As I’ve made mention before, I do like a good physics-based ball roller – Marble Blast Ultra got me hooked on the 360, and I’ve always got time for any newer titles in the genre. Sadly, Hardcube takes several steps backwards, the result being a tedious affair that is at least over with quickly.
The ball moves sooo slowly, almost as if it’s rolling in treacle. Despite this – or perhaps because of – it still feels as if we don’t quite have full control over it. We’re equipped with a jump, which is used pretty much constantly, but as soon as we’re in the air any control we do have is lost until touchdown. The length of the jump feels disproportionate to the rolling speed, leading to easily over shooting the fiddly jumps and obstacles. A few of the later levels require a few jumps in a row, which proves to be frustrating as the ball topples over the side repeatedly, despite it feeling like we should be able to save ourselves.
There are inclines that don’t affect our speed in any way, and are just as pointless as the collectable items dotted around each course. These tot up a score for the overall group of stages, but outside of achievements this serves no purpose and, quite frankly, are more of a hassle and chore to get than anything. The camera is fixed at a certain – unhelpful – angle behind the ball, though we can at least rotate it with the bumpers by 90 degrees at a time. Regardless, the angle it’s positioned at makes judging distances, say for a jump or to grab a collectable, too difficult to bother with.
We can also play in timed mode that – you guessed it – places a time limit in order to clear the stage. Not that this makes the gameplay any more enjoyable. Each of the four areas (with eight stages per area) have their own theme that comes with a certain hazard; the snowy area has ice blocks that cause us to slide, for example. I appreciate the effort to mix things up, but in reality these end up just annoying us as we slide off uncontrollably.
On the plus side, the music is not overly offensive (even if I did turn it off 10 minutes into the half hour it took to clear all the levels). The same can’t be said for the sound effects, which sound worse than some of the horrendous stuff we had to put up with on the Mega Drive. Sorry, plus side. Easy cheevos – huzzah! Almost the full 1000G within half an hour, and I don’t even care enough to try and get them.
I came away from Hardcube severely disappointed; there are far better examples of games (Marble Blast Ultra, Road to Ballhalla) that involve rolling a ball around a course, and outside of some easy G’s I’d struggle to recommend this to anyone.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.