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Review: BoxBoxBoy!

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A lot more boxes, slightly more fun

For whatever reason, I missed out on the original BoxBoy! when it was released in last spring. I distinctly remember it coming out, and I even reported on its release, but nothing about it grabbed me. It's one of those games that really thrives on word of mouth endorsements, but even hearing anecdotally about how enjoyable it was really wasn't enough to draw me in.

With a clean slate after E3 to play the recently-released sequel, however, I made time.

BoxBoxBoy! (3DS)
Developer: HAL Laboratory
Publisher: Nintendo
Released: June 30, 2016
MSRP: $4.99

After playing BoxBoxBoy! for five minutes I could see HAL Laboratory's sensibilities all over the place -- straightforward, one-to-two button gameplay mechanics, an easy-to-navigate hub world, and simple, yet endearing characters. They're all hallmarks of the studio's earlier work and I can appreciate the idea of going back to basics here.

It isn't difficult to describe what's going in BoxBoxBoy!. Players assume the role of Qbby (a box with legs), and make their way from start to finish through a series of individual levels, with optional collectibles (Crowns) to pick up. Qbby can manipulate the environment by way of creating boxes, which literally spring up from nothingness out of his own person. Depending on the stage, you can create two or more boxes at a time. And get this, the gimmick of the sequel? Players can create two sets of boxes!

It's silly for sure, but it works. Now all sorts of new possibilities open up, like creating a platform to ride on a conveyor belt, then crafting another platform on top of that to leap off of onto higher ground. There's also a few returning advanced tactics to take advantage of, like creating "hook" shapes to latch onto platforms to pull yourself up with. Imagine a Tetris shape and just about everything you could do with it -- that's what BoxBoxBoy! is going for.

While block creation is intuitive and relaxed (since there's rarely any incentive or need to rush), movement is not. Qbby can jump, but he isn't that nimble, and there were many times I couldn't reach a specific area because of how rigid the game's physics are. Platforming is secondary to the puzzle solving, but the frequent lack of smooth movements do eliminate a lot of potential solutions. To cut down on the frustration factor, there's myriad checkpoints in each puzzle, coupled with an instant quick reset feature (L+R), all with a complete lack of a timer. It's classic HAL Laboratory design.

Beyond the end goal and personal satisfaction gained from completing it, there isn't much to do in BoxBoxBoy!. You can enjoy a small set of comic strips (which are cute, but ultimately not worth going out of your way for), musical tracks, and costumes (if you own the original it allows you to import more outfits). That's basically it.

BoxBoxBoy! has a simplistic elegance to it. You can look at one screenshot or watch several seconds of video and understand what it's trying to convey. For that reason, it never really dives into new territory in any significant way, but it does everything so well that you won't really notice it. I'd love to see another iteration that takes the formula even further (BoxGirl?), and I hope this series continues to thrive on 3DS, which has fostered so many new and great IPs for Nintendo.


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BoxBoxBoy! reviewed by Chris Carter

7.5

GOOD

Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
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Chris Carter
Chris CarterReviews Director, Co-EIC   gamer profile

Chris has been enjoying Destructoid avidly since 2008. He finally decided to take the next step, make an account, and start blogging in January of 2009. Now, he's staff! ------------------- T... more + disclosures


 



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