The PlayStation Classic is a boring product. You get 20 games for $100, but the game selection is bland, and there isn’t much added value in terms of emulation options. There’s no single issue that makes it a bad deal, but there is also nothing about it that inspires the kind of desire that the NES and SNES Classic Editions do. There may be legitimate reasons Sony had trouble putting together a truly killer variety of games for this hardware release, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s almost nothing on the PlayStation Classic to be excited about.
Except for one game. One game which may make the whole thing worthwhile for collectors: Intelligent Qube.
What’s the big deal with Intelligent Qube?
I.Q.: Intelligent Qube launched Sept. 30, 1997, two years into the original PlayStation’s life. It had an odd cover, looked boring in screenshots and suffered from an awkwardly punctuated name, but players who were willing to brave the strangeness found something special.
“Intelligent Qube is simple, fun, and horribly addictive, just the way a good puzzle game should be,” GameSpot wrote in its review at the time. “While the graphics are nothing to write home about (being basic is one thing, but having pop-up and reflection glitches on top of that is pretty sad), and the soundtrack is made up of three repeating, though impressive, tracks, puzzle games are 99 percent gameplay, and IQ mainlines that pretty nicely. Gamers who’ve waited for a good original puzzle game should check it out.”
Remember the days when being “horribly addictive” was a good thing?
The game is played by controlling a small human who runs around a grid as cubes roll towards them. You clear the cubes by selecting a space before the block lands on it, and then deactivating once the block has settled on it. There are three kinds of blocks to deal with, including the black blocks that shouldn’t be cleared, and you can unlock different characters as you progress. It’s more enjoyable than it sounds on paper.
Intelligent Qube was a hit in Japan, but it didn’t seem to make much of a splash in the United States. It was never re-released in North America, nor was it ever sold via the digital Playstation Store outside of Japan or Europe.
The game was interesting enough that it became a cult favorite of puzzle game lovers. But is gameplay was never replicated by any other games, there aren’t that many copies that exist in North America. That’s the perfect recipe for a collectible, and you can expect to pay around $50 for a complete boxed copy.
Intelligent Qube’s presence on the PlayStation Classic dramatically improves the value of its included game collection, and it’s now the easiest way to get your hands on a copy, if you don’t want to track it down on auction sites.
It’s the game that may push the hardware from “maybe I’ll get one” to “no reason not to!” for old-school PlayStation fans, who have always wanted to try a game that is more often discussed than played. There are plenty of reasons to complain about the game selection on PlayStation Classic, but Intelligent Qube’s inclusion is one of the best things about the mini-console.
I only wish Sony had been able to include more games of Intelligent Qube’s quality and rarity on the hardware. I’m looking at you, Irritating Stick.