|System: X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Q Entertainment||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Atari||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sep. 15, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-2||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
At its most basic, Rez HD is about flying around, locking on to enemies, shooting them, and collecting power-ups. The controls are extremely simple, involving only a joystick to aim, a button to shoot, and a second button to use the "overdrive" power-up (which delivers some damage to everything on the screen). Taking out targets is as simple as holding down the shoot button, dragging the cursor over one or more enemies, and letting go. The first four levels each have ten smaller stages within them, and the fifth is a long and complicated final challenge. Power-ups make you "evolve" from a sphere into a humanoid figure, and taking hits from enemies makes you evolve in the opposite direction. If you devolve completely, you're dead.
We did have a few complaints about Rez HD. It has a rather obnoxious loading time at the beginning, and it runs a little jerky at first each time you boot it up. The long and sometimes hard levels (especially the boss fights) can be a bit much; you have to start them over each time you die, even if you made it almost to the end. Still, once the visuals smooth out and you get used to trying the same levels over and over, it's a great game. The shooting action provides lots of mindless fun, the graphics and sound are some of the most creative we've ever seen, and despite their difficulty, the boss battles are epic and inventive. You can play with no game-overs to learn the stages (though, unfortunately, you can only play the stages you've unlocked in the real game), and there are leaderboards and achievements. Coupled with Every Extend Extra Extreme, Rez HD easily makes Qubed worth the $20.
We're a little less excited about Lumines Live! Whereas the other two games stand out even with the sound off, the synesthesia element is the only thing that really makes this title unique. Lumines Live! is a falling-block game in the vein of Tetris. Square blocks of four pieces each fall from the ceiling. The pieces are different colors, and your goal is to group four like-colored pieces in the shape of a square (or six in a rectangle). A line moves from left to right repeatedly, and when it passes through a solid square, the pieces in the square disappear.
To be fair, no other falling-block game we're aware of uses this exact setup, the music is great, the artwork that moves behind the game screen is amazing (if distracting), and the pace is fast. Also, originality aside, the basic gameplay can be addictive, and there are a lot of fun game modes. For example, you can make designated shapes instead of squares, face off against the computer, or complete assigned missions (such as creating a column with no blocks within a time limit). There are also local and online multiplayer modes, leaderboards, and achievements. The Qubed version of this game includes not only the $10 XBLA game but several extra content packs that, for downloaders, cost extra.
Hardcore puzzle fans will find (and on XBLA have already found) a lot to keep them entertained. It's just not quite as groundbreaking for the puzzle genre as Rez HD is for the rail-shooter genre and E4 is for well, whatever genre that game belongs to.
What about the folks who've already downloaded the games from this compilation? There is an extra here, but it's not worth the full $20 on its own. That extra is a video interview with Mizuguchi, but you have to read subtitles, and music from the games (which is surprisingly annoying out of context) plays the whole time. By and large, people should buy Qubed because they missed these three games on XBLA, not because there's something here they couldn't find elsewhere.
For $20, Qubed provides three games worth $10 apiece, two of them classics and the third a solid title with add-on content packs included. To boot, it won't take up space on your hard drive and doesn't require a high-speed Internet connection to download. It is, in short, a winner.
CCC Freelance Writer