Last year, HAL Laboratory treated us to a lighthearted puzzle platformer that was one of the true gems of 2015 on the 3DS. That game was BOXBOY!, a fun and simple puzzle game that had us controlling Qbby, a sentient square with the ability to spawn boxes from his body. BOXBOY! had us dropping, pushing and throwing boxes in order to save Qbby’s square planet. Solving puzzles with Qbby was a true delight, and HAL Laboratory is giving us another delightful trip to Qbby’s world in BOXBOXBOY!.
A new angle
Qbby’s next foray into saving this world of 90 degree angles starts almost directly where his first adventure left off. A mysterious black, white, and green entity sends Qbby to another dimension, where completing worlds will construct portals in the sky that will pull his friends, Qucy and Qudy, along with treasure chests through to this new world. It’s fun to see Qbby’s friends show up in the sequel, but they are once again relegated to standing around in the hub world instead of being able to help you out in any real capacity. I went into BOXBOXBOY! hoping to see them offer some new and unique skills, and came out disappointed on that front. Maybe they’ll be utilized more in some sort of spin-off down the line, or if HAL Laboratory ever releases BOXBOXBOXBOY!.
This new world that Qbby is sent to is less linear than the world in the original BOXBOY!, with multiple worlds, playable in any order, opening up almost every time a portal is completed. The main story worlds are one area where BOXBOXBOY! falls just a little short of it’s predecessor. There are 11 worlds, plus a costume-focused challenge world, to play through in the main game. This falls a surprising six worlds short of the 17 main story worlds in the original BOXBOY!, which actually ended up disappointing me a little. While there are some post-game stages to complete, I would have liked the main game to be just a little longer.
More boxes, more problems (to solve)
What BOXBOXBOY! lacks in length, it sure makes up for in difficulty, and it does so almost straight away. Qbby is armed with the ability to create two sets of boxes this time around, and the stages are definitely designed in a way that makes clever use of Qbby’s new power instead of making it feel like a simple gimmick. The most welcome change, for me, was that the beginning puzzles start off immediately more difficult than the early stages of the first game, where it felt like your hand was held for just a little too long in the early worlds only to slightly crank up the difficulty once you got to the last couple stages. Instead, BOXBOXBOY! starts off pretty puzzling, and increases the difficulty at a much steadier pace than BOXBOY!. That isn’t to say that early stages are going to be hard or challenging for newcomers or younger players; in fact, the first puzzle that truly, well, puzzled me was in the second stage of World 6, about halfway through the main game. Later in the game, there were three or four puzzles that actually caused me to set down my 3DS and step away for a few minutes because I was so stumped.
The crown prince of cubes
For a little added difficulty, collectible crowns have returned to each stage as well. As in the first game, you will need to collect all the crowns while staying within your box limit. Exceed that limit, and the crowns become grayed out and are unable to be collected. Fear not though, because BOXBOXBOY!’s box limits seem to be more generous than they were in the first game; in early stages I frequently found myself with a large number of boxes left available to me when I reached the last crown in each stage. The higher box limit often felt like a waste, and contradicted the challenging aspects of some stages. While obtaining each crown will require some outside-the-box thinking, they aren’t impossible to collect. Only one crown in the entire main game, the final crown of stage 11-5, still eludes my reach, and I don’t have the heart to look up a solution (yet).
Box box bonuses
Returning from the first game, quite literally, in some cases, are bonus costumes and music tracks, along with a new bonus category: comics! All these bonuses are purchasable with medals, the in-game currency collected by Qbby as he completes stages. In addition to new costumes for Qbby, any costumes you’ve unlocked in the first game will carry over into BOXBOXBOY!, and will be immediately available from the start of the game. This includes any costumes that grant Qbby extra powers, such as the ninja costume (which allows allows Qbby to run), or a bunny costume (which allows him to jump higher than normal). The challenge world – unlocked about halfway through the game – has several stages that require the use of many of these costumes to complete them and collect all their crowns. The music bonuses are largely the same mechanic as in the first game, you can spend your credits on select tracks to play in a sound test mode. The comics feature Qbby and his friends on different adventures, and one comic even features a special guest from another HAL Laboratory series. Any guesses on who it is?
Closing the lid
All in all, our second trip to Qbby’s square planet was more enjoyable, though shorter, than the first. BOXBOXBOY! is definitely one of my favorite 3DS games to come out of 2016 so far, and I’m going to have a great time going back to adventure with Qbby, collecting every last crown and beating every challenge. With more abilities, harder puzzles, and fun extras, HAL Laboratory has another gem on its hands. Let’s hope this isn’t the last we see of Qbby and company!Leave a Comment
System: Nintendo 3DS
Release date: June 30, 2016
Categories: Puzzles, Strategy
Developer: HAL Laboratory