Nintendo’s BoxBoy! series of 2D puzzlers should really have been given more attention over the years. A 3DS exclusive, each of the first two games offered a fun and mind bending experience, with a unique minimalist look and feel. Now we’re launching head first into the third and final game in the series, Bye-Bye Boxboy! Thankfully it once again delivers a fun and engaging puzzle game, though those who’ve stuck it out for the first two games will find the opening a bit dull.
In Bye-Bye BoxBoy! you once again take on several levels filled with puzzles. To solve them you create boxes, which can be used as stairs, platforms, or a sort of teleportation device. Creating boxes is easy, just holding a button and pressing where you want the new one to form, but there are restrictions. Each level has a set number that can be made at once, and you can only create one set at a time, so new ones cause the old to disappear. On top of this, the new game adds some interesting mechanics, such as bombs and companions called Qbabies, which get introduced in their own specialized levels.
The new boxes add some depth to the game, giving you new ways to solve more unique puzzles. They blend seamlessly with BoxBoy’s previous abilities, and allow you to stretch your puzzle solving abilities a bit more. The Qbabies change things up a bit more, tasking you with getting yourself and them through certain levels, sometimes on different paths that have to be worked through simultaneously.
Gameplay is the focus here, and gameplay is where this series has excelled
Bye-Bye BoxBoy! surely has a story of some kind, but this series is so minimalist that even its cutscenes are short and to the point. Your BoxBoy, a two dimensional being who goes around creating squares that help you solve puzzles. Why are you doing this? Cause someone needs you to, it seems. It honestly doesn’t matter much at all, the point is that you’re back at it, solving puzzles and exploring short, 2D levels.
Gameplay is the focus here, and gameplay is where this series has excelled. It’s so simple, in fact I bet this game could run on my old TI-83 calculator without much effort. But that simplicity is exactly what fans have come to expect from this series, and Bye-Bye BoxBoy! hits it perfectly once again. After a short tutorial you’re tossed into the world, with a series of levels laid out before you that offer both increasing difficulty, and new gameplay mechanics.
The difficulty increase is a bit slow to kick in though, and if you’ve played the previous games you’ll likely be able to blast through the opening few levels without any effort at all. Even far into the game you’ll find it pretty easy to get a perfect run through each and every level, with the only challenge coming in if you want to collect all the unlockables. Newcomers though will likely find the difficulty curve well managed, as new stuff is introduced on a regular basis, with the game giving you ample time to figure out how it works before hitting you with a true challenge.
The unlockables are pretty much the only thing that adds to the base gameplay experience. Each level has a few crowns to collect, which you can only do if you stay below the limit on number of boxes created. Collecting these will give you a bonus at the end of the level, just as it has in the previous games. You can then use this currency to purchase various outfits for BoxBoy, along with some other collectibles. The added challenge of the box limit is nice, and definitely helps with the opening levels easy difficulty. It gives experienced players something to strive for without directly getting in the way of less skilled puzzlers.
Outside of that, Bye-Bye BoxBoy! is a minimalist experience in every single way. The visuals are flat, 2D and almost entirely colorless. The audio is fun and catchy, but nothing that you’ll be humming to yourself later on. It’s all about getting players into the levels, solving puzzles quickly, and it does this expertly. It should, as this is the third time Nintendo has done this, but it’s still important to keep in mind when diving into the game.
You don’t buy Bye-Bye BoxBoy! for the story, the graphics, or pretty much anything beyond jumping on and solving some quick and fun puzzles. Luckily those puzzles are fun to solve, and there’s a ton of them in here. For the price, there are few games that offer up this much fresh, interesting, and easy to digest content.
It’s so easy to pop open my 3DS, play through a level or two, and then step away. Bye-Bye BoxBoy! has few issues with forgetting the main mechanics, though some of the strategies might slip your mind if you’re away too long. What does happen often is that players will overthink things, trying to find some elaborate solution when all it actually takes is simply a few boxes in the right place. This isn’t a knock against the game, just something that happens often with these sorts of experiences.
Bye-Bye BoxBoy! is a fantastic conclusion to a vastly underappreciated series of puzzle games. The 3DS is sailing off into the sunset soon, and with games like Bye-Bye BoxBoy! it will be sorely missed. If you haven’t jumped onto this series yet then now is the time to start, either with this title or either of its predecessors. The game is beautiful in its simplicity, and delivers a solid amount of puzzles to work through, even though it might take a while to hit the tougher ones.