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Found 3 results

  1. Jonathan Higgins

    Review: BOXBOXBOY!

    Developer: HAL Laboratory Inc. Publisher: Nintendo Platform: 3DS (eShop) Release Date: June 30th, 2015 ESRB: E for Everyone As I watched the credits of BOXBOY! roll, my brain ping-ponged lots of ideas back and forth. The culmination of those ideas are in my review of the game. But, to summarize: I felt BOXBOY! was a little too restrained by its need to make sure newcomers understood the conventions of its puzzles. Entire worlds from the game felt like introductory levels. The training wheels didn“t really come off until its Bonus or Challenge Worlds, in particular. Going into BOXBOXBOY!, its sequel -- I felt as though it could benefit by accommodating returning players, by removing tutorial segments, and offering a greater challenge than what the first game provided before the credits rolled. Still, there“s nothing wrong with a sequel that doesn“t radically change or improve upon formulas established in the game that came before. “More BOXBOY!” -- even if it“s not different BOXBOY! -- would likely be perfectly satisfying to a large number of people. Thus, before I even get into my experience with the game -- I think it“s important to address what kind of sequel it is. A good contemporary example that comes to mind for me, personally, would be Mutant Mudds Super Challenge. That game“s basically a heavy metal version of the one that came before it. Someone playing it after the original Mudds won“t have to worry about new mechanics, but they may pick up a few new tricks. Less contemporary, but still relevant: Reflect upon the differences between Sonic the Hedgehog 2 and the game that came before that. The level design is mostly unchanged between the two games, and yet... the spin-dash is introduced, so returning players can rethink conventional Sonic gameplay with added momentum. BOXBOXBOY! is definitely the “Sonic 2” kind of sequel. As the name implies -- Qbby can create two sets of boxes to solve puzzles instead of just one. But ultimately... while “it“s just more BOXBOY” is a depressingly dry line to include in a review for the sequel... that“s a fairly accurate assessment, in this case. There are even instances where the player creates two sets of boxes to solve puzzles in the bonus worlds of BOXBOY!. Do realize: beyond a single exception I“ll highlight a little later on, there is nothing else “brand new” introduced in BOXBOXBOY! before the credits roll. The introductory world is a tutorial one, that explains the same exact things you did in the first game. Each world that follows reintroduces old mechanics and enemies from BOXBOY!, but this time you need to use more than one set of boxes to reach your goal. The crowns from the first game return. Costume and music collecting in exchange for currency earned by completing levels also returns. One nice touch I“ll mention that few sequels employ: If you own and have completed the original BOXBOY!, you can use all of your unlocked costumes, including the Bunny Costume that extends Qbby“s jump beyond his natural capabilities -- right from the start of BOXBOXBOY!. But, when describing the overall philosophy and mechanics presented to the player, it“s basically just a series of examples I can point out that were roughly the same in the first game. Levels are a bit more challenging this time, but there was nothing too vexing or new to figure out. Lots of the approaches to puzzle-solving involve timing, too. You'll run into plenty of instances where the boxes you place will activate a switch that opens a door, and you'll have to skitter through it before it closes behind you. All it amounts to are subtle shifts in tone. There“s nothing wrong with the decisions HAL Laboratory made here. But there“s nothing really new about them either. Creating more than one set of boxes to solve puzzles does create instances where the player will have to think a bit harder to reach the goal, though. And BOXBOXBOY! has comics to collect that give its characters a little more personality than BOXBOY! had the opportunity to. The story“s a little odd, though. I“m not really sure if I could tell you what went on, from start to finish, but hey, it was still interesting enough. The few new musical tracks were just as catchy as the older ones, but there“s nothing revolutionary about its arrangements, either. Whether I“m addressing aspects of its presentation or its nuts and bolts on the inside -- ”more of the same” is universally applicable. Except... ...hey, this game“s Challenge World forces you to complete levels in certain costumes! If you avoided the complexities of some of BOXBOY!“s Bonus World puzzles by putting on the Bunny Costume and extending your natural jump -- this game has an entire set of levels where you play through them in the Bunny Costume. So you“ve got to solve puzzles with a naturally higher jump. In terms of innovation, it“s all found either in the Challenge World, where forced costume changes make you to rethink its conventions a little bit -- or after the credits roll, in the Bonus Worlds. ...I know, even that is a paradigm consistent with the first one. “It“s more of the same thing, with a few subtle or more challenging differences” is truly the best way to summarize BOXBOXBOY!. But, while my opinion of what the game “should have been” ultimately clashes with what I was presented with here -- the level design is still competent and fun, and (especially considering you can bring over the costumes from the first game, and other fodder) I still think it“s worth the small asking price. BOXBOXBOY! is the perfect reminder that “more of the same” isn“t really a bad thing. Pros + If BOXBOXBOY! is the first game you've played of the two, you won't really feel lost going in. Everything is still paced leisurely. Definitely accessible. + Some of the new puzzles offer satisfying design choices that require more skill than some present in the first game. + Any sequel that lets you transfer content over from the first game already has a leg up over some contemporaries. Cons - With the exception of the Challenge World, no concept, enemy or type of puzzle is new to BOXBOXBOY!. Even the idea of using more than one set of boxes was seen in the first game. - Some may feel it's disappointingly lean in comparison to the first. BOXBOY! has 22 Worlds -- BOXBOXBOY! has 17, including the Challenge World. Overall Score: 7.5 (out of 10) Good BOXBOXBOY! is a sequel that chooses not to innovate or reinvent the wheel that started turning in the first game. Sometimes more of something good isn't necessarily a bad thing. Disclosure: This game was reviewed using a copy of the game purchased by the author
  2. Jonathan Higgins

