bhlaab's Suzy Cube (PC) review

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Bargain Bin 3D World

This game is an unabashed knock-off of Super Mario 3D Land/World made for iOS and Android phones and later ported to PC. That's not a bad thing; there are worse games to rip off than Super Mario 3D World, and to be honest that was kind of ripping off Crash Bandicoot (who was ripping off Donkey Kong Country and Sonic, who were ripping off Super Mario Bros, which was paradoxically ripping off Suzy Cube). I'm partially joking about the Crash Bandicoot thing.

That said, it's a much more simple game than its obvious inspiration. There's no character selection, no long jump, no side flip jump, no wall jump, and not even a crouch. You run with the thumbstick and jump with any other button. After running for a few seconds you gain a slight burst of speed similarly to Mario 3D World, but that's about as advanced as the movement tech gets. Power-ups are similarly limited in scope. You can find a baseball cap that will give you an extra hit, a flight cap that will give you a double jump and brief hovering ability, and a football helmet that allows you to slam the ground. The flight cap all but trivializes the game but is rarely found, and the football helmet is rarely useful and generally clumsy to use. The timing on its slam attack is so specific that you're likely to fail execution on it more often than not. The slam being bound to pressing the jump button in mid-air can also be liable for accidentally hurdling yourself into pits. There's also a temporary invincibility powerup and a magnet that draws in coins, but they're not often seen and not worth discussing.

The platforming in Suzy Cube is solid. While it has some indie game kinks that would have been ironed out in a perfect world, it gets the fundamentals mostly right. It's when the game starts trying to work outside of its comfort zone that things start to get iffy. The camera isn't the greatest at the best of times, always zoomed just slightly too far in, but when the game tries to do auto-scroller levels it becomes a nightmare. Boss fights are another huge problem. Well, boss fight. It's the same guy five times and each one is tortuously lame. They're the kind of boss fights where you just stand on a platform in the foreground while he sits in the background throwing fireballs at you. Once every fifty years or so he'll slam his head down and allow you to stomp on it, at which point you must repeat the process two more times. If your boss fights are going to be this dumb, just don't bother having them. Or at least don't make them last so long!

The game's not very long but there's a decent amount of content. There are 5 worlds, each with 4 stages, 1 boss level, and 1 gimmicky bonus level. There's also a special sixth world that is unlocked with blue stars. Again, like Mario 3D World, each level has three blue stars that can be collected to unlock the game's final challenges. The problem here is that a lot of these blue stars are uninteresting or annoying to find. While Mario used these to encourage exploration, experimentation, or to tempt advanced players into making risky maneuvers, Suzy Cube has a tendency to put them in blind spots outside the purview of the game's camera or encouraging leaps of faith or trial and error. The levels also sometimes fork the path ahead and force you to blindly guess which way is progress and which is the challenging route with a star at the end. Good thing there's a guide to finding these things on Steam's community page.

I think aesthetics are pretty important for a cartoon platformer. These things used to be mascot vehicles for a reason. For some reason indie developers keep dropping the ball on this. In 2017 I played Skylar & Plux, a game starring a hungover-looking furry. At least that game tried with (terrible) jokes and had a fairly pretty world. Poi was another indie 3D platformer I played in 2018. That game has an alright look and plays well enough, but the main characters are just these generic kids who look like they came from a cereal commercial telling the Trix rabbit to go fuck himself. How boring is that? Suzy Cube is unfortunately no different. Suzy herself is, well, a vaguely humanoid-shaped cube thing. Kind of like the main character from Fez except they took away the fez hat because it was too flashy. It's like their chief concern was that she be easy for the programmers to draw. The environments and baddies leave much to be desired as well. It's not ugly or anything, but it's all-around pretty plain looking. The target audience for this game is young kids, but I'd understand if it failed to maintain their interest for very long. The music is also not inspiring. It's similarly generic sub-Kevin MacLeod work, falling away from memory as you listen to it. That is, except for the music that plays in the lava-themed levels, because it's the most irritating 3 second loop of all time.

TL;DR
You can safely sum up Suzy Cube as an independent studio making a knock off of Super Mario 3D Land/World. It can't quite keep up with Nintendo's ability to refine its levels and ideas to a mirror polish. However, it gets about as far as a cheap imitator could.

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