Planet Cube: Edge
It was the arcade cab of New Zealand Story in the corner of the Boarhound pub that sparked my love affair in platformers at a young age – and now, pushing 40, I’m still entirely hooked. I’ve hop-skip-and-jumped my way through countless Marios, dashed through all the Sonics, and dragged myself, sanity frayed and blood splattered, through Super Meat Boy and Celeste and still come back for more. This time ‘more’ comes in the shape of a perfect cube – 2D pixel platformer Planet Cube: Edge, that is!
At A Glance
|Planet Cube: Edge|
|Positives||+ Awesome synth soundtrack|
+ Polished monochromatic pixel art
+ Well balanced & rewarding
|Negatives||– May test the patience of non-platform-aficionados |
– A few minor clipping/respawn bugs to iron out
– No especially original mechanics to make it stand out from the crowd
|Played On||Nintendo Switch|
|Also Available On||PC, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One|
The titular Planet Cube is invaded by a bunch of robo-alien-types, and it’s down to the six-sided hero of the day, Edge, to send these baddies packing before they can hoover up all of the resources from his homeworld. You have to navigate Edge through a series of rooms by running, jumping and dashing your way around killer obstacles to push buttons and open doors to progress. There’s of course all manner of robo-baddies out to stop you, and one hit from their saw blades or blaster-fire and it’s history for our pointy protagonist, and you’ll have to restart from the checkpoint. You’re not defenceless though, as Edge procures the handy shooter of his own to pick off your enemies as you race to save the day.
Is it groundbreaking stuff? Absolutely not, but there’s a familiarity that immediately makes Planet Edge: Cube feel kinda cosy to play – not to mention that everything is snug and executed to a high standard. The movement feels solid and dependable, and the controls are comfy right off the bat, allowing you pick up the game and dive straight in without any need for hand holding or faffing around. I ran into a couple of minor clipping bugs here or there but nothing at all to be concerned about in the long run.
An area of Planet Cube: Edge that deserves real praise is the music, which I would argue is absolutely pivotal to the success of any precision platformer. It’s really hard to commit yourself to dying over and over and over again –ultimately for hours on end– if you’re only offered a bland (or worse, annoying) soundtrack, so it’s important that any tunes amp you up to keep battling, and that’s certainly the case here. There’s a retro-electric sound to the themes that’s in keeping with the visual aesthetic, and conjures memories of various techno-themed levels from games of yore. It’s mostly a high-tempo, jingle laden affair, with some dramatic flourishes that really help to highlight some of the hair-raising moments in the gameplay. It’s excellent stuff all round, and if you’re into soundtracks, I’d definitely recommend giving it a listen either on Spotify, or (even better) buying the OST on Steam.
The music may be great but it was the sharp retro look that drew me to Planet Cube: Edge in the first place, and in that vein, it consistently delivers. There’s real quality to the pixel art graphics despite the monochrome green visuals, offering a throwback Gameboy experience with a high-res polish that is lovely to look at. There’s real emotion in the animations for Edge and the distraught residents of Planet Cube (who are all adorable), and the enemy designs are stylistically tight without becoming repetitive or overly familiar.
The boss designs were solid too, but their status was significantly amplified by the awesome 3D intro scenes that preceded them – turning a fun platformer into an anime action epic for just a few moments before each fight gets underway. These 3D elements are used sparingly enough not to overshadow the lovely 2D artwork of the main game, and instead manage to bolster the presentation by amplifying the importance of the games key moments.
I do my best not to liken any game to anything before –especially where one is an pretty small indie affair and the others gargantuan forerunners of the genre– but there was more than one occasion where Planet Cube: Edge felt like a wonderful lovechild of Megaman and Super Meat Boy, and that’s praise that does not come lightly. While the gameplay is not as punishing as Team Meat’s blood-soaked platforming, there’s plenty of challenging portions that will test both your skill and your patience – especially if you’re trying to get all of the optional collectables. In fact, I could probably point to sections of gameplay that are heavily inspired by each of the greatest platformers of all time, but there’s no outright copying going on here – you can just feel the DNA of platforming excellence running through the code of Planet Cube: Edge and that made it a joy to play.
One of the things I found most enjoyable was the game’s ability to challenge you with a flurry of tricky elements all in a row, but also be forgiving enough to offer regular respawn points so that they don’t require pixel-perfect runs from start-to-finish. You’re regularly rewarded by battling through a tough section with a well-timed checkpoint, allowing you to continue through the game without wanting to launch your controller through the TV – a balance that’s hard to strike in a precision platformer.
And if you’re a precision platformer pro, then don’t worry – there’s plenty for you to go at post-game, with Planet Cube: Edge offering Hard and Impossible Modes to really test your skill. Hard Mode shrinks your margin for error by only granting one respawn point at the start of each room, while the aptly named Impossible Mode will throw you all the way back to the beginning of the world if you die! If that’s all too much to tackle (it certainly was for me!) then there’s still a lot of optional content to keep you hooked on Planet Cube: Edge should you wish. You can challenge yourself to blaze through the game at breakneck speed in the Time Trial Mode or go after the 112 collectables hidden in game – and with each one offering a cool tidbit of behind the scenes artwork, storyboards and animations, they’re well worth the extra effort.
With the sights set firmly on creating a precision platform experience that offers players a decent challenge without making you want to tear your hair out, Planet Cube: Edge undoubtedly delivers. With a punchy synth soundtrack that wonderfully matches the sharp throwback ‘Gameboy-2000’ aesthetic, it’s anything but square and will have you hooked on bouncing, dashing and blasting your way to the goal right until the very end. Planet Cube: Edge offers a balanced and rewarding experience that will definitely appeal to existing fans of the genre and surely create some new ones to boot. This one is well worth the price of admission and has a tonne of replay value for those really wanting to squeeze every drop of enjoyment out of their games.
In the interest of full disclosure, VGamingNews was provided with a copy of the game in order to conduct this review.