XBLIG Review: We Are Cubes – Happy Independence (from Spheres) Day


We Are Cubes by 1BK is an indie game worth celebrating with on Independence Day. The arcade shooter is filled with plenty of fireworks that ensue after invading enemies falter at the hand of your precision shooting.


Cubes seems like chimera of old arcade games – a dash of Centipede, a pinch of Space Invaders and a dollop of Tempest – where you need to shoot enemies coming toward you and must ensure the foes do not touch you, or you risk death. It is the Independence Day of arcade games, but instead of killing invading aliens you get to fight polygonal objects.


You have just one weapon always at your disposal, a gun that only allows one shot on the field at a time, and several power-ups are also available to pick-up that offer some additional weapons such as a laser. The gun is undoubtedly frustrating, but that is more because of the mechanic than the actual weapon. Perhaps one of the biggest similarities this game has to its arcade brethren is the utter lack of forgiveness and requirement to play early levels until mastery. The enemies are constantly bouncing back and forth down a path and a missed shot must travel the entire length of the playing field before you can fire another; this game really requires accurate shooting to go far.

Besides constantly bouncing, the enemy spheres have different classes and require different amounts of shots to fully eliminate them. Once a hit successfully lands on an enemy – perhaps the virus to wipe out the shields was planted before the game – the enemy breaks down into two lower class spheres. The annoying part is if two lower class spheres bounce into each other, as they combine to form a higher class sphere.


As with all arcade games, amassing a high score tends to be the name of the game after a while. We Are Cubes is no different. Your combo score increases with every successful shot and resets with every unsuccessful shot, every time an enemy goes past you and bounces back – oops forgot to mention that – and when you lose a life.

The game has two modes, arcade and survival. Arcade has 25 waves with each wave becoming successfully harder. Survival pits you against larger, boss-type spheres and an infinite amount of smaller spheres until you ultimately die – after all the spheres do not bring peace but war, and you are only one cube.


Unlike Independence Day, the graphics are nothing fancy, but fancy would not really work here. While giant spaceships and Washington D.C. being annihilated in a single laser blast may be exciting in a decade-and-a-half old film, the minimalist approach serves Cubes well. The entire scope of the game is more akin to outlines of objects than anything else and helps build the throwback feel for the indie game.

The music is extremely well done and is reminiscent of some techno beats from the 80s. It fits in well with the overall theme of the game. The really neat part of Cubes is the ability to switch up the music at any given point in the game. If you hit the pause button while playing, the game gives you the option to switch the soundtrack to any of the four songs.

Cubes has a great multi-player mode that can keep the game fresh and lively as well as provide some friendly competition. Just be sure to leave out some important game play information and say ‘Oops’ after you lock your teammate with particular power-ups.


Before you begin the arcade mode, just picture Pres. Thomas Whitmore (Bill Pullman) saying, “You will be launching the largest aerial battle in the history of cube-kind. ‘Cube-kind.’ That word should have new meaning for all of us today. We can’t be consumed by our petty differences anymore. We will be united in our common interests. Perhaps, it’s fate that today is the Fourth of July, and you will once again be fighting for our freedom… not from tyranny, oppression, or persecution… but from annihilation. We are fighting for our right to live – to exist. And should we win the day, the Fourth of July will no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day the world declared in one voice: ‘We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive! Today we celebrate our Independence Day!’”



Final Rating: 9/10


CBR Break Down:

Console Played On: XBLIG

Time to completion: Less than 1 hour for the arcade after spending several hours mastering mechanics

Gamer Score Earned: N/A

Price Bought at: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)

Current Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)

Recommend Purchase Price: 80 Microsoft Points ($1)

Why you should buy it: If you have been looking for an arcade throwback that is a lot of fun to play and addicting to boot.

Why you shouldn’t buy it: If you can not devote a few hours mastering mechanics and/or hate arcade games.


About Steve Lesniewski

Steve lives in Chicago and recently graduated from the University of Illinois. He has been fascinated with video games since his ninth birthday when he received a Gameboy Color and Pokemon Blue. He loves following sports and cheers win or lose for the Bears, Bulls and the Fighting Illini, who include the 2012 men’s gymnastic national champs as well as the 2011 women’s volleyball national runner-up.