Originally published on PlayStation Insider on October 21, 2016. PlayStation Insider is no longer active, so I have republished the review here for myself. If you would like to see the original post, check out the Web Archive.
There was also heavy use of an animated GIF of the beginning of every session of SUPERHYPERCUBE. That GIF has been lost and I don’t have the means to recreate it at the time being. Here is the intro as a 360º video.
Look at that.
That is the opening animation to each round of SUPERHYPERCUBE. It’s like going into hyperspace with rainbows.
It is pure euphoria that could only be experienced through virtual reality. I wish I could throw the GIF up one more time and call this review done.
There is much more to enjoy in SUPERHYPERCUBE than total envelopment by a rainbow, but that doesn’t stop the beginning from slapping a grin on my face as I rush off into the matrix of an 80’s inspired virtual puzzle game.
Developed by Kokoromi and published by Polytron (the creators of FEZ), SUPERHYPERCUBE is a drop puzzle game, in the vain of Tetris. At the start of every game, you begin with a single cube that obscures your view of wall with a hole in it. As the wall moves closer to the cube, you must orientate the cube to fit it through the hole. Wall after wall, more cubes attach themselves to the original cube. You quickly find yourself having to position this odd 3D shape you have amassed into a 2D hole. It’s like fitting a square peg into a round hole.
What makes virtual reality essential to this puzzle game is the simple mechanic of looking around the massive shape of cubes in front of your face. The only way to see the hole you have to fit is to physically look around cube obscuring your view. When this fact dawned on me during my very first session at a PSVR demo in Best Buy, I was in awe of the simplicity and was hooked from then on out. I kept wanting to make the 30 minute drive to Best Buy just to play one more time.
If you fail to match the shape to the hole, you will lose the cubes that did not fit. You can fail twice before it is game over. To keep you going longer and to chase the high score, there are two power-ups that you can unlock to use during each run. The first is HYPERFOCUS, which allows you to slow down time so you can line up the shape before crashing into the wall. The second is SMASH. As the name implies, this power-up lets you obliterate a wall and advance to the next.
To use these power-ups, you have to use BOOST to fill two meters: HYPERFOCUS takes one meter, while SMASH requires both. By pressing the X button, you can fly right into the hole and advance immediately to the next challenge. The further back from the wall you are, the more boost time you have, which fills the meter more quickly.
I found my heart rate climbing higher and higher as my awkward shape assembled itself, demanding me to make it fit the approaching hole. I always felt on the verge of success and failure. Finding the right orientation moments before collision is elating, followed immediately by the excitement of the challenge to do it all over again.
As satisfying as the rush of matching shapes is, the drive to play over and over was chasing my high score. The way scoring works is as straightforward as game itself. After each wall, the amount of cubes you have attached is added to your score: The more cubes you have, the more points are added. Between your own scores and the world leaderboards, the score chasing is an essential part of the addictive quality of SUPERHYPERCUBE. The addiction comes from knowing, deep down at your core, you can make it one more wall farther and raise that score to climb the global ranks.
The art design begs the question, “What if virtual reality was prevalent in the 80’s?” Wireframes surround you in a dream like trance of color. The further you progress, the more complex the visuals become. Lines turn into squares, which turn into triangles and so on. Fueled by neon and 80’s technology, the game pulsates with a perceptible energy. Fused with the immersion virtual reality provides, this vibrant design of colors, shapes, and lights transcends perception and becomes a palpable buzz of excitement.
The sound design is enveloping. Cubes attach themselves with satisfactory thumps. Boosting from wall to wall surrounds you in a rushing woosh, as if you stuck your head out a window of a car going down an empty road. It is abstract much like the visuals that are developing around you as you go deeper into the machine that is the world of the puzzle. No catchy, inescapable tune like Tetris. The sound hums with the energy of the neon art style. This game is alive. Every design decision is crucial and executed masterfully to convey that through a headset.
SUPERHYPERCUBE is a mesmerizing journey where I want to go deeper and deeper every time I play. The surge of energy from the aesthetic combined with the high of nailing the orientation of a complex object amped me up and kept me returning over and over again. Kokoromi has created a must-have launch title for PSVR. SUPERHYPERCUBE is pure puzzle mechanic joy that shines. You are wired into the world of the puzzle and Kokoromi wants you to stay. They don’t have to ask me twice. Now if you’ll excuse me.