Review #1 by Rajiv Vaidya
So what’s Cu-On-Pa? T&E Soft calls it: "Rolling Cube on Panel - It’s a New Type Action Puzzle." Hey, they took those words right out of my mouth!
Most of Cu-On-Pa is unremarkable. The CG intro. cinema is drab; the spacey background illustrations are drab; the happy, crap, Japanese tunes are drab; and ultimately, much of the gameplay is drab.
Cu-On-Pa’s premise: You manipulate a Rubik’s Cube-like block on planar fields of various shapes and sizes, clearing colored panels to solve puzzles, win points, and generally feel fantastic about yourself.
Play modes include: Stage Clear, 1P Survival, VS Survival, Puzzle. On each level of Stage Clear, you must clear a certain amount of colored panels before time runs out. Clear panels by matching a colored panel with the same colored side of your cube.
This play mode gets tedious quickly and takes nil strategy, for it’s possible to do well and score mad points by rolling your cube about higgledy-piggledy. And if you do _extremely_ well, the announcer (who sounds a bit like a Japanese version of Small Wonder’s V.I.C.I. android) proudly squeals: "NEW LEKODE!" But, alas, even "NEW LEKODE!" can’t move me enough to recommend a purchase of Cu-On-Pa.
In 1P Survival, you take on an interminable parade of colored panels as your time bar dwindles into nothingness. To stay alive, clear panels to lengthen your time bar. (Ah, a fine metaphor for human existence!) In VS Survival, up to four players can compete simultaneously. These play modes should offer frenetic action, but they get tedious quickly, too.
On the other hand, the final play mode rescues Cu-On-Pa from utter mediocrity. Although there’s no time limit in Puzzle, the number of moves you get to solve a level is limited. Here, Cu-On-Pa resembles a game like Activision’s Shanghai, where gameplay tends toward deliberation. Only this play mode is worthwhile.
Graphics are purely utilitarian. Control and sounds are adequate. Whilst menus are in English, instructions are in Japanese. But don’t fret, the game is easy to pick up.
Bottom line: Keep your dough. You won’t find Puzzle Bobble 2 or Intelligent Qube’s good looks and more-addictive-than-Khun Sa smack gameplay in Cu-On-Pa.