When I saw there was a bonus WiiWare update in Japan for some reason I was intrigued to see both games were from Nintendo. I was even more intrigued with the look of one of them: Kimi to Boku to Rittai (You, Me and Shape). The visual style and sparse soundscape reminded me of Intelligent Cube from the Playstation, but I couldn't figure out what was happening from the stills I saw at the Japanese WiiWare page.
Thankfully PALgamer found some videos on YouTube and it started to make sense. It's rare that I like a game upon first seeing it, but watching this game in action gave me a good feeling, so I just had to take the plunge. I guess I'm just a sucker for minimalist games with cubes in them -- you know like Cubello and Orbient, um...so I just had to buy it and give it a try!
The menu options are as minimalist as the game itself. You can view a "how to play" card that shows you the four controls used, a full tutorial that covers all the details with your host Cubie (he's um, a cube, like), or just play the game.
Visually the game is quite nice to look at. There's this cube floating in blackness that looks like it's made of dry ice: it's translucent with clouds or mist moving inside it and a faint glow around the edges. In the background is what can only be described as a grey sun looming over the proceedings. The mechanics are pretty simple: you're supposed to fling these little people at the cube and ensure it's balanced so they don't slide off. That's the game, right there in a nutshell. Interested? Of course! Who could resist throwing little people at cubes?
There are six levels in total and each level is divided into six stages. Each stage involves playing through a series of six cubes (well, if it wasn't already obvious Nintendo is in league with the DEVIL). Each of the six cubes (called Cube 1, Cube 2, Cube 3, etc. up to the final one which I presume is called something like Final Cube) grow out of the previous ones creating a lovely geometric structure. When each cube starts you will be shown how many seconds you have to complete the cube and how many little people (called ninge -- that's pronounced "neen-gay") you need to fling on it successfully.
The controls are as follows (note that a small graphic in the lower left will show you what to do at each stage):
1. Shake the wiimote up and down (I expect most people -- especially men -- to be familiar with this motion) to "load" two ninge to fling.
2. Use the pointer and click A to indicate where you want to fling those ninge (people who use remote controls will be familiar with this motion) -- oh you get one of each per "load": red females and blue males.
3. Swing or flick the wiimote overhand to lauch the ninge at the cube (Boom Blox players, baseball players and cricket bowlers will be familiar with this motion).
Repeat as necessary to keep on chucking those little ninge at the structure. If you need to change perspective click the B button to rotate the structure 90 degrees.
Now here's where the depth comes in: the structure goes out of balance if you don't place those ninge properly. Get them perfectly balanced with one throw and a female voice calls out from your wiimote speaker "Nice Move" -- follow up with another one and you get told "Very Nice Move" (I have no clue what a third consecutive choice placement gets you -- "Awesome Nice Move?"). A little encouragement goes a long way folks! You may get those ninge balanced nice but they can go out of balance easily; if the cube starts to tilt they'll fall over and slide right off the side of the cube and then you'll have to fling them back on there again. You can keep on pitching them at the cube to correct the tilt and even better if the ninge get near other ones hanging by their little fingernails they'll help them up again.
When the requisite number is on the cube surface, it's JUDGEMENT time! You cannot fling any more little people and there's a 3 second countdown. If the people don't slide off the cube during that time you get told "OK, Clear" and then another cube gets added. If your ninge are on their feet and stable they sit down for some Zen meditation whilst the structure rotates away to present a side that has no ninge on it. Any ninge who aren't stable slide off into oblivion with a little squeak.
After the Final Cube all the ninge still sitting on the various cube sides turn into little doves and fly away. A count is recorded of the number of ninge out of a goal number for the stage which survived to meditate and become little birdies. This score is recorded along with the date it was achieved and put into a little box for that stage on the board with all the levels and stages arranged in a dancing grid. You get a dancing blue box within the score box which gets bigger depending on how many ninge survived. Get the full count or higher (yes it's possible) and the blue box will fill the white bounding box. Your reward for clearing all six stages in the level is a nice visual fireworks display and dancing glowing stage boxes. Doesn't that sound nice?
Yes, you know it does. In fact this is just the nicest little game -- well until you try the higher levels and have a time limit which on the 6th one is all of 5 seconds to start. Oh, and did I mention that every ninge that falls off takes 5 seconds off the timer? Or that later levels introduce new block types like ones that electrocute your ninge or bounce them right off into space? Or the fact that sometimes you're forced to throw a white ninge somewhere on the structure who will run around fighting with the red and blue ones and try to throw them off the cube?
Well, there’s some challenge in there to be sure. But it's all fun and for all the complaining people like to do about what Nintendo isn't doing it's great Nintendo keeps putting out interesting new games like this and I hope everyone gets a chance to give this game a try.