Boxboy! is the newest game from HAL Laboratory, Inc. When it comes to Nintendo games, HAL Laboratory, Inc. (株式会社ハル研究所) is a legendary name. Since it was founded in 1980, HAL has developed games for almost every Nintendo platform that has been released. They are best known for the Kirby series, The Mother (Earthbound) series, and the Super Smash Bros. series. They are also the minds behind beloved titles like Pokémon Stadium, Pokémon Snap, and Vegas Stakes. Needless to say, expectations are usually pretty high when HAL makes a game.
HAL’s latest definitely deserves its place alongside the greatest masterpieces that HAL has created. The game itself is simple: the player controls Qbby, a small box that has the ability to create boxes that, if space permits, can come out of any of Qbby’s four sides. These blocks are used to solve puzzles and collect crowns. In fact, the first few levels feel almost too simple. However, as the game continues, Qbby learns more ways to use the boxes that it creates. For example, Qbby can “snake” through small passages by traversing the passageway with boxes and then sliding to the space that the final box lays on. Qbby can also stick to certain sections of walls and floors.
Boxboy! looks like a Game Boy game. Everything is in greyscale and the music is a soothing, nostalgic kind of chiptune. Not only does it look like a classic, but it plays like one, too. There are no complicated plot lines no flashy graphics – Boxboy! is a pure puzzler where pressure levels are low and fun levels are high. There is no consequence for death, and the player can restart from the last checkpoint with an easy press of the two 3DS trigger buttons. Qbby can also restart from the very beginning of any level.
This game isn’t just about puzzles, though. There is a lot of strategy involved. In each stage, there is a different limit on how many boxes Qbby can create at once. Only one set of boxes can be in the level at any given time, so if Qbby begins creating a new structure, the one that has already been placed will disappear. If the player is having trouble with any given puzzle, they can exchange a Play Coin for a hint that will remain available until the level has been completed.
In each level there are a number of crowns – black tokens that Qbby must collect to earn a perfect score. This is where the most strategy in the game arrives. Each level has a counter that keeps track of how many boxes you create. Each time a box is created, the number decreases by however many boxes were used. If Qbby uses more boxes than the number on the touch screen displays, the black crown icon will turn grey and will be unobtainable. This brings an element of resource management to the game. If you want to collect everything, you can’t just use box haphazardly – each box counts, and your box counter saves at each checkpoint. If you realize that you made a mistake at the first part of the stage but you’re past the second checkpoint, Qbby will have to start the entire level over again if you want to obtain the crown.
Is Boxboy! ridiculously simple and old-fashioned? Yes, but it still feels fresh. I’ve played a lot of puzzlers, and this game genuinely brings something new to the table. If you have a 3DS and $4.99 to spend, you can’t go wrong with Boxboy! What do you think about the game? Have you played it? Do you plan on downloading it? Sound off in the comments and keep checking back with Load The Game for more video game news.