I’ve heard much about BOXBOY! since it’s release back in April of 2015. Brought to you by the same creators of great franchises like Kirby and Smash Brothers comes a cute charming puzzle platformer that can be enjoyed in long play sessions on the couch, or quick on the go spurts. When I saw this game, I wanted it, but as always with my backlogs of incomplete games, I held off for a bit. However seeing My Nintendo offer 20% discount on the already low price of $7.09 Canadian, I had to take the plunge. I so far have no regrets.
The game immediately stands out with it’s super simplistic visuals. You play as Qbby, a meager little box with eyes and 2 stubby legs. He traverses through a world constructed with simple black and white geometric objects. As lacking as they may first appear, it’s works. It gives the game a nice charm that is hard to really explain otherwise. Small little touches like the animations also help take it a long way, watching Qbby run with his smoothly animated tiny legs looks super adorable.
Outside of the visuals, the main objective of the game is to clear stages using a mix of puzzle solving and platforming skills, which both naturally complement each other here. As Qbby, you traverse the levels in classic platforming side scrolling fashion completing obstacles as you go. You can jump but not very high so majority of the obstacles you encounter are solved by Qbby’s unique ability to create chains of boxes left, right or above him. These can be chained together to create many different shapes that can be used as steps, fill gaps, be thrown, be used to press switches, or to be used to hook onto ledges you normally can’t reach. There’s many more uses that present themselves the further you get, so this is just the tip of the ice berg. As you progress through each stage, the length you chain of boxes can change, and there is a limit to how many total boxes you can create, so you sometimes may need to use this sparingly depending on the difficulty of the level. Qbby dies the moment he falls through a pit, touches spikes or electric beams.
As you progress, the stages start out quite simple to get you used to the mechanics and how you would generally solve certain puzzles. The first 2 worlds start out overly simple as to not overburden the player right away, however once you reach world 3, the complexity of the puzzles start the increase noticeably more and there are often times where I’m taking my time to really think how I get past certain obstacles.
The main game appears quite lengthy, I am only part way through it, but according to sources, the game is full of 17 worlds, which seem to have 5-6 stages each.So plenty of levels for those wishing the game won’t be over too quick. On top of that, each stage has crowns that you can collect. Like the levels themselves, they are easy to get early on, but I’m at a point where there are some that have me perplexed on how you are to obtain them. If you collect all crowns in a level, you get a perfect score, which helps to earn you medals.
Every time you complete a stage, you are awarded medals, which is the games currency which can be used to purchase unlockables such as costumes, time attack and challenge stages. There’s plenty to do and a lot of fun to be had across these 2 modes. Time attack is quite a challenge and you really need to be quick at creating boxes with certain shapes and orientations to traverse gaps, hook onto ledges and more. One wrong move and you lose precious time. Something as simple as creating a box behind you instead of in front of you could mean failure. I found my heart racing as I barely completed the stages in time. The challenge stages are great as they place collectible points throughout the level and within a specified time interval, you need to collect the required amount of point. I personally preferred the time attack mode, but challenge mode will still get many hours from me. The costumes are great for just the sheer charm of seeing Qbby dress as a cool backwards hat wearing sun glass stud, a girl with a pony tail, or super man!
I find what is great about BOXBOY!, for me who only has a certain amount of hours per week to be playing games. I can pick up my 3Ds and get some quick sessions in and make great progress in a short amount of time, and feel like I accomplished something as the challenge starts ramping up the more I progress through the game. Even going back and back tracking to previous levels is quick as the stages aren’t overly long and the quick pick up and play style makes it very accessible to those wanting to plow through the main game or go back and find medals they may have missed in earlier levels.
The game controls very well. Moving around as Qbby is very easy and creating boxes is demonstrated very well and what appears on paper as a very simple ability has many practical uses throughout the game. The box mechanic presents itself in a way that shows you a simple example, but immediately after, your brain is already picturing all the possibilities on how you can expand these skills which just adds to your arsenal. Often times I feel there isn’t a wrong way to pass a stage, and having all these abilities at your disposal really keeps the game fresh. Having the box puzzle mechanics play a vital role into the platforming aspects of the game is done very well and makes this game a joy to play.
The game boasts an unspoken charm as well that keeps me engaged. One thing I find super addicting puzzle games lack is a sense of a journey. I’m not saying puzzle games need an in depth story where it’s revealed that Qbby’s mother is a circle and his father is a triangle and he’s really adopted! Something as simple as giving the game basic characters and showing Qbby rescuing friends as he completes different worlds conveys the main goal outside of just completing puzzles. Another game I found that did this well was Two Dots on the mobile platform. It presented a standard puzzle game with a great presentation, and posed certain stages as if they were boss fights which I thought was brilliant, because who doesn’t love boss fights! BOXBOY! doesn’t have any boss fights, which is fine, but it conveys this journey well enough that seeing the cute short cut scenes every now and then is a nice bonus for those not just wanting a straight up puzzle game.
Outside of the great controls and charm, the main reason why I like BOXBOY! is it presents challenging problems to solve using Qbby’s box creating abilities. Late in the game, there are moments where I really need to stop and think on how I pass certain points. It takes a bit of trial and error sometimes, and there were moments where I had to close the lid of the 3DS and come back to it later on. These moments are not so plentiful that they become overly frustrating, but occur often enough to keep things interesting. It is also very easy to restart stages or revert to the most recent checkpoint, this adds to keeping the game moving. I find myself thinking to myself when I’m not playing on how I need to get passed obstacles next time I’m playing. There is much satisfaction to be had when you eventually solve a troubling obstacle, which in my case was followed by me saying to myself “Of course!!! It was so obvious!!!”. I personally enjoy moments like these in any puzzle game and completing stages like this just made me oh so happy.
For someone who doesn’t really play puzzle games much, the platforming aspect really appealed to me and I’m quite fond of this game. I really appreciate the uniqueness of this game with it’s quick pick up and play gaming it gives me and it’s challenge and sense of accomplishment. The variety and sheer amount of levels means I’ll be playing this game for some time still. More importantly, the game has a lot of charm, through it’s minimalist design and simplistic but cute character designs, I think there is a lot for anyone remotely interested in this game to enjoy. This may not be the main game everyone will be devoted to, but definitely has it’s place as the world is filled with so many huge games that take a huge investment of time and long dedicated sessions to make progress, BOXBOY! helps really fill that gap for when I just want to lay back and chill and just casually play through the main game. I highly recommend this game especially considering it’s low price point. I’ll definitely be taking on it’s sequel as soon as I’m done with this one.