Suzy Cube is a brilliant new 3D platformer developed by indie game studio NorthernBytes Software and published by Noodlecake Studios. It's a charming premium title that manages to cram all the fun and charm of a Nintendo-style platformer onto your phone with little to no compromise. Goodbye Mario, hello Suzy Cube!
Before I get into the full written review, check out this brief video of live gameplay and commentary I recorded using the YouTube Gaming app:
A polished platforming experience
Suzy Cube has been in development by for over three years as a passion project by indie game developer Louis-Nicolas Dozois. It's been featured at gaming conventions throughout its development and regularly garnered praise from those who had a chance to play it.
Dozois partnered with Noodlecake Studios to help with publishing and you can see their subtle touches to the clean menu design and polished presentation, but it's the gameplay itself that really shines through. It can be really hard to develop a proper 3D platformer for touchscreen devices because there's so much that can go wrong. Touch controls are a constant point of criticism for ambitious 3D mobile games, and a game can be completely derailed by a poorly implemented camera angle or boring level designs.
In my mind, there's a short list of qualities that must be present in any great 3D platformer. They are:
- Solid controls that are quick and responsive.
- Levels offer new challenges and gameplay variety as you progress.
- A dynamic camera that never feels out of position or cumbersome as you play.
Suzy Cube manages to come through on all three points in stride, which is especially impressive given the limitations of developing for touchscreen devices. When it comes to mobile gaming, Suzy Cube might be the new gold standard for touch controls — they simply need to be experienced to be believed. If touchscreen controls just aren't your thing, there's Bluetooth controller support which is fantastic as always.
Coupled with the superb controls is an in-game camera that tracks your character as you play without the player having to struggle with it at all. The player has no control over the camera, so it needs to match the player's flow and it rarely fails except for a few auto-scrolling levels where that's by design. Several levels in Suzy Cube include segments where the player's perspective totally shifts, and it works so well because you never doubt the controls and the camera is quick to adapt — whether you're sprinting up a spiral mountain or exploring the depths of an underground labyrinth.
Suzy Cube's great controls allow for more advanced level designs, which you'll experience as you progress through the game. Each level feels unique from the last and the complexity of the challenges gradually increases as you play. Rather than fighting against the controls or camera to stay on course, you're left to enjoy the gameplay itself and the variety of set pieces and level styles presented.
Lacking enemy variety
Perhaps the only weaknesses are in the variety of the bad guys and the storyline, which are both simple and mostly feel like an afterthought. Stomping on the little cube baddies is fun, but there's very little variety among them and you will quickly forget that they are supposedly the main bad guys who stole your kingdom's gold.
Then there the boss battles, which are five differently colored dragons that share the same design, attack patterns, and weaknesses. It's not a huge knock on Suzy Cube that each world features essentially same boss battle with just minor tweaks because each offers its own slight attack variation and I would expect that there are some limitations for an indie title like this. Fortunately, it's a fun sequence that get's downright diabolical by World 5.
Reasons to play again
Suzy Cube features six levels in each world and a secret world that includes an additional 10 levels that are only unlocked by collecting all the stars in Worlds 1-5. That means you're going to be playing each level multiple times to unlock all the content in the game.
For some games that can be an exhaustive exercise, but Suzy Cube is such a joy to play that I have just as much fun going back and trying to track down the more tricky hidden stars as I did playing it through the first time. Everything is also kept to a strict timer, so I could see myself trying to do level speed runs and finding new and faster ways of cutting through a level.
Suzy Cube was developed as a passion project and it's clear as you're playing all the care and attention to detail that went into making this one of the best games released for Android this year.
Here's hoping that we get a sequel that follows up with the same great gameplay and controls because the bedrock has been set for a new franchise for a genre that has been largely maligned on mobile.
Looks great. Thanks for mentioning that it works with Bluetooth controllers. Now I wonder if I can side-load this onto my Amazon Fire TV...
Wow, this is a blatant rip-off of Super Mario 3D Land. They did a good job on it, but it lacks any originality.
The reviews about bad controls on the playstore is making me hesitant. I'll keep it in my wishlist for now.
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