HAL Laboratory and Nintendo have struck pure puzzling gold once again in the third iteration of the Boxboy series. With addictive puzzles, perfectly orchestrated level design and a most simple concept, Bye-bye Boxboy! is a stand-out title in the bloom of 2017 and an absolute must-have for the Nintendo 3DS.
Bye-Bye Boxboy! presents one of the simplest game styles and from boot-up, is glowing with minimalism. You are Qbby, a box with a primary goal: rid your world of darkness and evil. As Qbby sinks into the puzzle underworld, you are presented with a tutorial and preview of your adventure ahead. The key premise of Bye-bye Boxboy!, just as it were in its predecessors, is to spawn boxes to aid you through your journey. Each level has a box limit, which restricts the number of consecutive boxes you may call upon. As I stacked, shook, and built my boxes to zip to the finish line, the game honestly forces your body to act before your brain has finished its puzzle compute. A creative mind is encouraged, and it’s clear that the game was developed with this very much in mind.
As you progress through the many worlds of Qbby’s universe, you are introduced to fresh, fascinating new ways to manoeuvre your blocks and new types of blocks to add to your boxy bag of surprises. One trick, which I’ve crowned with the name, ‘Snaking’, allows you to build your path of boxes to a nearby ledge and be ‘transported’ and flung up to your last placed box. Another trick and box variant, known as the rocket box, allows you to place a box (or many) on ground level, and have it exuberantly blast you into the sky, allowing you to reach tough places. Each level I completed felt like a breath of fresh air. Every piece of puzzling mayhem has its own completely unique identity, using fire, gravity and teleportation to burst through the next door on your own terms.
Despite the 3DS and its slew of wonderful titles, there are very few games that ‘pick up and play’ as well as Bye-bye Boxboy!. Each level is meticulously designed, so much so that the timing of each level feels perfect. The balance of difficulty vs time to completion has been perfected here, with each level varying between one to five minutes. Much of my playthrough was during bus rides, car trips and lunches, and if I was found stuck in the middle of a level, it was a breeze to send my 2DS into sleep mode, place it down, and jump right back in to the action. This is just one of the many characteristics of Bye-bye Boxboy! that truly make it at home on a portable console.
In regards to difficulty, no level felt impossible. Some puzzles channelled my inner puzzler quicker than others, but at no point did I feel completely lost in a puzzle. I will admit that on several occasions, I called upon the hint system, which supplements each level at the exchange of Play Coins. It’s a helpful addition for those puzzles you may otherwise lose sleep over.
There is, to put it simply, so much to do in the world of Bye-bye Boxboy!. Once you’ve conquered over 12 worlds and a vast array of box types, you can check in to the store, which allows the player to exchange medals (earnt in each level and based on completion) to add additional content. There are extra challenges which can be bought, namely a ‘snaking only’ challenge which allows no stacking of boxes to make your way through each level, and even clothes, costumes and disguises to give Qbby a fresh, new personality. Many of the clothing items you can purchase are just downright hilarious and an overload of cuteness and silliness.
There is, surprisingly, Amiibo support, which makes a debut for the Boxboy series. The Qbby Amiibo (releasing in Australia on March 24th) can be used, as well as Meta Knight, Kirby, Waddle Dee and King Dedede to unlock new costumes and outfits. It’s a welcome inclusion and one we’d like to see more in digital game releases on the 3DS.
Graphics and Sound
For fans of the 8-bit and 16-bit era, Bye-bye Boxboy! is a title that I greatly encourage players to put on a pair of earphones and bask in the quirky but chirpy soundtrack. With chiptune throwbacks and the bleeps and bloops of yesteryear, many of the games’ tracks had my head bobbing and definitely aids the flow of the game. Despite its minimal visuals, the sounds of Bye-bye Boxboy! captured me in a tiny, simple world that the theme of the game portrays. Both the visuals and sound blend incredibly well together, despite the aging 3DS hardware.
While the visuals are minimal, it is evident that HAL Laboratories have opted for this approach, much like the series’ predecessors. It is worth noting that the art style is simple, yet boasts so much personality. Even at the beginning of the game, with no costumes or additional disguises, Qbby and his family felt like my own. It’s the true simplicity of the Boxboy series that brings me, and many others, back to the series for each iteration.
Bye-bye Boxboy! is a puzzling masterpiece. With endless replay value and a foray of shop items to spend your hard-earned medals on, HAL Laboratories’ latest title shines in almost every facet. To the minimal but charming visuals, catchy tunes and remarkable puzzle gameplay, Bye-bye Boxboy! is a must own on the 3DS and, in my opinion, one of the best titles on the platform.