Posted by Thomas Whitehead
A different side of the same cube
We are already big fans of EDGE on the Wii U eShop, a release in which it was one-third of the Two Tribes Classics trilogy. Its arrival on the 3DS is as a solo flyer, and perhaps on a screen size that'll be more familiar to veterans of the mobigame title that Two Tribes has so effectively promoted to gamers of all types. With a smaller screen comes no less challenge or content, however, though this isn't a perfect iteration of such an excellent title.
To recap what we said in our recent review of the Wii U eShop version, this is a title with an extremely simple premise — you move a cube through a variety of courses — of which there are over 100 — to reach a goal; you're then graded on the speed and efficiency of your performance. The only score chasing is with yourself, perhaps unsurprising with a budget release — especially at its introductory price — as you seek elusive S ranks across the board. Skilful gamers with a hint of obsessive and compulsive behaviour will be in heaven, as the simplicity of moving with the Circle Pad or D-Pad is aligned with increasingly tricky and complex level design.
Level design is one of the triumphs of this title, as is its solid structure in gradually educating you in its rules and mechanics. Early on you're simply rolling up the occasional step and familiarising yourself with basic principles, but in no time you'll be triggering switches, racing against receding platforms and dodging pulsing blocks that push you into dark oblivion. The toughest sequences require you to cling to moving blocks while using the aptly named EDGE move, a skill that requires great precision. On the Wii U we would use the left stick for general movement and the D-Pad for these gravity defying EDGE moments, but on 3DS we pretty much stuck with the Circle Pad throughout, with its different feel bringing the most accurate control.
What's inescapable is that the tight control and smooth performance is lost a little in this portable version. It would perhaps be unfair to demand a consistent 60 frames-per-second as per the HD equivalent, and it's noticeable that the performance is a little slower. It is, for the most part, smooth, yet some of the toughest segments are that little bit more challenging due to that palpable loss of framerate perfection. The majority of the time it is perfectly adequate, yet we came across a few levels where the performance inexplicably slowed to a crawl, with these stages only playable due to their relative simplicity; when there are large expanses of moving blocks, issues arise. The simplicity of the visual style makes these infrequent but painful drops a real disappointment.
That basic aesthetic, comprising of cubic courses and a starry background, does look attractive on the 3DS. This is a title that's done the rounds on smartphones and tablets, and what were large, chunky environments on a TV are well suited to smaller screens; the 3D effect is also pleasing, and perhaps helpful to a degree in judging drops and dimensions from the fixed camera view. The fantastic soundtrack complements the artistic design perfectly, with moments of retro bit-tunes being joined by techno beats and some lighter, more mysterious tracks. The audio is outstanding, and as good a candidate as any to be enjoyed with headphones.
What this 3DS eShop version does deliver is the same excellent game that we've enjoyed on the Wii U, but on the go, also boasting ever-valuable physical controls over the iOS and Android alternatives.
As a 3DS eShop game EDGE is certainly worth a strong recommendation, with plenty of content and simple but addictive challenge being well suited to short pick-up-and-play sessions. Some sheen and polish is lost in translation from the Wii U, however, and while a lower steady framerate is to be expected on weaker hardware, infrequent dips where movement becomes a crawl are disappointing. Once those moments are passed, however, it's highly enjoyable, and well worth a plunge for portable gaming enthusiasts.