January 26, 2014 5:00 PM | Lena LeRay
We introduced fast-paced falling block game Rocket Cube shortly after TGS, where it was on display alongside two other upcoming titles from Keitai. At the time, they were in the process of porting it from the Blackberry OS to Android and iOS, and now that it's been released... well, it was hard to make myself put the game down to write about it.
In Rocket Cube, you have no control over where the blocks fall, but you can tap groups of two or more blocks of the same color/shape mark to gray out the blocks above and send them rocketing up towards the top of the screen. The group you tap disappears, and how fast the rocket travels depends on the size of the group destroyed to fuel the rocket and the height of the rocket itself. If there isn't enough lift for its size, the rocket comes back down. Blocks are cleared by being rocketed off the screen, and if your blocks stack up to the top without being cleared, it's game over.
It's the rocket mechanics that really make this game stand out. As mentioned above, you need to destroy more blocks to provide enough lift to get rid of bigger rockets, but you can get around that. Shooting off a second rocket directly below a slow-moving first rocket creates a combo with far greater lift, which means you can destroy two small groups to achieve the same effect as one much larger group. As the randomly falling blocks increase in number and speed, that becomes a key tactic. If a rising rocket encounters a falling block, the falling block is destroyed but the rocket slows down, and sometimes a little boost from underneath is all you need to get the rocket back up to speed.
Misjudging how much power you need can be disastrous, though. Once grayed out, blocks stay grayed out for a bit, so if the rocket loses momentum and falls back down, you can't use the blocks until they return to their normal colored selves. Meanwhile, blocks are still falling, stacking on top of the rocket, and all you can do is pray that the blocks will return to normal soon enough to save yourself. This is made more panic-inducing if you're unlucky enough to have a block fall on top of a rocket which is descending, but still aloft, after a failed launch, because it grays out immediately. You have to think fast and judge wisely, or you'll do yourself in faster than the falling blocks can.
The game has three modes. Infinity mode starts out at an easy pace and ramps up the difficulty until you can no longer keep up. 1 Minute mode is basically what it sounds like -- you're tasked with getting the highest score you can on a set difficulty. That mode ends with an offer to link the game with your Facebook account so you can compare scores with your friends. Cube War mode allows you to choose a country to represent, then play a time-limited game with increasing difficulty. When the game ends, your score is added to a combined score for everyone in the country you have chosen. Country scores reset on a weekly basis, though it doesn't look like Taiwan will lose the crown any time soon.
In all three modes, you earn cubes, which can only be labeled a virtual currency, though the game is completely free with no in-app purchases. You earn the most cubes in Infinite mode play, and the cubes can be spent in the other two modes to get a power up to give you an edge.
All in all, Rocket Cube is an amazing deal. It's a great game which is free with optional in-app purchases. Perhaps one warning is in order regarding language; all of the titles and names for things are in English, but all of the explanations are in Japanese. That being said, you don't have to understand Japanese to play the game at all. Don't trust my opinion on that? Well, it's free, so you can go try it for yourself.
Edit: This article originally said that the game is completely free. A reader informed us that the Android version allowed in-app purchases, and they have since been added to the iOS version as well.