BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! review: Thinking outside of the box

HAL Laboratory
HAL Laboratory /

The latest iteration of the BoxBoy series brings his friend BoxGirl into the mix. Together, they will use geometry to complete their journey.

Developer: Hal Laboratory
Publisher: Nintendo
Platforms: Nintendo Switch
Release Date: April 26, 2019

The fourth installment of the Boxboy! series is here and bigger than its previous installations. Not only is it the first time this series is on a home console compared to almost being exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS, but it is jam-packed with plentiful and fun content.

You start as the game’s main character, Qbby. Though in this game, you are also introduced to BoxGirl (better known as Qucy). In the single-player mode or A Tale for One, you can switch between Qbby or Qucy. They both play the same, so it’s more about preference instead of one having advantages over the other.

Your goal is to create boxes to build a path and help you traverse to the end of each level. You may run into spike traps, pitfalls, and other obstacles where you would need to strategically place these boxes to help you navigate and platform through.

Sometimes, you may be stuck on a specific obstacle, so the game allows you to press the L and R buttons to reset the current state you’re in. Or maybe you need a hint to help you clear a section of the level. All you need to do is hold down on the left analog stick and spend one medal for a hint, but those are easy to come by as you play more.

HAL Laboratory
HAL Laboratory /

It’s an easy game to jump into from the get-go, but as you progress the difficulty will decently spike upward.

BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! brings the best elements of platforming and puzzle games to create more than just another typical side scroller. It’s a simple premise, and the bite-sized levels are perfect for being on a console like the Nintendo Switch.

Simple can also be used to describe the art style of BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! While it might not be some graphical marvel, the simplicity of its style brings its own charm. Your character model is a white box with small dots for eyes. Qucy is the same but with a bow on her head and some eyelashes. It’s more on the cute side when you get into the world of the game.

It’s an easy game to jump into from the get-go, but as you progress the difficulty will decently spike upward.

The game has a sweet little story to go along with the premise. It has cutscenes now and then; often it feels faintly reminiscent to a Kirby game, especially with the music and oddly shaped characters who never speak. There’s a new door, new obstacles, and you use the power of friendship to reach your end goal.

After playing through the game, you should notice that you receive two types of currency that you can use in the shop— medals and targets.

You can spend the other medals to buy assist items. Perhaps some levels can be challenging, and you want to get past those pesky spikes or have an extra box to help you beat a level that stumps you. You can buy those assist items that do just that. You don’t need these items to clear any level, so this is for the less experienced.

HAL Laboratory
HAL Laboratory /

Maybe you want to spend the currency on collectibles because you like the extras in games or want to be a completionist. BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! does just that, offering things like music and comics. The comics, in particular, are very nifty because they feel reminiscent of newspaper comics. They’re quirky and lighthearted with a nice punchline or comedic moment to them. Music works just as it is. You purchase it and can listen to it whenever you please.

To add onto collectibles, you can buy Balloon Challenges. These are mini-games where you use your character to pop 10 balloons as fast as possible. The challenges use the same mechanics as you would in the main game. It also encourages you to use the abilities you gained throughout your adventure to help circumvent certain obstacles.

Perhaps the plain models are a bore to you, or you would want to add some fashion to old Qbby and his mate, Qucy. This game has a store in the hub world where you can access the Dress-Up Box and spend your other currency to acquire cosmetics. It acts much like a gumball machine and has a randomized aspect to it. You mix and match the various items received from the box to make your own dressed up Qbby and Qucy.

It doesn’t affect gameplay, but it’s a nice touch to add variety to the look of your character. It’ll make you stand out.

HAL Laboratory
HAL Laboratory /

Perhaps you want to have Qbby and Qucy partake in an adventure together instead of just swapping out between levels. BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! offers A Tale for Two, its cooperative mode. This requires good coordination between the two players since obstacles are designed for working together. It can be frustrating at times when your partner preemptively starts creating blocks and pushes you to your death, or when they create a path, you walk through it, but they break it when making new boxes.

While there may be some frustrations, there comes the beauty of the cooperative mode requiring teamwork. Put your minds together and see how you can traverse the levels. For all you know, one of you could think outside the box and come up with an efficient way to reach your goal.

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  • Maybe you don’t have the patience to play with someone else and want another layer of challenges. You can actually play this as one person, using the ZR and ZL buttons to switch between Qbby and Qucy. To pass levels in this mode, both of them must be present at the end.

    Upon completion of one of the storylines, you unlock a third mode, A Tall Tale. Qudy, the rectangle character, makes his return to the series. His gameplay mode provides a slightly different style of play, given that his shape and movement are different. Qudy’s mode is more challenging than the other modes, but it makes sense that his story is unlocked after achieving one ending.

    Post-completion of each mode does not mean the game is over. Perhaps you missed crowns, took excessively long or used one too many boxes to reap all the rewards in a stage. You can go back and try to complete or acquire anything you missed in your playthrough. Collecting all the crowns and staying within the box targets maximizes how many medals and targets you get at the end of each level, allowing you to have more to spend at the store.

    This undoubtedly added some more challenge for me as there is no cap to how many boxes you can use per level. Upon completing all levels in a world with every crown and clearing box targets, you earn a star over the door. This game rewards you whether you’re a casual or completionist; it has something for everyone.

    HAL Laboratory
    HAL Laboratory /

    This might be nitpicking, but this game doesn’t have separate save data slots. It’s unfortunate when I have a friend who wants to try the game out on their own, but I have things unlocked. They won’t get the full experience of the game unless they use an alternate account on my console.

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    Also, in later levels, I noticed there would be performance issues where the game started hitching. It didn’t make levels unplayable, but it was noticeable when there would be many things moving on the screen at once. Editor’s note: There is a Day 1 patch that wasn’t made available before our review with the intention to “optimize the game experience.”

    <em>BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL! </em>is a solid puzzle platformer, especially if you have that itch for short and on-the-go gaming sessions. Each world had me hooked on its gameplay loop more than the last. It’s easy enough to pick up and provides numerous challenges and extras for players of all levels.. HAL Laboratory. . BOXBOY! + BOXGIRL!. 8

    A copy of this game was provided to App Trigger for the purpose of this review. All scores are ranked out of 10, with .5 increments. Click here to learn more about our Review Policy.