QBeez 2 (pronounced the cute way: Cue-bees, and not Cubez) is a thoroughly entertaining and massively varied Collapse-style puzzle gaming experience. But that doesn't matter. The game could suck and it wouldn't matter. The gameplay of QBeez 2 could fill my heart with black rage, but the QBeez themselves would make it all okay.
The key element of QBeez 2 that makes it so much fun is that unlike such puzzle classics as Tetris or the more recent Bejeweled, the blocks in QBeez are the characters. They're the QBeez and they're as varied and filled with life as any marketable toy that you'll find in a Toys Backwards-R Us. Plus, I'll bet they take a fraction of the time to draw. But drawn they are! The artwork in QBeez 2 has a great hand-drawn (but still polished) look to it. It feels not unlike playing a cartoon and runs great on a dual processor G5 machine or a tired old Powerbook G4.
The individual look assigned to each color block is not where the charm ends for your little block buddies, either. Clicking on the QBeez and hearing them shout out in their adorable cartoon voices “QBeez together!” is something that never gets old for me. It had the potential to, and then I realized that the grey QBeez will drone out an Eeyore reminiscent “Greys together...” and the brown QBeez will rock out with a hairband-like “Chocolate together!”, and so on and so forth. The voices are fun, but unobtrusive, and just serve to drive home the vibrant personality of the game. It helps QBeez 2 elevate itself from a standard puzzle title to a living plaything.
And speaking of play, the basics of QBeez 2 couldn't be simpler. The gamer is faced with a screen filled with QBeez blocks. The objective is to clear the board, or get as close as possible, by clicking on and eliminating QBeez in groups. Groups are defined as two or more QBeez, making it easy to find a match of some sort. The gamer is also given three chances to improve the look of their board. They have the option to either rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise or to scramble the board entirely, but only three times total. It makes things very simple.
QBeez 2 isn't content to only allow the gamer the sole gameplay nuance of being able to shake up the board, though. There are tons of different specialty blocks that change the way the gamer can interact with the QBeez, and each of these methods comes with its own flair. There are the basic color bombs that explode and eliminate all colors of their type when they're matched up. There are piranha filled blocks which can be pointed in a certain direction and will consume all in their path. There are feral cat blocks that will, alone or in packs, attack the least numerous block color on the board. There are clown QBeez that will attract the attention of a large bull who will charge the clown and knock out any blocks that are unfortunate enough to be behind the clown. And there's tons more.
Gameplay in QBeez 2 is broken up into three sections. In Classic mode, the gamer is given a series of options to choose from, changing the number of levels, difficulty and rule-set. Classic games can be played in a time challenge, racing for points against the clock, or in a points challenge, which is untimed for more thoughtful action. Each choice has an option for a regular or gigantic version, which simply varies the starting point for number of blocks on-screen. A nifty option (that I was pleased to see) gives gamers the option to play either a random set of levels each time they begin a new classic game, or for those seeking perfection, to play that particular day's set of levels each time a Classic game is started. This option is great for trying to top one's own scores or, better yet, one's smarmy friends who may be in need of a beat-down.