By Spencer . February 7, 2008 . 8:51pm
A world of pastries in the background and there isn’t a portal in sight. I don’t think Salad is captivated by cake. She’s only interested in pushing blocks together and that is the goal in Loopop Cube: Lup â˜… Salad DS. The first level in sweets land couldn’t be any easier. You push the blue cube forward to group the three blocks and wipe their existence from the face of the game. Cubes don’t need to be mashed together horizontally. Grouping blocks vertically or in L shapes is fine too. As long as you stick to the rules and erase all the cubes you clear the level. The key is to stick to the rules, which just so happen to change from round to round.
The second stage has new rules, match four colored cubes instead of three. However, you can’t push a block forward if another block is resting on top of it. Seeing Salad crushed by a block isn’t a pretty sight. Fortunately, you can take a mulligan by pressing the Y button. It works similarly to the Undo feature in Word and reverses your last move and only your last move. If you made a mistake four moves ago you have to start the entire stage over. I admit, I had to start a stage over a couple of times after mistakenly pushing blocks into impossible to solve positions. The undo move is really only a quick fix if you Salad gets squished or if you miss a jump. See, Loopop Cube: Lup â˜… Salad DS looks innocently cute, but some of the puzzles are brain bending and down right unforgiving.
Salad isn’t the best jumper either. She can only jump the height of a single block and she can never stand half way between a block either. However, Salad has the uncanny ability to momentarily stand on air and leap horizontally forward to cross a gap. I suppose Dimple Entertainment could have included a hanging animation, but Loopop Cube: Lup â˜… Salad DS is more focused on being a puzzler with platforming elements than vice versa. The puzzles in the Loopop Cube: Lup â˜… Salad DS demo are quite varied. In one level you’re pushing giant squares three times the norm and in another you have to push blocks locked in a staircase formation. When I first saw this puzzle I pushed the tethered staircases forward, which was exactly the wrong first move. Loopop Cube: Lup â˜… Salad DS often tempts players to push blocks at the start of the level and often this is a malicious trap that forces players to start from square one. I won’t spoil the solution, but this puzzle, like many others, requires players to think about where blocks fall or don’t fall. Solving puzzles also requires some Japanese literacy to process the rules. You can press through Loopop Cube: Lup â˜… Salad DS since most of the goals are intuitive, but it may take a few extra stage resets to get a feel for a level’s rules.
Since all of the action takes place on the top screen, Dimple Entertainment turned the touch screen into a makeshift custom control pad. Instead of using the D-pad to make Salad walk you can press larger arrow keys and the jump button to make her leap. I tried playing Loopop Cube: Lup â˜… Salad DS with the touch screen controls, but the D-pad feels more natural. The second screen also flashes lyrics for the vocal background music, just in case you want to burst out singing about sweet cake. Seriously, the one song in the demo is a piece about cake! The song is appropriate for the setting, but after clearing all the puzzles I can’t get the sound of “cakeee” out of my mind.