Nintendo are perhaps best known for their character-led franchises, with the likes of Mario, Donkey Kong and Kirby being mainstays on Nintendo consoles for many years. One of their lesser-known stars is BoxBoy, who made his debut on the 3DS in 2015 and went on to star in two sequels, also on the 3DS. Developed by HAL Laboratory (creators of Kirby), the BoxBoy series were roundly praised by critics but despite this never caught on in a big way, perhaps due in part to only being available on the e-Shop outside of Japan. The latest title in the series, BoxBoy + BoxGirl, brings the character to the Switch for the first time and this time he’s bringing BoxGirl along for the ride, but is it worth playing? Read on to find out more.
BoxBoy! + BoxGirl!
Developed by Hal Laboratory
Published by Nintendo
Released: 17th April 2019
The premise of BoxBoy + BoxGirl! is a simple one, you play as either series regular Qbby (Box Boy) or his new companion, Qucy (Box Girl) and you must guide your chosen character through a series of short stages to reach a gate at the end. At first glance, BoxBoy + BoxGirl would appear to be a typical side-scrolling platformer, with players able to move left and right and jump across the stage. Yet the puzzle mechanics, which are key to the game’s premise, is where BoxBoy + BoxGirl really shines. Qbby and Qucy can produce boxes from their own bodies which, in their simplest form, allow the player to create bridges and steps to traverse these levels and reach the goal.
BoxBoy + BoxGirl’s main single-player mode, A Tale for One, is structured into 16 different worlds, each of which contains between 6 and 8 short stages. Each world introduces a new mechanic, such as the ability to hook onto ledges using boxes, or to bounce along surfaces like a pogo stick. Typically, the early stages in each world are quite simple, allowing the player to become familiar with the new mechanics, yet the challenge grows as you progress through the world and I often found myself stumped by around Stage 5. Previously learned mechanics aren’t neglected either and by World 16 you will find yourself relying on the repertoire of skills you have collected across the entire game in order to complete the stages successfully.
Although a Tale for One is only around 4-5 hours long (though your mileage may vary), the real challenge lies in completing each level using the least possible number of boxes, whilst also collecting hard to reach crowns scattered throughout the levels. Whilst these are not required to complete the game, they do generate a high score/ranking and reward the player with medals and coins which can be used to unlock new costumes and assist items, making level traversal easier. This also adds real replay value to the game, encouraging players to revisit levels and improve their score. Not only that, but BoxBoy + BoxGirl features two other modes. The first, A Tale for Two, is a co-operative multiplayer mode which allows you to play through a new series of levels with a friend. The other mode, A Tall Tale, lets you play as the rectangular Qudy, completing another set of stages which rely on his unique abilities. These additional modes result in a relatively lengthy game, with plenty to keep players occupied.
BoxBoy + BoyGirl isn’t without its flaws, the presentation is very simplistic, with basic visuals and sound which wouldn’t have been out of place on the Game Boy Advance. They’re certainly charming and I personally didn’t have any issues with them, but they might not be to everybody’s taste. The controls can also occasionally be frustrating, with Qbby and Qucy sometimes feeling unresponsive, whilst the physics behind throwing and jumping don’t seem to work consistently and can be hard to judge even hours into the game. Fortunately, the generous checkpointing alleviates any frustration this may have otherwise caused. I’d have also liked to have seen an option to play through A Tale for Two using online co-op, with the offering of local multiplayer only being something of a disappointment. Despite these flaws, BoxBoy + BoxGirl is an entertaining and charming puzzle-platformer and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it. It isn’t particularly revolutionary, but with a bite-size structure that’s perfectly suited to gaming on the go and 270+ levels on offer for just £8.99 it’s a worthy addition to anybody’s Nintendo Switch library.
Final Rating – 3.5 out of 5
I have been gaming for 30 years, starting mostly with PC Gaming, where I developed a penchant for classic point and click games. Over time I discovered Nintendo, starting with the Game Boy and the Super Mario Land games. Here, my love for Nintendo grew as I discovered many of their other franchises, from Zelda to Pokémon. These days I play a bit of everything but Nintendo and their unique creativity always keeps me coming back for more.