Cubic Ninja (3DS)

Game Review

Cubic Ninja Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Jon Wahlgren

Is it hip to be square?

The first generation of games for new hardware is a funny batch. Titles that may go overlooked once the software library is defined and rolling full-steam ahead get their chance to shine, partly because there isn't much else out yet and partly because people want to justify all that money just spent by not letting their new gadget collect dust. These games aren't necessarily bad, but they wouldn't really fly with stiffer competition.

Enter Cubic Ninja. It's like one of those wooden labyrinth games where you guide a metal ball and avoid holes by tilting the maze — only instead of wood it's a clean, cold environment, the ball is a squat square ninja and the holes have been replaced with spikes, flamethrowers and wrecking balls. Not to mention the occasional power-up and unlockable characters with assorted physics qualities. It's not a bad little game by any means, but it feels a bit weak as a full retail release.

Just like those labyrinths, you slide your little shinobi around with help from the forces of gravity as interpreted by the handheld's gyroscope. It's not just a few little tilts here and there either: stages make full use of depth so, for instance, you'll have to move the 3DS above your head as if taking a photo of the ceiling to make your chosen character squeeze through a hole in the foreground. This method is intuitive but also a little unwieldy, and playing with the gyroscope disables the stereoscopic effect entirely — a wise move considering the amount of double-vision that would go into constantly moving the 3D sweet spot. If you're dead-set on playing in 3D then the alternative is using the Circle Pad for movement and Y to bring your ninja into the foreground, but the change in how momentum feels makes some of the more daredevil antics you're asked to do a bit more cumbersome than they should.

Despite the attempts at character through a cute script and its blocky aesthetic, Cubic Ninja comes across as a very blank experience. The environment is a little too clean and sterile, and the stage design is in constant flux between incredibly bland and somewhat complicated and interesting. Unfortunately it never stays terribly interesting for very long, and once one of the five worlds eventually does gain some momentum it ends. Moving on to the next world just as well hits reset on complexity, lending a feeling of restraint to the 100 stages included. An assortment of unlockable characters helps put a new spin on things by virtue of varying bounce and weight qualities which encourages multiple playthroughs, but Cubic Ninja never really gets crazy, no matter how much it seems like it desperately wants to.

You can try to go crazy yourself with the easy to use level editor and share or import other people's creations, but sadly there isn't any easy way to share your work. A QR code is generated for exporting purposes, but you can't save it to your SD card or post it online from within the game. Instead, you have to either have a friend snap a photo of your 3DS with their own 3DS, or take a photo with an actual camera and spread it that way. It's incredibly cumbersome and a real missed opportunity for the handheld's unique communication features — sharing creations via StreetPass or receiving new ones via SpotPass would have done wonders for nurturing player interest.


There are glimpses of really good times in Cubic Ninja but it's far too restrained to let those promises run free. Between the high price tag, cumbersome controls, middling stage design and strangled communication features, there are simply too many barriers to portable shinobi bliss.

From the web

User Comments (35)



Oregano said:

I got the game today(a day early woo) and I'm actually really enjoying it. I've only done the first two world(or whatever you wanna call them) and the only annoying part was the first boss.

I got it for £25 and I think it's definitely worth that much but I wouldn't pay the £40 some shops are asking for(I've not paid that much for any 3DS games yet!)



ether_breather said:

I was hoping this game would turn out well. Ubisoft only has themselves to blame for me not purchasing their games.



warioswoods said:


Cubic Ninja
$40 - 100 stages - bland level design

Donkey Kong (GB VC)
$4 - 100 stages - ingenious level design

Anyone still want to complain about the cost of classic VC games?



komicturtle said:

I got this game for $20 when I purchased Zelda at Target (50% off a 3DS game if you buy Zelda).

This game had so much potential but because of the wonky controls (Level design is fine, to me, really) it holds it back. And sharing levels should be through online, not the QR codes (although, it is pretty cool).

I'd personally give it a 7.



Xkhaoz said:

Man, and I was really looking forward to this. Maybe if i see it in a bargain bin.



MadScientistMan said:

well that's a bit stupid, the fact that you can't save the QR code to the sd card

can someone explain a bit more about the level editor?