    Review: BOXBOY!

    Developer: HAL Laboratory Inc. Publisher: Nintendo Platform: 3DS (eShop) Release Date: April 2nd, 2015 ESRB: E for Everyone HAL Laboratory has come a long way since the late eighties. Most known for the Kirby series, as well as their involvement in both Super Smash Bros. and EarthBound/MOTHER, the development team has proven their mastery of both simple and complex ideas over the years. BOXBOY!, their newest game, takes a simple premise and shows you how complex it can be. It may be the game“s black and white visual aesthetics getting the better of me and making me nostalgic for Kirby“s beginnings... but I feel like BOXBOY! could be the next great property for Nintendo and HAL to grow together, similar to Pushmo or The Denpa Men. Are you a fan of minimalist games like Thomas Was Alone or Ibb and Obb? Just a quick look at the game“s visuals, before you even start to examine anything else, will prove that HAL isn“t exactly pushing the 3DS to its limits with this experience. BOXBOY!“s presentation is very simple to summarize. You“ll be lucky to see more than three colors in the game (black, white, and gray), and the music is less about epic, orchestral medleys and more likely to be described as a series of catchy beeps and whirs. It handles narrative without a single word, too. I wouldn“t even have known the main character“s name was Qbby if I didn“t check the manual or see it on the first level. Still, despite being wordless, the narrative is very charming overall. When it comes to minimalist puzzle-platformers, the gameplay is certainly what matters the most. And thankfully, it“s where BOXBOY! absolutely shines. Qbby has a decent range of movement (you control him with either the joystick or the directional-pad), and he can jump a short distance as well. What makes BOXBOY a puzzle game, though, is how you use Qbby“s ability to make boxes appear from himself. Need to reach a high spot, but can“t quite reach it by jumping alone? Make a box appear, solidify it, and suddenly Qbby has something to jump on! These boxes can be duplicated a limited number of times (it varies from stage to stage), but be careful not to exceed your available boxes before you get all of a stage“s crowns! If you do, they disappear, and you can“t get a Perfect. What are crowns? If you manage to obtain all of them for a Perfect rank, the game awards you with extra currency you can spend buying costumes for Qbby, as well as music, extra challenge stages (including time attack, score attack, and more difficult objectives), and even tips and tricks. Costumes start out as purely aesthetic in nature (the designs are pretty charming... imagine a BoxKnight), but in the late-gate, costumes start enhancing Qbby“s abilities (such as a Bunny costume that gives Qbby a larger jump distance, and more). Over seventeen worlds with anywhere from five to eight stages, BOXBOY! offers a steady incline as far as difficulty goes. It does a really good job of showing you how to achieve its objectives, and the many interesting ways that boxes can be used to get Qbby where he needs to go. Things happen that you wouldn't expect, like being able to create a three box (two up, one right) “hook” that hooks Qbby onto a high cliff, then allows him to propel himself to the top of it from there when he“s hooked. The gameplay got a lot more complex than I ever thought it would. While I found myself moving at a leisurely pace during the five, maybe six hours I played