming and comical, and both the world itself and the levels you play all seem perfectly appropriate. So, even if the graphics are simplistic they are still well done for what they are.
Cubetractor‘s sound design is similarly retro with sound effects and music simple enough that they could easily be confused with an NES or SNES game. This being said, just like its graphics, Cubetractor‘s sounds and music are well done for what they are. The music is especially catchy in the menus, world map, and while playing each level. It’s nice to have something catchy to listen to while playing Cubetractor as it helps distract the player as they deal with each level’s challenging puzzles.
All this being said, although the graphics and sound are well done for what they are, they are not going to astound or amaze anyone. They are pleasant, but you shouldn’t expect them to impress you.
Cubetractor is fun and challenging… but not too challenging. It’s a tower defense strategy game where on each and every map you face a system of towers and barriers that must be destroyed by constructing your own towers from cubes lying around. There are yellow, purple and brown cubes that can be combined in unique ways to create different types of towers that can be used to destroy the enemy towers on each map.
For instance, smashing two brown cubes together creates a defensive barrier, two yellow cubes together creates an offensive turret, and two purple cubes form a turret that fires heat-seeking gobs of plasma. Yellow and brown cubes create a power plant that increases turret fire speed and so on.
Often there is a special trick to each map, and you’ll often have to think and think and make numerous mistakes in order to discover it, which then makes finishing each level much easier. After you discover it, though, the trick often seems like it should have been obvious to begin with. Conversely, there are some levels that have no simplifying trick and must be passed with sheer dexterity.
These levels require you to run about, creating turrets and barriers as fast as you can so that you can whittle down enemy defenses piece by piece. Often destroying one enemy tower alone can be enough to breach the enemy’s defenses. However, getting this first crucial kill can be quite challenging and may take several restarts to accomplish. In any case, due to the game’s challenge, making progress against the enemy defenses is always an enjoyable experience.
As the player moves through the game, level by level, they should become more adept at pulling blocks at just the right time. This will be required especially in the harder levels toward the end of the game, but once the player has mastered this timing even the final levels will be able to be completed without too much aggravation.
Cubetractor can be a considerable challenge. This makes the game fun, and it has lasting value in that every level can be perfected by earning a gold star. It took about 9 hours to beat the game while mostly acquiring silver stars on each level, but if you were to try to get a gold star on every level it could take you considerably more time. Cubetractor also has 13 achievements — some of which are very difficult to obtain — that give the game even more replay value.
Iif you like tower defense games that are challenging and don’t mind retro graphics and sound, the $9.99 price tag is appropriate, and you should feel satisfied with your purchase when the credits roll.