From the makers of the Toki Tori games comes EDGE, a title which unfortunately does not star a wrestler or one of the characters from Final Fantasy IV. It is, however, a puzzle game that is far more robust of an experience than a game with such a simple presentation has any right to be. And it’s inexpensive to boot!
There’s no real plot to EDGE and the core concept consists of rolling a cube around an obstacle course to try to land on the glowing square at the end. The best way to describe it is a simple version of Super Monkey Ball or Marble Madness, but with a block that moves at a much slower pace. Unlike those titles, though, each of the game’s roughly 100 stages can be retried as much as necessary without starting over from the beginning of the game. The only thing failure will bring you is a lower score and an opportunity to attempt it again from one of the generously placed checkpoints. This isn’t to say that the game is easy though. Far from it.
The biggest issue comes from the fact that the sensitivity of the game’s controls don’t quite match up with the maneuvers they want you to do. The controls themselves are simple enough; just move the left thumbstick in the direction you want your cube to travel and beware of platforms that drop out from under you, blocks that send you off the edge of the map, and treacherous gaps that must be crossed by temporarily gluing yourself to other blocks. When the map consists of simply figuring out how to get from point A to point B based on its architecture, things are great. But if you have to escape falling platforms, particularly those that aren’t straight and force you to zig-zag your way around, your cube doesn’t seem capable of responding quickly to your input. Either you go too far and careen over the edge, or you stop and take your time and end up falling to your death anyway.
One move that EDGE emphasizes repeatedly throughout the game involves pressing up against another block with your cube so that the edges touch and you lift up slightly, a move that can be held for a few seconds at most. You can do this with blocks that cross over gaps, but you have to be both quick and precise to pull it off. If you don’t press on the control stick enough, you don’t lift up at all, but if you press too much, you’ll lose your grip and fall. You have to find the correct angle to press the stick in such a tiny window, making this an incredibly frustrating endeavor, especially in some of the early stages. I’m not sure if this was easier to do with other versions of the game, but in the Wii U title it’s a nightmare.
Other obstacles to look out for include wall springs that will pop out and launch your cube across the map and spaces that will shrink your cube down to size to fit into smaller crevices or traverse greater heights. This is all in addition to parts of the map that will move around on their own, often taking you with it. The camera is probably the biggest enemy of all, though this is helped somewhat by the mini-map that hangs out in the corner of your screen at all times. An extra button or two to rotate the stage wouldn’t have hurt, though.
The stages themselves are divided into three groups: normal, extended, and bonus. Upon finishing a level, any stage can be repeated at any time for a higher score, with such things influencing your performance as level completion, number of prisms collected (items which also increase your speed), and how many deaths incurred. The fact that there were no leaderboards was a bit perplexing for a game that emphasizes scores, but given how inexpensive the game is, I can understand the omission.
On the presentation side of things, everything is decidedly retro. The soundtrack consists of upbeat chiptune music with the occasional computerized narrator listing off the name of the stage you are on, as well as a color scheme that is mostly black and white and… well, square. The only things really of color here are the prisms, movable platforms, the end goal, and your cube which flashes at a headache inducing regularity. You get used to it after awhile, but perhaps a less distracting way of identifying your controlled cube would have been preferable.
Despite the control issues I had, EDGE was mostly a delight to play and has quite a large amount of content at its disposal. And the best part? It’s only $1.99 which is simply unheard of in terms of average eShop pricing. Perhaps this is due in part to the game beginning life as a mobile title, though whatever the case, if you don’t already have EDGE on the go, it’s not a bad investment if you’re looking to flex your mental chops.
Short Attention Span Summary
EDGE is a puzzle game reminiscent of Marble Madness, but in cube form, where the object is to roll your way to the goal. Despite the simplicity of the one button controls, the movement sensitivity makes it difficult to pull off complex maneuvers and the flashing player controlled cube can be difficult on the eyes. Still, it’s a cleverly designed little game that manages to do a lot with very little, and there are far worse ways to spend two dollars.