I know, you see the title and think, cool, a racing game starring the cast of Disney's High School Musical! Sadly you'd be mistaken since it is actually a very cool match 3 game taking place on a three dimensional cube.
So imagine something like Bejeweled but as opposed to taking place on a flat plane of some 64 pieces it?s a cube of 512! Also don?t think you?re limited to finding matches along the outside of the cube. You have the power to get inside the cube and are free to swap any adjacent pieces along any plane. The game has two primary flavors, Classic and Survival. The easiest way to describe the difference between these two modes is how the popped cubes are replaced. In Classic you?ll always have a full 512 cubes to choose from (even if some might be locked down or useless glass pieces) which means some incredible cascades are only a move away (often even taking place deep inside the cube or on the other side you aren?t directly manipulating). Once you clear a sufficient number of blocks you?re off to the next level with even tougher requirements to move on. In Survival the going is a lot slower and more deliberate since no cubes are replaced until you have found every possible move on this level. Once the game determines there are no more possible moves you are moved onto the next level with all of the missing cubes being replaced. There, of course, is a catch. Any blocks you weren?t able to clear in the previous level are now considered locked in the next level. You can still use locked pieces in a grouping to clear blocks but you can?t move them directly.
Now that you have the basics of gameplay in the two modes there is the plethora of optional bits! Do you want bombs? Do you want to play timed or untimed? Would you like wild card pieces? So by including or leaving out all of these aspects you can tune the game to your desired challenge level. This all may have made a pretty decent game but Playscreen didn?t stop there! What has to be my absolute favorite aspect is the game?s spells (although I think they may refer to them as skills, either way). These spells are eight different special moves you can pull out of your hat if you have sufficient mana (every block you clear in the game becomes mana of the color block you eliminated). While some of these spells have pretty minor effects like creating a wild block at a location of your choice, there are also very powerful effects such as shuffling all of the blocks in the cube (which invariably will lead to a huge chain reaction of many cubes being cleared out for big points). Since these spells are so fun and powerful the game actually has some built in security systems to keep you from abusing them. After any of these spells is cast there is a cool down period before it can be used again. If you really want to use it before then you still might be able to but it will cost a lot more mana.
Graphics The graphics in this game are pretty snazzy. If you just see the still screenshot you may not get the game?s incredibly smooth 3D animation. The player can freely zoom in or out and rotate the cube to any sort of orientation they like.
The game has pretty decent sound effects from selecting a cube to activating any of the game?s various skills and power-ups. The soundtrack is okay but, probably to most players? delight, you?re free to play your own music in the game.
The game is incredible and innovative, clear and simple. With its myriad of customizable options you can make this game as tough or as easy as you want. Not only does it save your progress if you exit in the middle of a game, it even allows you to have many concurrent sessions stored at the same time (like say you don?t want to lose your progress in an epic Untimed Classic game several levels in when suddenly you decide to play a little down and dirty Timed Survival, no worries). Even cooler is the fact that the game automatically saves your progress on the last level you attempted in a game so, if you?d rather not start from scratch, you can retry that last level and see if you can take the game further this time. Here in, however, with this ?auto-saving? lies my one minor complaint. If every session you play automatically creates a save file, you?ll soon see your game?s save directory filled with a bunch of unintended saves (thankfully they?re easily deleted in game if you so desire). So when you come back to the game later it sometimes isn?t clear which your intentional saves are and which are the unrequested auto-saves. There also isn?t any online scoring as of yet but it isn?t clear how this could easily be done as there are so many possible configurations and the fact that the game allows unlimited continues.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: -4.5- Very well rendered 3D cubes. Sound: -4- Lots of appropriate sound effects and your own music if you desire. Controls: -5- Incredibly intuitive and allow very simple rotation of the cube as well as the targeting of the game?s many skills. Gameplay: -5- If you are a fan of the match 3 genre you can?t go wrong with this game. With the game?s plethora of configurable options you can make it as tough or easy as you want.