Originally a Nintendo 64 Disk Drive title, Animal Leader for the most part remained shadowed with mystery. With the Nintendo 64 DD’s failure, Nintendo moved its development on the cartridge format. It was a bit late in the Nintendo 64’s life cycle though, so eventually the decision was made to bring it to Nintendo’s next generation console, the Nintendo Gamecube. Eventually it was released in Japan in early 2002, but due to its odd concept there was little chance of it ever coming state side. Thankfully Atlus stepped in and localized the title and gave it the name “Cubivore”. Was it worth the wait after all its development problems, or should this title have stayed in the land of the rising sun?
Cubivore tells the story of a world where wilderness flourished. A Cubivore called the Killer Cubivore and his pack came to this world and started eating all the wilderness, causing the world to go drab and unfertile. You start off as a young piglet cube with only one square, known as “Limbs”, hanging off of you. You recall a time when wilderness flourished and you become determined to slay the Killer Cubivore and become the King of Cubivores while returning the wilderness to the world. To do that you must eat other animals and mate in order to make your off spring a better Cubivore then you to have them hopefully one day beat the Killer Cubivore. While the story doesn’t have much depth it’s presented in a interesting way. Your Cubivore has journal like entries, where it will talk about multiple things that may have happened that day or something that he wants to happen the future. The writing is really strange but in a good way and it fits in with the overall look and feel of the title.
As described in the story, in Cubivore you basically eat… a lot. You hunt down other Cubivores and devour their limbs. In doing so your Cubivore grows, evolves and gains stomach points to level up your stomach (which is essentially a permanent increase in health.). Once you eat the limbs off other Cubivores, your Cubivore may evolve. These evolutions are not always beneficial, you can downgrade. Each evolution has different stats. Some evolutions are fast, and strong and others have incredible defense and etc. They also have different movements, some creatures may run faster when running backwards rather then forward, or by jumping. There are also ways to upgrade your charter stats via training grounds with mini games and also collectible items.
What decides what you evolve into is the color of the limbs you consume. As you gain limbs you will need more of the same color in order to mutate into more advanced forms, and eventually you can make color combinations to make more forms. Just because you can find matching colors doesn’t always mean you should always consume them. The darker the color the stronger it is. So consuming all pale pieces will make it difficult for you to kill dark creatures. This can make the games difficult vary randomly. If you get a good form with dark colors you can easily take out bosses and enemies. If your not careful though you can mutate into a weak form making the boss battles more difficult. While not impossible, it can make boss battles a long and difficult process. Although eating limbs is not nearly enough. You have to mate and when you do you have a child. At which point your current Cubivore dies, but stats carry over, so your not technically losing anything other then being forced to change to a new mutation.
Cubivore is an action game with very basic controls. You use the L trigger to lock on and the A button to attack. You can use Y to roar at enemies which makes them take minor damage and stuns them and use B to guard against enemy attacks. It’s ideal to attack the enemy from behind and take attacks from the front. After a enemies health is depleted you can attempt to rip off a limb by using the attack action again and hold down on the control stick to tear off enemy limbs. While there are some other moves, other then the attack its all about movement, and flanking your opponents. Its basic but entertaining. You can control the camera with the C stick but it doesn’t really work very well. It gets stuck a lot and you find your self guessing on where you lunge when the camera gets stuck. Theres a day and night system added but it feels pointless and just a waste of time when you have a cut scene appear every night.
It shows that this title was originally a N64 title. The game barely pushes the Gamecube hardware, but the theme of this world are “Cubes” so while it doesn’t push the hardware at all it has a very unique looking style. The music is simple as well but sounds great it is not too memorable. A lot of it is just an ambient sound track. The only song that is really annoying is the title screen music. Which after the first loop sounds just like some one pressing random keys on a piano at times. Sounds effects are strange and menu sounds can be annoying if you stay on them too long.
Cubivore has a decent length of around ten hours, but after the first five hours you essentially play the same parts of the game over and over again until you have mutated to one hundred different forms. While you are essentially doing the same thing over and over again, it was surprisingly fun the entire time and remained challenging. Players who search out all of the mutations 150 mutations might get 15 plus hours out of the title but otherwise theres no replay value other then just hunting creates again for the fun of it.
Cubivore overall is a really strange and interesting experience and its very hard to describe the experience. It’s one of those titles that you won’t ever see anything like it. Gamers who want some really strange, different and refreshing most likely won’t be disappointed with Cubivore’s unique concept, graphics and music. Cubivore is fairly expensive, running at the cheapest on www.amazon.com around 30$ to 60$ Depending on if you buy the game new or used. For the 30$ price point, I’d say its worth it if Cubivore sounds like the experience your looking for. Paying higher then that may be a little too much just due to the shortness of the game and how quickly it starts recycling the same levels and enemies.