I.Q. Intelligent Qube

I.Q. Intelligent Qube, one of the classic PSOne-era games available for Premium PS Plus subscribers, manages to deliver an incredible puzzle-solving experience that is still second-to-none even all these years later.

I.Q. originally released on January 31, 1997, in Japan, and it came Stateside that October. I was 17, and some might say this was my first love. I played the heck out of that game and have always held it in high regard. For me, it is the perfect puzzle game, perhaps only outmatched by the Game Boy version of Tetris. In fact, my only real gripe with I.Q. — now that I’m playing it as a middle-aged adult — is that its barebones presentation gets in the way of the core gameplay a little more than I would prefer. But really, that’s nothing one can’t easily overlook.

The basic idea of I.Q. is that you play as some guy who looks like he maybe stumbled out of the “Money for Nothing” video from the ’80s band Dire Straights. For some unexplained reason, you are trapped in a void on a floating plane of cubes — think of it effectively as a grid of square tiles. At the start of each round (there are multiple rounds per level), the floor rises and reveals a block of colored cubes that all begin tumbling toward the player, one forward rotation at a time.

I.Q. Intelligent Qube

There are various assortments of grey, black, and green cubes. You must delete every grey and green cube while avoiding the black cubes — ideally, you’ll achieve this within the number of moves the game suggests for the best score per round. Your current move count is highlighted in the upper right corner of the screen; for example, 5/5 or 8/8.

You can activate one tile at a time, which turns that tile blue, and once a cube rolls onto it you then have to press the button a second time to delete the cube, thereby turning the tile red. Grey blocks delete one at a time, while green blocks, once deleted, leave green highlights on the tile they were deleted on. These can be activated at any time to delete multiple tiles in a radius around them. Green highlighted tiles on the edges of the map will delete six tiles, while those not touching the edge will delete nine tiles. By chaining them, you can sometimes delete most of a round’s worth of cubes in one fell swoop.

And so it goes, the race to delete these incessant marching cubes (or Qubes, I guess) while staying below the suggested number of moves per round so you can rack up the highest score possible, which in turns raises your I.Q. level as calculated by the game.

However, I don’t think this will count towards your college acceptance or anything.

I.Q. Intelligent Qube

I.Q. Intelligent Qube was an odd game, and it was arguably well ahead of its time. There doesn’t seem to be much else like it in the gaming world. In fact, since then, the only thing I can compare it to is the under-the-radar, underwhelming, vastly different pseudo-sequel. 2005’s PQ: Practical Intelligence Quotient for the PlayStation Portable. That game felt mostly like a naming convention tie-in, and although P.Q. definitely had its merits, it just can’t hold a candle to I.Q.

Thankfully, with the most recent version of I.Q.: Intelligence Qube, Sony added the ability to rewind time via a “the last few seconds recorded” chapter select, which you can pull up using the Options button on the DualSense (I played this on the PS5), as the touchpad, oddly enough, acts as the Select and Start buttons. Once you bring up this menu, you can simple scroll back through moments prior and basically get a redo, at any point, which lets you master each round in — or under — the suggested number of moves, instead of having to live with your failures and simply move on. But purists can simply opt out of this feature should they wish to play I.Q. as it was originally intended.

You can also quick-save from this menu should you want to step away and not have to start over from the beginning, which is yet another much-appreciated quality-of-life addition.

There is one slightly odd component to I.Q. that I didn’t remember from when I played it as a kid, but that stands out now: The music sounds like it came straight out of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire. So much so that my partner, who was in another room while I was playing it, even asked me if I was playing a Star Wars game. I wouldn’t even be surprised to learn that the score was actually left over from a Star Wars game that the studio worked on, so they just plugged it in and called it a day.

I.Q. Intelligent Qube

Regardless, I think it’s safe to say that I.Q.: Intelligent Qube holds up extremely well and will give any other puzzle game a strong run for its money. And even if you don’t opt into the Premium tier of PS Plus, it is available piecemeal for $9.99. Admittedly, even though I love this game and would happily pay that amount for it, that does seem a smidge steep for a game that released 25 years ago.

Either way, if you have never played this gem — or, like me, you played it long ago and want to relive this classic — I think checking out I.Q.: Intelligent Qube is definitely a smart move.

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