When the Boxboy series first broke onto the scene back in 2015 on the Nintendo DS, it innovated a new and interesting way of puzzles in gaming. It took a simple art style and easy enough concept and accelerated it to 100, finding bizarre ways for the user to use what would otherwise be a surface level mechanic. This mechanic was simple but interesting, being sprouting other boxes off of a character to go around obstacles and levels. In this it introduced a charming little boxed character by the name of Qbby, who would even go on to get several other series titles as well as Trophy cameos in popular Nintendo giant Super Smash Brothers. Now, Qbby has his turn on the Nintendo Switch! Only, he hasn’t come alone…
The game gives you three campaigns: A Tale for One, the traditional single player experience of Boxboy while A Tale for Two offers something new to the table, with the control of the two lead box characters in the level, even offering co-operative play. The last campaign, A Tall Tale will see players controlling a Tall rectangular shaped box character in order to solve new puzzles in exciting and unique ways. With 270 levels spread across these 3 campaigns, it is clear developer HAL Laboratory is intent on delivering the player a long and varied experience, and deliver they did.
Across BOXBOY! +BOXGIRL!’s traditional campaign, the player will solve puzzles in creative, surprising and sometimes even seemingly impossible ways. This is okay, for this was HAL Laboratory’s vision. Make no mistake: despite its simplified art style that feels very reminiscent of early flash games, this is a game that was made with concision and a great amount of care. This holds true to some of the bizarre obstacles in levels you’ll face including careful manoeuvring around spikes, bypassing lasers, using a box formation to hook onto ledges and even experimentation with zero gravity.
“…This is a game made with concision and a great amount of care.”
As for the game’s difficulty, it won’t be long before levels are faced that leave players wanting to tear their hair out. All of this is in fun though, BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! offers incentives for journeying on. This is done through a shop that offers collectibles, wacky cosmetics and pieces of the soundtrack, all purchasable only with in-game currency (Medals) that are regularly rewarded to the player upon finishing levels. It’s hard to take out your anger on the game when before long Qbby is customised with a duck face, wizard’s hat and a sailor suit. Even if this customisation doesn’t tickle players’ fancy hints and aids can be bought to help the player learn how to proceed. Most of the fun is had with doing this sparingly though, as a lot of joy comes out of challenging yourself to not submit to these easy aids and tips.
The two new game modes or campaigns are welcome additions that breathe fresh air into the Boxboy franchise. A Tale for Two excels at the unique way it uses the two characters to work together to complete levels. Co-operative play in this sense works great and seamlessly while unfortunately a single person in this scenario can at times feel tedious. A lot of swapping back and forth and hiking to the other character can prevent the player from enjoying the story. However, this is the best that can be done with such a mechanic model and because of this it is never unforgivable.
As for A Tall Tale, it is an unabashedly zany and ridiculous experience. Bending and flipping Qudy, the tall boxed protagonist, provides a lot of fun and laughable ways at solving puzzles. It’s moments like ducking and diving your way under small gaps only to make the jump to zero gravity that prove this game is unbelievably charming.
The Bottom Line
BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! is at its best when it is not taken seriously. There are periods throughout the game where wild concept after wild concept are thrown at the individual who must just accept it and go with it. This boxy puzzler is truly one of a kind, the only question is: are you along for the ride?