Title: Cubis 2
Compatible: iPod 5G
FreshGames Cubis 2
The iPod has no shortage of block and tile games, and FreshGames' Cubis 2 ($5) is part of the collection. PopCap Games' Bejeweled gave you an 8 by 8 grid full of gems stacked one layer deep; Cubis 2 gives you a 7 by 7 grid, partially filled with cubes that can be stacked three layers deep. You control a light beam cursor that scrolls on two sides of the board (west and south), adding additional cubes one at a time in an attempt to make matches of three or more same-colored blocks. If you create a chain and set off another chain, you get more points. Sound familiar?
Well, it’s not totally the same, thanks in part to Cubis 2’s isometric 3-D presentation - its grid is on a forced 45 degree angle that lets you see the stacked height of the cubes, and here you’re adding blocks one by one rather than rearranging them. There are also star cubes - ones you’re penalized for not removing - plus two-colored cubes, and seven other types of cubes that appear in various game modes make matching and point tallies less predictable, though they can be hard to tell from one another on the iPod’s small screen. Though not flashy - FreshGames could have done a bunch more with the light beam cursor and special effects - the visual presentation is aided by several user-selectable backdrops and cube designs, which let you make the potentially confusing blocks easier to discern. Music, as with most of the iPod’s titles, is nothing special.
Whereas Bejeweled is an everyman’s puzzler, Cubis 2 is a title for more sophisticated game players - the challenges of managing multi-layer cube stacking and different types of cubes are going to be beyond the attention spans or interest levels of many casual gamers, and even the small on-screen type may be potentially frustrating if you really care to read it. But if you have good eyes and want something a bit more intellectually stimulating than a simple block-dropper, this one’s worth a try - we’d pick it over Bejeweled because of its depth and variety, and despite Bejeweled’s slicker use of visual effects.