Every once in a while I see something new on the Japanese WiiWare service and feel it’s worth a punt. Something about it just grabs me. It was true of Pole’s Big Adventure from Sega and it’s even more true about this game.
Immediately I was struck with a little bit of deja vu: the overall look and “vibe” of the game reminded me of a game I enjoyed, but had forgotten about on the Sony Playstation called Intelligent Qube, though really other than a superficial design similarity and the fact they both involve cubes they have nothing in common.
The central goal of You, Me and Shape is to throw little men and women onto a cube whilst keeping it balanced. Like all great puzzle games this simple mechanic has layers of complexity built upon it that makes it challenging and small details which resolve into a compelling package.
There are a total of six levels in the game subdivided into six stages each of which is a series six cube challenges (we’re courting dark forces here…dark forces of puzzle addiction!). The game is played using three core actions:
1. Shake the wiimote to “load” the people into it — only two at a time (in two player mode it’s one each)
2. Use the pointer to select where to place your person and confirm with the A button (repeat for the second one — the other player does this in two player mode)
3. Flick the wiimote in an overhand fashion to fling the people at their target locations (both are launched at once; in two player each player launches their person separately).
If the people land perfectly balanced a female voice will tell you you’ve made a “good move” and Kewbie (the cube with a face in the top centre of the screen) will smile. If your move was less than good the cube will start to tilt and the little people will lose their footing and start to slide off the cube surface. Every one that falls off subtracts five seconds from your timer — the total time and number of people required on the cube to complete the challenge is indicated at the start of each challenge. If you still need more people on your cube you need to repeat the actions above to put more people on the cube. If balanced people land near unbalanced ones they will help them to their feet or pull them up from ledges.
Each cube challenge in a game adds another cube to the existing single one that every stage starts out with. You need to have at least one person on each cube surface regardless of the total required to end the challenge. This will be highlighted if you meet the required number but have one cube surface vacant by the vacant surface glowing red. When you meet the target number of people required for the challenge the symbol in the upper right portion of the screen will say “JUDGE” and a 3 second countdown will happen. If none of your people fall off the cube during the countdown the challenge is over and the cube will rotate 90 or more degrees so the current surface will now become the side.
Any people who have their balance will sit down on the surface and stick to it as it rotates. Any that don’t have their footing will fall off into the surrounding void with a little squeak. The people on all surfaces after the sixth challenge will turn into white doves and fly away and represent your point total. This is then recorded along with the date and indicated on the stage selection screen via a box within the box representing the stage which will be larger or smaller depending on how close it is to the goal for each stage. Clearing all stages in a given level results in some visual special effects and music. The effect of the stage select screen with its neon moving squares is quite pleasing and is part of the attention to detail that makes this game so appealing.
Adding to the challenge of the levels is being forced to periodically throw a shiro (white) ninge into the thick of things. The shiro ninge will attempt to shove your red and blue people off the cube or otherwise destabilise them until you can send other people over to eliminate them.
Finally, there are special cubes which appear in higher levels:
1. cubes with numbers on different sides which represent the maximum number of people that can be on that surface (attempt to add extras and they all bounce off)
2. cubes with a trampoline section in the middle that people will bounce off of if flung there
3. cubes with a moving green interior section that will cause all people on the entire structure to bounce once if people land on that part
4. cubes which have a yellow electric pulse that shocks people that land on them during the pulse (knocking them off if they’re close enough to the edge)
5. cubes which have a pink pulse that bounces people off of them if they land during the pulse
6. cubes that freeze everything for a few seconds when a people lands on them.
7. small cubes that rotate around others and push people aside in their path.
All told there’s a lot of gameplay and two choices of subtle ambient music for background. Developer Fyto have delivered a game I’m sure many will enjoy on the Wii when it finally appears in North America and PAL territories. Despite calls by fans for franchise sequels I’m happy Nintendo is publishing original content like this on the Wii.