Link977 said:

well, Im getting this one for sure, but I think Ill wait til $30 or lower, I'll probably find it in the $20 bin in a year.



J-Forest-Esq said:

Wasn't expecting this to be so mediocre. It got a good review in ONM, maybe if I see it cheap...



komicturtle said:


I messed around with the editor and surprisingly it has some depth. You can put objects and enemies in 3 different layers and mess around with the map to create levels in various forms. It's pretty fun and I know someday, I'll see a level inspired by Zelda because of how you can create levels in this game.



Milkman-123 said:

i agree with the 8th commenter. im starting to enjoy how smart that person is (ya know, based on the comments i've read)



bonesy91 said:

Ah the first batch of Shovelware (add that Naruto game as well) "breathes it in" smells like rushed product



komicturtle said:

Cubic Ninja is definitely not shovel ware by all means. Shovelware are broken games with no depth, very rushed and have the same characters with different colorizations lol

I'm referring to Red Neck Barnyard Games on Wii. Oh my, I almost cried by how horrible it is

Cubic Ninja did not make me (nearly) cry. So.. Yeah, I don't consider it shovelware



warioswoods said:

Agreed; it certainly doesn't look like "shovelware," it just looks like a good idea with some interesting art and potential but clearly not given the time and resources it deserves (or that the customer deserves for $40).



komicturtle said:

Well, if you have yet to get Zelda, then I suggest you go to Target and get 50% off this or some other game. The game certainly isn't worth the $40 as it really lacks the key features to make it a full product. It's a good game with good ideas but it just doesn't cut it.

I suggest no one use the motion controls because it's a unresponsive and kinda sluggish.

At least the menus are slick and remind me of Portal for some reason...

So yeah, get this game when it's $10- or even better, $20 cheaper. I'm very surprised I happened to get the last copy of the game...



ZombieToast said:

I actually think this game is pretty decent. I wouldn't have paid $40 for it, but I enjoy playing it. The level designs are a bit simplistic, but the controls are great. I'm really looking forward to getting some cool custom levels from people.



Odnetnin said:

I was sorta looking forward to this, but now that means I have $40 more for Cave Story or SAGA or heck, even Mario 3D. Anyone of those games is way more worth the money than this would be.




I had this on pre-order until the reviews started coming out. The idea is great but the implementation is not quite there. I agree with some of the sentiments above - it should've been a 3DSware game or at least a budget 3ds retail game (like that was ever gonna happen). This appears to be the best revw of the game. ONM and N-Gamer gave this game 79% and 75% repsectively - a bit strange that as their review contents seem to strongly suggest a score of the high 60s. Anyway, no buy. May buy it when its gone way down in price (like the on-line prices of Monkey Ball 3DS have gone ).

NOW, besides my insta-buys that I already have on pre-order - I just meed reviews for Star Fox 3D, Pac Man & Galaga Dimensions and Dr. Lautreau 3D



rachelthehedgehog said:

A lot of games coming out for retail seem like they should just be 3DSWare... Spongebob Squigglepants, Cubic Ninja, etc.



Link977 said:

Well I bought it 3 days ago (doubt anybody will read this) but I really like it, unlocking new ninja's is so awesome!



Blue_Yoshi said:

I got this game for 30 and thought about how much you said it tries to be crazy and was laughing to myself. It does try and seem intense at some points especially with the bosses. The music makes them sound more terrifying than they actually are.



Mattiator said:

I was hoping this would be an under-the-radar critical hit, but looks like I'm saving my money for other, better games.



Deadstanley said:

I really like this game. I think the game is best played with gyro controls for the added difficulty edge. If you manage to complete the game, you unlock other characters to replay the game as. Each character has different physics applied to their movement, so your strategy needs to change.



HandheldGuru97 said:

Found a copy of Cubic Ninja (new) for $10 at a local supermarket. I for one do not believe in homebrew or hacking, but considering this game now has a little bit of interesting history, I figured what the hell??? I'll open it and give it a proper play through, looks interesting enough and my expectations aren't to high so maybe I'll be surprised.

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