Sometimes the most simplest of games are the best. And at other times, you’ll just be left wondering why on earth you are actually bothering. Unfortunately should you decide to spend some time with the cheap SubaraCity on Xbox One, it’s the latter which comes to the fore. Pretty much from the word go.
SubaraCity from Flyhigh Works offers a puzzle matching experience that is slightly different to the norm. You see, whilst many from the puzzle genre will have you trying to work your way past obstacles, or understanding the complexities at hand, and those in the Match-3 sector leave you to combine blocks, this is a match-em up puzzler that requests you to kick back and join the random ride, combining coloured blocks in order to build a small city. A SubaraCity.
But from the very first minute of your time with SubaraCity, you’ll probably be left wondering what on earth is going on, and why you are actually bothering to make this town great. From the first moment to the last, there is little in terms of direction, except for some pretty vague opening instructions, and even less in terms of end-goal. It really is a case of just clicking some tiles and hoping your score rises, before going at it again, rinsing and repeating the process.
Visually SubaraCity is played out on a small 5×5 grid, taking up one side of your TV screen and leaving the other to contain the only real info you need to worry about – the score you’ve accrued, the year your city is in, and how many Mayor Marks you have left.
That means the vast amount of your time is spent focusing on the game board, as you attempt to combine as many blocks of the same colour – there are either 3 or 4 different colours available depending on the difficulty level you choose – which are touching each other. Combining two or more together sees your city grow, with small icons representing how valuable each tile is. For instance, a starting piece of a single person or house are amongst the lowest valued pieces, whilst larger mansions and high rise tower blocks are at the other end of the scale – filling your city with these bigger structures is the masterplan. Reach level 10 or above with any one unit and it’ll turn white, allowing access to a higher level of building; those over level 11 can no longer be combined together though.
As tiles become one, spaces are made and much like every other matcher that has ever existed, those above the space fall into line, with a new set of random blocks dropping in from the top. It must be said that lining up a huge chain of colours into one big removable segment is rather pleasant to action and it is here where you’ll see the highest scores taken home. And quite possibly the only real sense of achievement from SubaraCity in the process.
There is quite obviously a bit of a tactical draw to this element of the game, and whilst you could spend many moves progressing at a snail’s pace with combinations of smaller tile groups, the real draw comes from working through the grid in large batches.
With every match of tiles moving the city growth on, and an incremental step in the years since the birth of your town moving up, keeping these chains going, and ensuring that there is always a move left to make is a big part of the focus. You’ll want to continue too, as every 100 years and 100 moves that unravel sees a Mayor Mark become yours – unless you’re playing on the easy level – allowing the chance for you to remove one block with a Mark when you see fit. You can either use these as you slowly but surely box yourself in, leaving no further moves, or at any point where you can see a huge opening for big point scoring opportunities. But once used, these Mayor Marks are gone forever until another century passes by.
Each game of SubaraCity comes to an end as and when no more combinations are possible, and when further blocks cannot be removed. It is here where your score is totalled up and you find a place on the local leaderboard. All before being left to start again in an attempt to better yourself.
And that really is about it for this cute but frustrating puzzle matcher. You see, there are no other game modes included so lack of variety hits home very early, and there isn’t even a global leaderboard for SubaraCity that will let you earn bragging rights over either your friends or the world. In fact, it’s a very simplistic, utterly bare, affair which is the maker of its own downfall. Even the chance to ‘customise’ your buildings is weak and limited, whilst taking the time to try and meet specific city requirements just in order to unlock some strange little characters is pretty much worthless.
There’s hardly anything to speak of in terms of the visuals or audio either with that overall basic premise filtering down to these elements too. Yes, it looks decent enough for what it is, and the detail in the housing varieties found on the tiles is fine, but there’s really very little to even bother mentioning in that regard either.
This all comes together to leave me wondering the reasoning behind launching SubaraCity on Xbox One. I fully understand that it’s a super cheap game but that doesn’t let the team at Flyhigh off from the fact that the content included is bare bones at best; after just 5 minutes with the game you’ll have seen pretty much everything it has to offer. No-one but the most casual of gamer on the lookout for a cheap five minutes of gaming will find any form of enjoyment from what plays out, and whilst this may well be a capable time-waster on mobile, on console it just seems to be a waste. Even the Xbox One achievements are a struggle to attain as they aren’t in English.
Sometimes the most simplest of games are the best. But at other times they are just plain tedious. And that is the case here with SubaraCity on Xbox One.