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Boxboy proves it's fun to be square

Apr 15, 2015

By Daniel Barron - G4 Canada

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BOXBOY!The creators of the Kirby series have really switched things up for their latest creation, a game known simply as Boxboy. They've gone from a hero who's round, pink, and uses his appetite to solve his problems, to a black-and-white cube who employs some sort of box mitosis to get through his brain-bending adventure.

Boxboy follows the exploits of Qbby, who as his name suggests, is a simple black and white cube. The game's premise is simple enough - enter a level, and get from one end to the next, and try to grab special crowns along the way. How you traverse the levels is an entirely different matter.

You see, Qbby isn't the most athletic protagonist in the world of video games, so even simple hazards such as a small pit can prove to be impassable. Luckily, Qbby is able to grow additional cubes from his body, and placing them in just the right way will allow him to get past anything that stands in his way.

BOXBOY!You can get over a wall, for instance, by creating three boxes in the shape of stairs. A laser that's able to kill Qbby instantly, meanwhile, can be blocked by simply sprouting a single box in front of Qbby and used as a shield.

These of course are very basic puzzles in the game. While I was able to get past most of the puzzles in the first 10 or so stages fairly easily, the difficulty ramps up quickly after that. Most of the initial 17 stages each feature a different stage mechanic. One includes Portal-like clouds that allow boxes to be dropped from one part of the level and appear somewhere else. Another stage incorporates conveyer belts that push Qbby and his boxes in different directions.

While each of these stages offered their own neat twist on puzzle-solving, I found I completed them just as I was getting warmed up to their difficulty and idiosyncrasies. I was worried the developers would just ignore the obvious and not have stages that combined two or more of these mechanics, but fortunately you will be rewarded as long as you press on to the final few stages.

BOXBOY!Boxboy doesn't seem particularly lengthy at first glance, but there really are a lot of levels, and again, the later ones will have you working for a while to figure out their solutions.

The game also features unlockable Time Attack and Score Attack levels, both of which are a lot of fun and are bound to add a few hours to the player who wants to beat everything the game offers. Costumes can also be unlocked, and it's worth doing so, not just for the laughs they provide (seeing Qbby dressed up as a wizard with a giant moustache is all kinds of funny), but because certain costumes offer special powers, which can aid players who are having trouble with particular levels.

Players can also use 3DS Play Coins to get hints on how to solve puzzles. It's a wonderful feature because it's completely optional, but a big help for those who need a gentle nudge in the right direction (yes, I used a few myself throughout the game).

BOXBOY!My list of complaints is short, and really, none of my issues came close to affecting my overall enjoyment of Boxboy. I was a little disappointed that the game doesn't have any 3D effects whatsoever. I also found the soundtrack to be a little disappointing. The game's presentation, which features so much white, actually hurt my eyes when my 3DS was set to the highest brightness setting, which is the setting I prefer. That was solved, though, by simply turning the brightness down a couple of notches.

I really do commend the developers of Boxboy for focusing on excellent puzzles above all else. There are absolutely no fancy graphical gimmicks on display here, which is a breath of fresh air in a world where high-definition and photorealism seem to be the be-all-and-end-all.

It may have one of the most stripped-down aesthetics of any game released in recent memory, but if anything, that just shows the developer's faith in the gameplay. There's no eye candy to hide behind here, and Boxboy proves it has the goods - that much is black and white.

 

BOXBOY!
Format: Nintendo 3DS
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: HAL Laboratory, Inc.
ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
Official Site: http://boxboy.nintendo.com/

Rating: 9 / 10

 
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About G4 in Canada
G4 Canada (formerly TechTV Canada) launched in September 2001. G4 is the one and only television station that is plugged into every dimension of games, gear, gadgets and gigabytes. Owned Rogers Media Inc., the channel airs more than 24 original series. G4 is available on digital cable and satellite. For more information, see www.g4tv.ca.