From the development studio that brought us Kirby comes the interesting Nintendo eShop-only puzzle platformer BOXBOY!, placing players in control of a small and unassuming square box called Qbby.
He can’t jump far or very high, but you will use Qbby’s special ability to produce boxes to beat each stage – creating platforms to help solve puzzles and reach their eventual conclusion. The amount of boxes you can use varies, and many require lateral thinking to use the stage’s gimmicks to your advantage. There are over 17 worlds in the game that steadily see the difficulty increase as they introduce their own new gameplay mechanic, with each containing at least seven stages for you to play through.
There are one or two crowns to collect in each stage, and you only have a limited amount of boxes that you can use in the stage before they disappear. This requires even more calculative thinking than before, but will more often than not result in you restarting the level. If you complete a level you may continue to the next, but if you do so without losing a life you will earn a perfect bonus and be rewarded with a lot of in-game currency. This can be used to purchase numerous things such as control tips and outfits for Qbby that affect separately increase your speed, jump and boxes that you can create, as well as time or score-based challenges.
The early puzzles in BOXBOY! can seem easy, but others will have you thinking about the best way to do it – often ending with an inevitable “Eureka!” moment. This makes the gameplay quite fun, but if you are absolutely stuck you can trade a 3DS Play Coin for a hint – making the game more accessible to those with less experience with the genre.
The controls are slick and relatively simple to grasp. Qbby can jump and can either create paths with blocks or use them to hook onto ledges that are out of reach. Often though, despite knowing the controls, you may occasionally retract your hook onto an obstacle or press the wrong button and drop down. This is mostly due to a mental model, but it does happen even to the best of us.
The graphics are simple. There is no colour, and there are no fancy textures. You’re just dealing with black and white, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s the certain style of this game that helps make it appealing. If the stages were busier, graphically, much of the charm would be lost on the game. There are parts later on with some less blocky effects, but it looks very slick for a game that uses no parts of the colour spectrum. That said, despite the minimalist look, there is often the desire for HAL Laboratory to have done more with their chosen style.
The audio is catchy, and you’ll often find yourself head-bopping along to the tracks in the background. As you play through the game, you can also unlock music to be purchase with the in-game currency you earn by defeating levels. This can then be played at any time, which is a pretty cool addition, as it always is.
BOXBOY! is a remarkably fun little Nintendo eShop title that you are likely to spend a good few hours on if you enjoy the puzzle genre. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but the gameplay mechanics are solid, the minimalist visuals easily charm and the musical accompaniment is particularly catchy.