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The Quirky GameCube Adventure Game You Likely Never Played

At the end of the Nintendo 64's life cycle, a game called Dōbutsu Banchō (Animal Leader in English) was announced at Spaceworld 2000 for the Nintendo 64 and its ill-fated 64DD. After Nintendo retired the N64, development was shunted over to the GameCube instead. When the title was finally released in 2002 as Cubivore: Survival of the Fittest, it got mixed reviews. However, it was lauded for its creativity, its inability to fit into a particular category, an endearing style, and overall charm.

As a result of its delay and limited release, you've probably never played this hidden gem. Cubivore is definitely one of those quirky footnotes in video game history: a simple, cheesy, but fun game unlikely to appeal to a mass gaming audience and destined to be mostly forgotten. It may have been relegated to obscurity, but it has some value today because of its rarity. More than that, though, Cubivore helps to highlight how awesomely strange, cool and artistic games have always been. 

It was a cube-eat-cube world

Developed by the now-defunct Saru Brunei, Cubivore was an action game with role-playing elements. A press sheet for the game was quoted by IGN as saying, "In this animalistic action game, Doubutsu Banchou, survival of the fittest is the law of the land. By using wild, untamed instincts to fight and feed off of other animals, you must crawl your way to the top of the animal kingdom and bring the wild back to civilization."

Basically, you play as a cube-shaped predator in an angular environment, out to eat its adversaries and become "king of the Cubivores." Other creatures come in simple polygonal shapes as well, and their construction determines how they move. Your objective: munch on parts of them before they can get you — but do it strategically, as different "colormeats" affect the way you evolve. As you defeat your adversaries (and yes, you have hit points) you mutate, making your character more attractive to mates. Once you mate, you can have offspring, turning your line into more sophisticated creatures with more limbs (or rectangular panels) and abilities. 

The game's Metacritic Metascore sits at a mediocre 71. Professional critics dubbed the game "addictive," "amazing," and "compelling." However, players had issues with the camera and lack of depth, calling Cubivore repetitive. Additionally, the graphics weren't improved from the N64 version, although they were still super-cute. Along with the limitation imposed by its release issues, this game was unfortunately not destined for a huge audience. It's still one you should check out, though, if you ever get the chance.