Developer: Nocanwin
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.1
Device Reviewed On: iPad Mini Retina

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★☆☆
Controls Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆

When cavemen first discovered fire, I imagine their reactions to it were not great. It’s hot, it’s very bright, it hurts! But still, they burned until it made sense, compelled by its infernal nature. I feel much the same way toward Cubed Snowboarding. I don’t know if I like it, but I’m obsessed with it, even if it’s just to decide whether or not I like it.

CubedSnowboarding-4Developed by Nocanwin, creator of the Cubed Rally series, this takes away the rally cars and cows and instead adds in a snowboarder and snowmen. Players don’t shred for as long as possible, but race through ten levels of increasing difficulty trying to collect as high of a cumulative score as possible. Players move between three lanes, trying to avoid contact with rocks and trees, collecting icons to take turns, spinning in the air to get points, and just generally trying to not crash. Good luck with that!

See, the controls just mess up my brain. There are two control mechanics in play: tapping on the upper sides of the screen to move between the three lanes, with tapping and holding on the bottom sides to spin forward and backward. Lane shifting is relative to which direction the snowboarder is going: one way always goes toward the blue line, which is to the right relative to the snowboarder, the other to the left. But left isn’t always up or down. That’s confusing because the game is isometric, and about moving in or out of the screen.

But what makes it even more confusing is that the spin controls are not reversed based on direction. So a forward spin could be done by tapping and holding on the left side of the screen while going right, and that doesn’t change based on direction. Trying to keep those two systems in place with different rules is extremely challenging. While perhaps making spinning change based on direction would help a lot, it also feels like it’s a problem with the very core of the game, and would require a redesign to make work.

CubedSnowboarding-1But yet, I have struggled to stop playing Cubed Snowboarding. The game makes it too easy to jump back in to the next race by not really putting a bold emphasis on what each run is. And because doing well feels like it should be easier, I feel like have to prove to the game that it is wrong and I am right, I am the brilliant master of everything. It is a game that is very rough around its edges – it doesn’t even really explain its exit speed and rotation settings right away – but I still find it so compelling, even if I am absolutely frustrated by it.


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