You, Me, & the Cubes is a quirky, upcoming WiiWare game that's equal parts puzzle and strategy game. Released earlier this year in Japan, the game is set to hit the States soon, so Nintendo had us over for a look at the localized version of the game. While puzzle games are a fairly common thing on the Wii, You, Me, & the Cubes has some pedigree going for it: The game is developed by Japanese studio Fyto and headed up by veteran developer Kenji Eno. The game marks the eccentric, artistic creator's reentry into game development after nearly a decade and a marked departure from the kind of work for which he was known. We tooled around with the addictive and fun game in Nintendo's Bay Area office and are happy to report Eno's still got some surprises to share.
You, Me, & the Cubes is a puzzle game that revolves around placing people, called Fallos, onto different sides of a cube. You'll use the Wii Remote to aim a cursor at the cube face and then fling Fallos, two at a time, onto the cube. The main twist is that the cube will tilt in relation to the weight of the Fallos, so you'll have to be careful when you place them. The first few cubes we tried were pretty simple and required us to place a certain number of Fallos on a cube face before the time ran out. Once you've completed the objective, the cube will rotate to let you place Fallos on another face. What's tricky is that even once you've completed a side of the cube, your Fallos can still fall off if they haven't sat down before the rotation. If you lose Fallos in a rotation, they won't be counted in the final tally. While things start out mellow enough, the game quickly becomes a pretty fun kind of stressful because you'll have to deal with multiple cube configurations and hazards in the form of different cube types, as well as enemies that will appear to knock your carefully placed Fallos off the cube. How many hazards crop up is due, in part, to your performance. Enemies called Shades are created when you lose Fallos before a rotation. The shadowy enemies are a hefty bunch and threaten to bump your Fallos off the cube. Thankfully, you'll be able to knock them off by targeting them with your onscreen cursor and tossing Fallos at them. Other hazards are environmental and will take the form of smaller cube types that will appear in the larger cube on which you've placed Fallos. Some will help you stabilize your cube if it's wobbling, but others will be more disruptive.
One of the best parts of our time with You, Me, & the Cubes was the game's co-operative play. The mode takes the simple premise and forces you to work closely with your partner by rewarding coordination. Each player will be able to throw one Fallo, which means players will have to coordinate with each other when placing and trying to take out Shades. The action gets fun and surprisingly rewarding with two people, which was nice to see.
Control in the game is a breeze. You'll use the remote to move your onscreen cursor to where you want to throw your Fallo. The A button will lock your cursor on your spot, and a flick of your remote will fling your Fallo. Once you're done, you'll shake your remote to prep another Fallo and repeat. When you're trying to stop Shades, you'll target them with the remote, hit A to immobilize them, and throw a Fallo. When playing with a friend, you'll get an onscreen prompt that lets you know you are in sync for throwing, which helps with coordinating. It's a simple system that lets you focus your attention on the puzzles as opposed to the controls, which helps to keep things fun.
In keeping with the game's simple gameplay, You, Me, & the Cubes has a simple presentation with a lot of subtle touches that give it some depth. The Fallos and the cube are laid out cleanly with a muted color palette. The effects on the different cubes and the color schemes on the Shades, along with the other characters that pop up in the game, are muted but distinctive, making it easy to distinguish the Shades and see that trouble is coming. The audio in the game is subtle but has flourishes to get your attention, such as the shrieks from the Fallos as they fall off the cube during rotation, that help make the experience unique.
Based on what we played, You, me & the Cubes is an addictive and interesting puzzle game. There appears to be a good amount of challenge to the various cube configurations, and there's plenty of fun to be had playing with a friend. If you're looking for a fun change of pace, you'll want to keep an eye out for You, Me, & the Cubes when it hits the Wii this coming Monday.