XenoCube SD ($0.99) by Digital Embryo Studios is an entirely new take on your typical match-three puzzle game.
Let’s face it – the iPhone and iPad are great for those match-three puzzle games made popular by the likes of Bejeweled. But ever since, all the match-three games are essentially the same thing, just with different objects to match. That is, until now. It’s time to toss out those cookie cutter match-three games and meet the new kid on the block: XenoCube.
In XenoCube, you have a cube with 9×9 grids on all the faces. You can spin the cube around to your will to match the squares. The objective is to match three or more squares of the same color to score points. When you match four squares, you will get a random power-up that will activate with your next match (they all look awesome too). To progress in levels (up to 32 levels for each mode), you’ll have to fill up the meter at the bottom left. Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, you’ll be in for a surprise when you actually play.
There are four game modes: Zen Mode, Arcade, Eye of Ra, and Hyper Mode.
In Zen, you must complete each level before your energy runs out. If you match four or more and get power ups, you increase your energy.
Arcade has you playing the game to complete each level before time runs out. When you match four or more and get power-ups, you will level up faster, so be quick!
Eye of Ra is similar to Zen, except it is much less forgiving. Energy will run out very quickly, so you have to be fast. Like you’ve-had-too-much-caffeine fast.
Hyper Mode is the most simple of the modes – just score as many points as you can in 90 seconds. Those that have played Bejeweled Blitz will be familiar with this type of gameplay. In a way, this is XenoCube’s answer to Bejewled’s Blitz gameplay. It’s fun, fast, and will have you going “just one more game…” for a good while.
There is also an Augmented Reality Mode, though for some reason it did not show up on my iPhone 4S (in the app description, it says it is for iPad 2 and iPhone 4). This mode will allow you to play using the camera viewfinder for the background image.
In addition to using AR for the background, the game itself has a total of 16 backgrounds, with eight 3D backgrounds and eight 2D backgrounds. With the 3D graphics, you can use the device’s gyroscope to control the viewing angle (think of how the 3DS is). There are also two different types of art styles you can choose from, which is nice.
XenoCube also features full Game Center integration for leaderboards and achievements, so there is plenty of replay value in this game.
My only gripe is that when I adjust the graphics to be 2D rather than 3D, when I go to another screen, the slider is on full 3D again. This is rather annoying, as I put it down to 2D graphics for a reason. I would like to see the developer fix this so that the app “remembers” where you put the slider for 2D/3D graphics, rather than having the user adjust it all the time.
Besides that small problem, I love this game and find it to be a great time killer. If those other match-three games are boring you, then definitely give this one a try – it breathes new life into the puzzle genre, and adds some awesome looking effects.
XenoCube SD is the iPhone version, available for $0.99. There is also XenoCube HD for the iPad, which is available for $2.99.