Box Boy and Simplicity


Box. Boy.

From the name alone, you can pretty much imagine what Qbby looks like, and his primary power.

I spent the past month slowly working through the first game in this trilogy, collected in the BoxBoy Collection that was released in Japan. It’s a fairly standard puzzler, but being a person not quite so intelligently gifted I ended up needing to use hints a fair bit. There. Review over.

Well, not quite.

I actually want to praise the game’s use of simple graphics, music and features. There are no colors other than black and white in this game. Qbby’s design in a way is purely functional, a method of easily deducing how much space is needed to fill in gaps or calculating jump height. At the same time though it harkens back to the simplicity of HAL Laboratory’s other designs, including the famous blob character, Kirby. HAL has quite a knack for designing ‘shape’-ly characters, it seems.

The music repeats quite quickly and does not offer much variance, aside from the shop theme which is cheery and tonally upbeat. This would normally be a demerit in my eyes in another genre, but it does lend itself to mental gymnastics quite well. The extra features in this game are also bought using in game currency and give a variety of things including tips and a Time Trial mode (…Really?) which while not distracting you from the main task of completing puzzles, and the story, still go a long way into making the game feel barren. Contrast Shifting World, which I felt was a little bit too barebones.

Finally, the simple but touching story. Communicated without any sort of dialog box (although cinematics exist), it goes well with the world map, which has large monuments that serve as waypoints to make you continue forward. While the campaign is short, fitting for an originally download-only title, it is poignant and does not go on longer than necessary.

Boasting simple-looking complex puzzles, BoxBoy was a great game that squares off nicely against some other puzzlers that I’ve played in my gaming life.



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