I’ve been a gamer for a long time. I’v always been interested in heavy duty PC gaming and console gaming. However, the more time I spend on my Mac and various iOS devices, the more I find that my gaming focus is shifting to lighter weight games that require less of a time investment, both long term and on a ‘per sitting’ basis.
The perfect example of what I mean by this is Cubemen, a tower defense/real time strategy hybrid from 3Sprockets. Cubemen is a real time game played on a board of square spaces between you and another player or computer, and the object is to overwhelm your opponents forces. Read on to find out more about how Cubemen works.
There are a few basic things you’ll need to know about playing Cubemen before we get started. First things first: the spawn points.
The towers you see at either end of the board above serve as the respective bases for each player. The base serves two primary functions. The first function, and perhaps the most important in Cubemen’s categorization as a Tower Defense game, is that they spawn wave after wave of units who automatically advance toward the other players tower. The specifics of this function vary depending on game mode, but we’ll talk about that later. In the mean time, assume that the enemy tower is spawning waves of units–if you allow 10 of them to reach your base, you lose the game. Likewise, the conditions of victory are such that you must weaken the enemy forces enough to allow 10 of your own units to reach the enemy base.
Secondly, your tower allows you to spend resources (cubes, which are gained from killing enemies) producing offensive units that can be placed on the battlefield to suppress enemy advancement, such as the units with pistols in the screenshot above.
The units are, in order of cost:
- Grill: Lightly armored unit equipped with a pistol.
- Flint: Lightly armored unit with a flamethrower.
- Moty: Heavily armored unit with a mortar. Good at a distance.
- Fred: Uses a freeze ray to slow down enemy units.
- Ricky: Uses a rocket launcher
- Lazlo: Lasers. Huge amounts of damage.
- Mike: Mike is a medic. He’ll automatically target your injured units and fix them up.
When you produce these units, you select a spot on the board for this unit to travel, and he will begin attacking anything in his range.
This is where Cubemen gets unique. 3Sprockets calls the game a tower defense/realtime strategy hybrid, and the balance between those genre’s depends on the mode you choose.
Let’s begin with Defensive mode, which is functionally the ‘tower defense’ aspect of the game. In the classic version of this game mode, the enemy’s tower will only spawn waves of footmen advancing toward your tower, and your tower can only spawn combat units purchased with cubes. The condition for victory in defensive mode is surviving a set number of waves. The combat units that you build can be placed on any square on the board, allowing you to set up a gauntlet of sorts to wipe out each advancing enemy wave.
Of course, there are variants on the Defensive game mode. You can play and endless version, a version where you can only build Ricky Rockets, a mode where you can only spawn a certain number of units at a time, and various others.
Skirmish mode is where the real time strategy aspect of the game comes into play. In Skirmish mode, both towers spawn footman waves and combat units, attempting to clear a path for their own footmen to reach the enemy tower. Unlike Defensive mode, the squares on the board onto which your combat units can be placed are limited, making unit placement a bit more strategic. Skirmish mode can be played against either a computer or another human player.
One of the main reasons I love writing about games that get released on the Mac App Store is because they are often in a state of continual development. A writer who reviews games for the Xbox, for example, is reviewing a finished product that, aside from a few minor patches, will probably never change. Cubemen, on the other hand, shows all of the familiar signs of undergoing consistent development, and evidence found on the webpage suggests that we could look forward to new levels and units in the coming months.
With larger and more complex boards, as well as a more intricate tech tree and roster of units, I think that Cubemen has the potential to be one of those games that remains simple in premise, but is still capable of sparking in-depth debates about strategy among it’s players.
Personally, I love it. I think that it perfectly fits that niche of games that are simplified and easy to grab a few minutes at a time with, but not so simple that it gets boring after a few plays. Cubemen is a great start, and I’m curious to see what the devs do with it next.