Box Boy! made it’s console debut on Nintendo Switch last month. One of Nintendo’s newer and less recognisable franchises but one that’s worthy of your attention.
Box Boy! and Box Girl! will be the fourth instalment in the franchise but will provide a perfect entry point to the series.
Here are four reasons why the charming puzzle-platformer would make the perfect addition to any Switch library.
It’s a New Series from HAL Laboratory
Nintendo frequently outsources their prized franchises to smaller studios under the one banner of quality. And one of the most significant of those studios is HAL Laboratory who’ve been working for Japanese gaming giant since 1986.
HAL Laboratory is, in fact, the studio behind some of Nintendo’s most iconic franchises including Kirby, Super Smash Bros. and Earthbound. The little pink puffball should need no introduction being Nintendo fifth best-selling mascot.
Ignoring obvious frontrunners Super Mario, Legend of Zelda and Pokemon, only Donkey Kong has shifted more units for Nintendo. Making his debut in 1992 Kirby has appeared in over 30 mainline games, selling over 38 million copies.
Earthbound (or Mother) may be a less familiar title but is held in high esteem amongst RPG fans. Most gamers would probably recognise protagonist Ness though, a staple of the Super Smash Bros. series or numerous creepypastas about horrifying main antagonist Giygas.
There were only ever three games in the Mother series, the last of which came in 2006. Kirby and Super Smash Bros. have been mainstays of Nintendo though, meaning HAL Laboratory do not often develop new series’.
The last significant games to come from HAL Laboratory outside of those series were Pokemon Stadium and Pokemon Snap for the N64. That’s going all the way back to the turn of the millennium right up until 2013 when first Box Boy! appeared as an e-shop exclusive.
Box Boy! is a Critical Hit
Nintendo considers their mark of quality to be a significant selling point of their franchises. So much so that they recently cancelled arguably their most highly-anticipated release of this year, Metroid Prime 4 because it didn’t live up to those standards.
Even though Box Boy! is a smaller franchise, it still gets the same keen eye cast over it. And it’s produced one of the best puzzle-platformer series currently on the market. Box Boy! received positive reviews across the board averaging a respectable 80/100 on Metacritic.
The game was followed up by Box Box Boy! and Bye Bye Box Boy! that both added new features to the series. The sequels were equally well received and improved on some of the shortcomings in the initial release.
Box Boy! Level Design
The studio went for a minimalist art style in a throwback to the Gameboy graphics on which Kirby first appeared. It was also a style born out of practicality as series creator Yasuhiro Mukae had never designed a game prior to Box Boy!
When he presented the mock-up at HAL Laboratory studio they enjoyed the concept so much the entire game was built around straight lines. It actually created a simple but striking and very satisfying design.
HAL Laboratory also tinkered with the idea of adding Kirby to the game for some star power. Put the concentric shape of the hero proved too jarring and thus his straight-edged counterpart Qbby was created. The team worked hard animating the expressive eyes of Qbby to add some depth and character which really paid off.
Gameplay is Varied and Challenging
Gameplay consists of a simple loop of introducing and perfecting new mechanics. Levels are split into separate worlds with each world containing a new unique mechanic. As the series progressed new blocks were added like bomb blocks and rocket-propelled blocks.
Beyond that, it’s your basic puzzle-platformer objective of getting from point A to point B whilst navigating obstacles. Qbby can extend his body and produce a set number of blocks to build shapes and complete challenges.
Each world starts with simple tutorial tasks but moves into diverse and steep difficulty curves. It is frankly amazing the variety of puzzles that can be produced from the simple concept. Individual levels are also brief and regularly checkpointed to reduce frustration in a perfect blend of challenge and fun.
Box Boy! and Box Girl! will also be the first game in the series to feature couch co-op, something the team have worked on since the first instalment. With the benefit of console play and over 280 levels to master, it will be well worth the price tag.