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This $500 'Rubik's Cube' Plays a Mind-Bending Version of Pac-Man (and More)

The WOWCube has 24 independent touch screen displays and tracks when you twist, touch, or shake it.

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The WOWCube has 24 separate touchscreens, and the ability to twist it on multiple axis introduces some mind-bending interactions.
Gif: Kyle Barr/Gizmodo

If you’re the kind of person who spins Rubik’s Cubes not to solve them, but just to feel the satisfying click-clack as you rotate their sides, then the WOWCube may be a more engaging way to fulfill your fidgety tendencies, as long as you’re willing to pay for it.

I was able to get a short hands on with the WOWCube at CES. It’s a cube with six sides, but with eight individual cubes that contain three OLED screens each. Each cube can rotate on different axes just like a Rubik’s Cube, which allows for some pretty mind bending interactions on the set of games the company demoed for me. I played a simple guide-the-ball game that introduced some complications in the way the different sides interacted. I also played a weird version of Pac-Man that was controlled by tilting the cube, while the different paths around the cube could be manipulated by twisting the sides.

The WOWCube’s been at CES few a few years as a work-in-progress, but now it’s actually something you can buy. The system is up for pre-orders for $399, but after that, the device will retail at $499 standard. That version comes with three pre-installed games. Its “Black Edition” goes for a ludicrous $699, and comes with a carrying case, dock station, and metal corner caps to stop you from cracking the screens when you inevitably drop it. It also comes with 21 games built in and a $100 gift card to purchase more.

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I’m always hesitant when a company comes at me with anything that claims to be “the next dimension in gaming” while costing just as much as I paid for my PlayStation 5. But the WowCube really is a fascinating piece of tech. Still, it’s a shame you’ll need to pay such a high price for such an interesting novelty.

The good thing is that the WowCube itself is a solid hunk of tech, at least based on my limited interactions with it, it feels hefty without being heavy. The individual touch screens themselves felt responsive to inputs. From the few games I played that used tilt controls, objects on the screen also moved as intended. It was fun to shake the thing to get it back to the main menu. However, the best part about the thing was how smooth it felt to rotate the individual blocks. Twisting it was as immediately satisfying as flicking the buttons on a fidget cube.

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Company CEO Max Filin also took apart the device to show that each cube can technically function independently, which he said opens up the possibility of playing games by connecting different cubes together on future versions of the WOWCube.

It’s certainly an interesting piece of tech, though I’d want it for much more than just games for such a price. The company did say it comes with more tools, like a weather app, digital photo frames and a smart night light, but I’d want to spend much more time with it before I could say if the price is worth it. The company is also encouraging more people to develop games using its proprietary devkit, but time will tell who also jumps on the cube bandwagon.