D-Cube Planet (PlayStation Minis) Review – Plain and Simple Puzzler

D-Cube Planet is one of two minis released by Indian developers GameShastra Studios last week and is basically an old-school block-moving puzzle game pinned on the story of a hapless alien from the planet Lilliput who has crash-landed on planet D-Cube and needs to rebuild his smashed spaceship.

Turns out that the little alien’s progress is blocked by mysterious d-cubes, which can only be moved in the direction indicated by their color-coded arrows. The purple ones can be moved in four directions, the red, three, the orange, two, and the green, one.

Your job is simply to clear a path for the alien and help him get his tentacles on each of the 40 missing parts. However, you’re only allowed so many moves, which is where the strategy comes in. One handy tip to bear in mind is that you can move two adjacent d-cubes at the same time and it will only count as one move.

To move either the alien or the blocks, simply use the directional buttons or the analog stick to place the cursor over them, press X to select them, and move them using either the directional buttons or the analog stick.

If you reach the ship part in the shortest number of moves you’ll get a gold medal; if you take more moves than the optimum but still reach the part within the permitted number of moves you’ll get a silver medal. Take too many moves and you’ll have to start all over again!  When you complete a level you’ll see a stats screen that illustrates your progress so far and shows how many gold and silver medals you’ve managed to earn.

The game has three difficulty levels – Easy, Medium and Hard. There’s no discernable difference in terms of appearance between the three, although clearly the puzzles themselves are much more complex to figure out on Hard and take more forward planning to complete.

As far as the graphics go, I really like the doleful little alien and his sad eyes, and the brightness of the backgrounds, although in terms of overall presentation, the minuscule in-game text with its occasional grammatical errors lends a less-than-polished air to the game, I don’t think that people will mind that too much provided the gameplay is enjoyable, which it is.

Another slight annoyance is the way in which the alien moves a little sluggishly, especially when compared to how easily the d-cubes slide into place. It doesn’t detract too much from the gameplay though as you’re not up against a time limit, so it’s not really a major flaw.

Overall, D-Cube Planet is a fun game, and it will certainly stretch your brain as you work out how to get your alien to his ship parts. The fact that nothing ever changes as far as the gameplay, music, sound effects, location, or background is concerned, and the complete lack of unlockables or power-ups to hold your interest means that you probably will get bored sooner or later. But if you’re not unduly bothered by such things and want nothing more than pure cube-moving gameplay, the price is such that it’s well worth giving D-Cube Planet a go.

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