through it before seeing the credits...the endgame got pretty tricky! If a level“s mechanics do prove to go slightly over your head, you can spend a single Play Coin (the coins awarded to you for traveling/walking with your 3DS) to get an in-game Hint that visually shows you what combination of blocks is required to get Qbby where he needs to go. And unlike most games, BOXBOY! doesn't punish you for using its Hint system. You can still get every single unlockable and get 100% completion, even if you choose to spend a Play Coin in every single level! BOXBOY!“s only flaw is that it feels like the beginning of something versus a complete, cohesive experience. Even with all its extra content—as far as the main story goes—the levels feel like they introduce cool ideas, but don“t really do much with them. The Last World offers a cohesive “look at all you“ve learned for the last sixteen worlds” experience, but beyond that you“ll rarely see a concept introduced in one world used in the next. Still, the game is $4.99, and you“re given the option to send a demo to a friend. I think BOXBOY! is meant to introduce the next new idea from Nintendo/HAL. It doesn“t do a ton, but it“s not at a price where I would expect a ton. All in all, I“d say this game is worth spending the money on. It“s the kind of puzzling fun that leaves you wanting more, but better for having experienced it. Pros + Gameplay is fun and intuitive, and introduces a wide variety of features that diversify an otherwise simple premise. + The game will never punish you for getting stuck, and all of its extra content (whether fun or useful) is relatively simple to obtain. Cons - The game's length isn't necessarily to its detriment, but many ideas are simply introduced instead of expanded upon as they should be. Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great BOXBOY! could be the next great property for Nintendo and HAL to grow together. Disclosure: This game was purchased by the author of this review.
  3. Many of Nintendo's franchises have made the jump to 3D gameplay over the last 18 years or so, but if there's one major series that hasn't gotten the chance yet, it's Kirby. Even with the pink puffball's recent release, Kirby Triple Deluxe, the main series remains a 2D affair, with the exception of Kirby Air Ride, a Gamecube racing spin-off. However, in a recent interview with VG24/7, Hal Laboratory's Shinya Kumazaki has stated that a 3D Kirby game is a possibility down the road, saying: "We“re really interested in making a fully 3D Kirby game! I suspect there are also more than a few users who“d appreciate being able to freely run around a sprawling map, fighting with copy abilities." This actually isn't the first time HAL Laboratory has explored the idea of a 3D Kirby game either. In an Iwata Asks interview from several years ago, HAL explained that they had worked on three different Kirby gameplay concepts over an 11-year period that were eventually scrapped. One of them actually involved a 3D playing field, but the game never reached the quality they were hoping for and was thus thrown out. One of HAL's lost Kirby games Still, one has to wonder if they could have revived the concept for their next console Kirby game (whether it's on Wii U or perhaps the Nintendo's inevitable next console). Only time will tell. Source: VG24/7 (via Nintendo Enthusiast) Would you be interested in playing a Kirby game with 3D gameplay?
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