Flash Friday: Cube Colossus

Challenge is a feature that is often neglected when it comes to Flash games. It isn’t hard to see why; Flash games are free and available to the vast majority of people with access to the Internet. Appeal to all these different types of people is often more desirable and prioritised over ensuring the game’s difficulty is competent. As well as that, there’s the issue that perfect difficulty is near unobtainable. Striking the right balance over what can be dozens of levels is a daunting task to say the least. That’s why I’m particularly struck when presented with a game that belongs to a genre that prides itself on its ridiculous difficulty. Cube Colossus is a game I remember playing long ago and have mixed memories of. So for today’s Flash Friday, I thought to myself: “Why not revisit it?”. Does the game provide a resilient but fair difficulty? Is it as enjoyable as I remember it to be? Let’s find out!

Cube Colossus’ story is better than most Flash games. You follow the story of two pilots: Rua and Cedric. Simply put, they’re investigating a mysterious and colossal cube(hence the title) in the hope of finding Rua’s twin sister, Millie, who went missing around the cube’s area. The personal incentive gives you a lot more reason to play through the game rather than just to destroy the cube and for completion. Most of the story is communicated through dialogue boxes at the start of, and during a level. Unfortunately, the story is hindered by two problems. Firstly, Cube Colossus is a bullet hell game and requires a lot of concentration and skill to beat. The last thing you want while doing a level is for a dialogue box to appear and distract you. Often, I would end up reading it and getting hit while doing so. Secondly, grammar and spelling errors are rampant. And I don’t just mean every now and then, there’s at least a couple every other sentence. I thought Medieval Cop’s grammar errors were bad but they’re a thousand times worse in this game. The amount of mistakes seem to suggest to me that the developer doesn’t know English or it isn’t their first language.

Compared to other bullet hell games, the controls in Cube Colossus are… unique, to say the least. Rather than aiming with your mouse and moving with WASD, the game uses a strange lock-on system. You pilot your ship by moving your mouse, which isn’t odd, at least until you consider the arena style of the game. Every level takes place in a single, square-shaped room and enemies come at you from all angles. So instead of simply firing one way or using the mouse to aim like in other bullet hell games, you can press W to lock onto the enemy nearest to you. The game also seems to suggest you can change targets with A and D but it never really worked for me and I never really needed it either. At first, the controls will be incredibly awkward to control, and although I eventually got used to them, they did have their moments when they screwed me over. Some enemies in this game move surprisingly fast and without having the ability to manually aim, the bullets I fired would often completely miss the enemies which made me feel like I had a lack of control over my ship. That isn’t good for a game of this genre.

You can also utilise two different forms of attack while playing. Firstly, your standard attack which you simply hold down the left mouse button to use. Another thing unique about the game is its energy meter. You can only fire your standard attack for so long before your weapon overheats and the game forces you to stop for a short while to let your energy meter recharge. Whether it’s a good design choice or not is debatable. As well as this, you have your special attack which can be activated with a simple press of the space key. Depending on which ship you choose(they’re unlocked over the course of the game), your special can simply increase your attack output to recharge your shields to even slowing down time for the especially skilled.

Once you get past the questionable control scheme, the game can provide you some fast-paced fun along with the tough-as-nails difficulty associated with the bullet hell genre. Sadly, this difficulty doesn’t come from rapid, hard-to-dodge patterns of bullets that test your reflexes. In fact, I didn’t have that much trouble dodging bullets in this game, I had more trouble dodging the enemies themselves. As I said earlier, the levels take place in a square arena with enemies spawning all around you. While enemies in bullet hell games dealing damage on contact isn’t uncommon, in an arena-like setting, it feels like a bad design choice. On levels where dozens of enemies spawned, I didn’t even try to weave between all of them, and when I did try, and I got hit even more. This was a problem that affected the final boss as well, who constantly dashed into me without giving me any time to react. Not to mention that on levels with several waves, enemies can spawn right on top of you, making you feel cheated by the game.

To be honest though, the game seems to expect you to get hit a lot. On the main menu , you can go into a workshop where you can change your ship(more are unlocked throughout the game), buy new weapons and upgrade the Shield, Energy and Attack of your ship. To beat the final boss, I upgraded my shield to Lvl 99 after some grinding and I was able to withstand 20+ hits before my ship was destroyed. In my opinion, this goes directly against the principles of what makes a good bullet hell game. You should be challenged to learn the patterns and dodge through them with pure skill and reaction speed rather than simply tanking most of the shots fired at you. I have never been able to take even half as many hits in any other bullet hell game, and while it may be more beginner friendly, I feel like it sacrifices some of the genre’s spirit.

In conclusion, while Cube Colossus is certainly a fun game, it’s riddled with problems that drag it down and substantially hurt the overall experience. The game is significantly harmed by the questionable-at-best design choices, difficult controls, and extremely noticeable errors in both grammar and spelling. Nevertheless, it is a decent game that can provide a few hours of entertainment. For a Flash game, it’s quite long, taking me around 4-5 hours to complete(though that’s mainly due to the difficulty). As well as that, there are a number for achievements for completionists and twenty levels in total as well as a bonus boss fight which I attempted once then silently admitted I would never stand a chance. The music is awesome(though I wish there were more tracks) and the graphics are pretty good, mainly when presented with the anime-style characters. If you’re looking for a few hours to kill and/or a decent challenge then this game is sure to provide what you’re looking for.

Pros:

  • Great Music
  • Free
  • Achievements
  • Fast, frenetic gameplay
  • Long for a Flash game(took me around four hours)
  • Decent story
  • Good graphics

Cons:

  • Awkward controls
  • Text in battle can be distracting
  • Hundreds of grammar errors
  • Enemies themselves more of a threat than the bullets they shoot
  • Upgrades are more important than skill to win
  • Repetitive backgrounds

Masterpiece   Amazing   Worth your time   Average   Meh   Waste of time   Kill it with fire

Play the game for free here: http://www.kongregate.com/games/lucidrine/cube-colossus

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