Damn it feels good to be a Boxboy.
BoxBoxBoy, sequel to the well-received 2015 3DS eShop game BoxBoy, picks up immediately after the original. The heroic Qbby and his friends are sleeping in a field, and Qbby is dreaming about box puzzles. Fantastic box puzzles.
Qbby travels by creating sets of boxes – this time two sets at a time – as stairs, platforms, switch-pressers, and more. He’s incredibly satisfying to control and can move around in ways that you wouldn’t think of at first glance. The main set of levels introduces a new concept in each world, like sticky walls, conveyor belts, or ledge grabbing. Each level requires a bit more thinking than the one before, but none of them are hard to complete, with most completion times lasting less than a minute. BoxBoxBoy’s challenge comes from collecting the crowns in each level. Qbby has an unlimited number of boxes, but creating too many boxes will cause the crowns to disappear. The crowns all take an extra bit of thinking, but only a few got me really angry. I felt really pleased with myself when I found a way to trim a box or two from my solution in order to keep the crowns from disappearing.
After the credits roll, BoxBoxBoy truly begins. A set of bonus worlds opens up, most combining a handful of concepts from the story levels. These levels made the campaign feel like a tutorial. Some of these levels took me the better part of an hour each to complete, and I had to use a few "hints" (paying a Play Coin to just get the answer) just to complete some of them. I found myself replaying these levels in my head while away from them, trying to figure out how to get those crowns.
The music and visuals are a perfect match for the gameplay, with the complexity of the puzzles against the black-and-white art style keeping me focused. Collecting crowns unlocks costumes and comics, but the new costumes didn’t impress me, as all of the cool ones are the returning ones from the first game, which are only unlockable by playing the first game. It’s nice that they carry over, but new players like me get stuck with a small selection of less-enticing costumes. 100%-ing the game unlocks the most beautiful costume I’ve ever seen, but there was no point in replaying after that other than beating my times. The comics add some depth to the world, and a few of them made me genuinely chuckle, but I was able to read all of them in under a minute.
I didn’t feel lost jumping in with BoxBoxBoy, but the game does feel like a true sequel. The story is super simple, and the world is really bare. I enjoyed my time with the game, though. It is a perfect example of how great game design will trump graphics and hardware innovations every time. BoxBoxBoy might be a must-buy, but it does feel like DLC for a game I’ve never played.