During E3 2013, we had the chance to go hands with Sifteo Cubes titles F.R.E.S.H., Squaresville and Parapluie, three titles that offer arcade-style gaming.
Sifteo Cubes are a motion-aware gaming platform are a lot like a mix between a Wii, an iPhone and LEGO blocks, director of production Bernie Lin told us. Each tiny block has a touch-based screen that players can tap, touch, stack or line up to interact with. Formerly known as Siftables, Sifteo Cubes made their debut in 2011 and were followed by a second generation, which featured touch sensitivity and additional control support, in 2012.
We first tested out F.R.E.S.H. is a WarioWare-style homage to '80s hip hop. The goal is to complete a series of mini games as fast as possible to rack up points. With six cubes linked up for the game, we tapped the Sifteo screen to smash bugs or picked them up and shook them to make robots dance. Other mini games required us to stack legs, body and a head to create a person or line up walls and use another block as a spray can to tag them. Each time we finished a challenge, the cube would yell "Aww yeah!" and reward us points. Obviously meant to be a light-hearted game, F.R.ES.H. offered a goofy, satisfying experience. During our demo, we cared less about points and more about completing challenges for the sake of besting our own standards.
We also played a Metroidvania style exploration game called Squaresville from Frank Force and development studio Killed by a Pixel. According to Lin, the game we demoed was still an alpha build from the Sifteo Experimental Gameplay Project competition, where it won the competition for the Single Player category. Squaresville operates in a very simple way. To move the character, we tilted a single cube to the left or right. Other cubes acted as additional parts of the map we could access by moving into them. This offered a lot of potential for mixing up the typical dungeon experience. By spinning a cube we'd just exited, we were able to re-enter and access a high area that was previously untouchable.
Sifteo Cubes also offer a unique take on multiplayer gaming, as demonstrated by Parapluie, a winner of the Multiplayer category in the aforementioned competition. In French developer One Life Remain's puzzle-racing mash up, we took control of a cyclist on the hunt for an umbrella. We were matched up against three other players with the same objective. By leapfrogging different cubes over one another, the bicyclist can move in several directions. This added a more interactive element, as well as a maze aspect, as your direction shifts depending on where you move. Parapluie featured a surprisingly tense race. Not being able to see your opponents, coupled on top of occasionally getting lost, kept us engaged and hungry for victory.
According to Lin, Sifteo Cubes can also be used for physical games, like Jenga, and much more. Sifteo Cubes are available for $129.95 for a set of three, or $29.95 for additional cubes.