Cubed Snowboarding Is All Kinds Of 8-Bit Gnarly [Review]

Snowboarding1

There was a time when practically every new console or games computer you bought came with a title called something like Winter Olympic Games.

Cubed Snowboarding by Jared Bailey
Category: iOS Games
Works With: iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch
Price: $0.99

That time was the 1980s — and the games in question tended, for the most part, to suck. While it was probably just a way of getting rid of unsold stock, the games seemed purposely designed to rob your excitement at receiving a new console — featuring uninspired graphics, repetitive sound, and controls that didn’t work worth a damn.

Jump forward a few decades and I had severe flashbacks of that sinking feeling while settling in to play Cubed Snowboarding.

Its graphics are 8-bit old-school, its sounds simplistic, and the gameplay… Well, suffice to say that after a couple of games in which my snowboarder swerved unresponsively off the course and (presumably) to his fate, I was ready to pack the whole thing in. Particularly when there was no immediately evident “reset” button and my score (or lack thereof) was frighteningly taken as some permanent memento of my gaming skill, and I was hustled on to the next course to fail equally badly.

Then something strange happened. No, I didn’t immediately get better and magically unleash my inner Travis Rice (read: a good snowboarder). Instead I found myself becoming hooked on the game and feeling the urge to repeatedly play it again: each time getting a little bit further. Maybe I had misjudged it?

Before I get any further I should explain just what Cubed Snowboarding is.

A variation on the Cubed Rally series by the same developer, the game takes place from an isometric point of view. There are a couple of different control schemes — each of which takes some time to get used to — but essentially the idea is to line up your snowboarder so that he can collect the power-ups which let you turn corners, thereby completing different courses. Aside from that it’s your job to avoid obstacles, grind rails, perform jumps and all the other things that you’d expect to find in a snowboarding game.

Graphics are simple and crisp, with rails and obstacles clearly standing out against the white of the backdrop. They’re undeniably old-school, but that’s all part of the charm.

Undeniably old-school.

Equally retro is the lack of do-overs and resets available to the player. These have become such an accepted part of modern games that doing away with them seems a mistake at first. Mess up on a track and you have to continue on to complete all ten tracks and achieve a final score. This doesn’t take too long, so messing up isn’t going to prompt iPhone-hurling levels of rage, but it does make each track somewhat more nail biting than it might otherwise be.

Like the Winter Olympic Games freebies of days yore, Cubed Snowboarding isn’t the only game you’re going to need this year. A simple concept, it’s replayability is the same kind of replayability you’ll find in Flappy Bird rather than in a super-deep RPG. It’s not going to consume your life for hours in one sitting , but it’s fun, addictive, and perfect for a short burst of gaming on your commute to work.

And in some ways that’s exactly the role an iOS game should fill.

Screen_Shot_2014-03-21_at_08Game Name: Cubed Snowboarding
The Good: Crazily addictive once you get into it.
The Bad: Controls are just plain confusing at first.
The Verdict: Retro fun. There’s a steep learning curve, but once you’ve got it this is tough to put down.
Buy from: App Store

Cult of Mac rating: 4/5

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About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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