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BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! Review

Bye bye 3DS, hello Switch

by Kyle Hanson

The death of the BoxBoy! series has been rescinded, it seems. Following the release of Bye-Bye BoxBoy! on the 3DS, everyone felt that the franchise was finished. After three solid puzzle experiences on Nintendo’s dying handheld the titular square hero rode off into the sunset. But then the Switch came, and now Nintendo is diving back into the puzzle filled 2D world with BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! As the title suggests, the hero isn’t alone this time, adding co-op levels along with a standard single player campaign. The result is a great and expansive new adventure, though it has some speedbumps for longtime fans that might turn them off.

Much like the visuals, the story of BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! is pretty much as minimal as it gets. You play as Qbby, he has a partner named Qucy, and they have children…somehow. They live in a 2D world that is filled with puzzles. Something’s gone wrong, so you have to solve those puzzles to continue and save your children or other square entities. Despite this being the fourth entry, the franchise hasn’t ever really tried to tell a cohesive story full of characters and intrigue. It’s just window dressing to get you into the core of the gameplay.

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And it’s in this gameplay that BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! and all the other games have shone brightest. You are a box, and you can make more boxes. The number is determined by the level, and as you go along through the game you gain other moves that build on top of this core concept. Starting off with such a simple and straightforward premise, it has been amazing to see how far the series has taken it, and BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! is no different. The game begins slowly, too slowly in fact, but once it gives you plenty of maneuvers and offers up challenges that take advantage of them, it is a true puzzle delight.

It’s in this gameplay that BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! and all the other games have shone brightest

But as I said, it takes its sweet time getting there. Previous BoxBoy! games had similarly slow starts, but it’s taken to the extreme for this latest release. In a way this makes sense. BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! is the first time the series has been on the Switch, so new players are likely trying it out for the first time. But if you’ve played the previous games, or are just well adept at puzzle platformers, then the opening levels will be a bore. Typically Nintendo games follow a set pattern of introduce an element, reinforce the player’s understanding of it, then twisting and expanding on it from there. BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! repeats the middle step multiple times and sometimes never really gets to the last step, at least for a few levels.

Thankfully, BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! offers tons of content beyond the opening levels for all players to enjoy. With over 200 stages in total across its campaign, endgame content, and separate/unique co-op campaign, there is a lot to consume with this latest game. While it might take awhile to get to it, it’s all worth it as well, featuring some really challenging puzzles for even longtime fans. And co-op just makes a ton of sense for this series, adding an element that few would have thought of but adds a great deal to overall enjoyment.

The only issues that plague BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! are the same ones that have been with the series since the beginning. Even in those later, more enjoyable stages the game never gets truly difficult. And with cheap hints on hand at any time, you can blaze through the game if you want to. Its real challenges are optional, with crowns hidden on stages and unknown box limits that you can worry about or ignore as you wish. If you ignore them then getting to the end of BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! won’t take too long, and will feel a bit hollow. Paying attention to the optional objectives is what makes it more fun, though the casual nature of the experience is a sort of enjoyment all its own.

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Fitting perfectly on the Switch, BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! is the sort of game you can pick up and play in five minute chunks without losing much momentum. It also works well as a game you play while streaming a show in the background, or while listening to music. There’s never any real pressure on the player to continue on or fight some enemy. You just move from left to right, overcoming obstacles along the way, and if you die you reset right back at the puzzle you were on, losing practically no progress at all. For puzzle aficionados who are seeking a true test of their abilities, BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! won’t fit the bill, but it also isn’t trying to in the first place.

Instead BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! is the sort of game that you play for a few hours, then pick up a month later and have some more fun with only to repeat this a few times until you’re done. Co-op helps give the game more of a focus, if you have a partner to play with who will learn the mechanics right alongside you. Otherwise you might end up quarterbacking the whole thing, or trying to take them on solo. This is achieved by swapping characters much like Snipperclips, so those without a co-op partner can complete the entire game by themselves.

The Verdict

BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! continues the series perfectly in its transition from 3DS to Switch. Tons of puzzles await players, including a standalone co-op adventure that feels like a logical extension for the series. Much of this content is locked behind long introductions though, making it a slow start for series and puzzle fans. Once you make it past that though, you’re back into the relaxing and enjoyable world of BoxBoy!

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BoxBoy! + BoxGirl!

  • Available On: Switch
  • Published By: Nintendo
  • Developed By: HAL Laboratory
  • Genre: Puzzle Platformer
  • US Release Date: April 26th, 2019
  • Reviewed On: Switch
  • Quote: "BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! continues the series perfectly in its transition from 3DS to Switch."
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