So Long, Farewell

The time has come to bid farewell to our beloved BoxBoy. You’d be forgiven if you didn’t know there was a BoxBoy to say bye-bye to. After all, his first two games arrived on the Nintendo 3DS eShop with little fanfare. Developed by HAL Laboratories of Kirby fame, Bye-Bye BoxBoy! marks the finale of this 2D puzzle platformer’s trilogy and is just as enjoyable as its predecessors.

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The 3rd game stars our heroes, BoxBoy, BoxGirl, and… TallBoxMan?

The story picks up where the second left off, as we find our hero Qbby and his rectangular comrades traveling to new planets to fend off a mysterious black smoke. Although the story plays second-fiddle to the puzzle platforming, it tells a surprisingly thoughtful tale about what it takes to save the universe.

The square BoxBoy Qbby has the ability to sprout blocks from his body. Though you can only produce a limited number at a time, you can arrange them to produce connected shapes, like straight lines or Tetris-esque L-figures. Knowing how to utilize these blocks to reach the exit door is the crux of the gameplay; drop them to make stepstools, throw them across gaps to create makeshift bridges, or form hooks to latch onto high ledges. You can only make one set of blocks at a time, forcing you to design shapes carefully. There is some light platforming involved, thanks to Qbby’s jump ability, but the majority is mastering the art of block-making.

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Think outside the box. There, I said it.

As inventive as Qbby’s powers are, it’s the ingenious level design that drives the gameplay. Each world introduces a new gimmick that you must learn to work around to complete each level. Gravity-defying inverted spaces, forceful wind currents, and destructive black smoke are but a few of the new elements that spice puzzles up. Though a few classic obstacles return from previous titles like spikes, lasers, and falling platforms, I’m floored by how many novel ideas HAL Labs has included in this package, providing a constant variety that keeps block creation fresh throughout the game.

HAL also added new types of levels, including box baby (Qbaby) escort missions and special block powers. The former has you guiding a miniature Qbaby to the exit, which sounds worse than it actually is. Borrowing elements from Lemmings and Mario vs. Donkey Kong, you create platforms, which the Qbaby automatically travels through. In turn, they also activate switches that help you cross, adding a surprising layer of cooperative action.

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Bye-Bye BoxBoy! introduces Box Babies!

Helping these box babies pays off in each planet’s final world, where they bestow you with new types of blocks, such as rocket-powered and explosive boxes. These powers are both fun to use and incredibly clever, tasking you to think several steps ahead before even setting the blocks. My only disappointment is that there aren’t more of these special powers, making me yearn for an unlikely sequel.

Although there are numerous new stage hazards and powers to learn, the majority of levels are fairly simple once you get used to them. Series veterans, especially, will find the puzzle design awfully familiar, since HAL borrows concepts and solutions from older entries. In addition, you generally only deal with one gimmick per world, preventing most levels from becoming too complex. It’s only in the final worlds where the game begins combining stage elements in devious placements to trip you up, offering a huge difficulty spike. You may even need to use the game’s helpful hints, which you can purchase with 3DS Play Coins, to guide the way. Luckily, checkpoints are generous, and retrying is as simple as pressing the shoulder buttons.

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The new block powers are fun!

The best challenge is collecting crowns scattered throughout the level. These collectibles are usually tough to reach. And if you use up too many boxes within the level, the crowns disappear, adding a resource management element for diehard collectors. Additional replay value comes in besting your own times and attempting to beat levels using as few boxes as possible. Your stats are all recorded, satisfying that arcade mindset of trying to outdo yourself. Finally, the game awards medals after each level based on performance, which you can use to purchase costumes, mini-comics, and music. You can also obtain challenge levels, special worlds that take away one of your abilities, such as jumping.

The game has a very clean, minimalist presentation, with a mostly monochromatic color palette and clean right angles everywhere. If you have save data from the older games, you’ll unlock options that let you filter the color scheme to resemble the Game Boy’s neon screen or the Game Boy Pocket’s grayscale. Additionally, scanning in amiibo from the Kirby series grants you box-versions of the pink puffball and his friends. The synth piano music is soft, giving a cosmic-sounding vibe. It’s pensive and never distracting, providing the perfect backdrop as you work your brain.

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So is Kirby part of the BoxBoy universe then? Or vice versa?

Conclusion

Bye-Bye BoxBoy! is an excellent sendoff to Nintendo’s underrated square mascot. With nearly two dozen worlds of 6-8 levels each, there are at least seven hours of gameplay, not including extras. If you’ve played the first two games, you know what you’re in for. Though the core concepts are identical, Qbabies and special powers keep the geometric puzzler fresh. If you haven’t experienced the BoxBoy! series and can only pick one, Bye-Bye BoxBoy! has the most variety, providing the most value. Otherwise, picking up the whole trilogy is a great solution for anyone seeking ingenious portable puzzles in bulk. Bye-Bye, BoxBoy! We’ll miss you!

Score: 8/10

Note: A review copy was used for this article. This review was posted on Darkstation.

What are your thoughts on Bye-Bye BoxBoy! Did you know BoxBoy existed? What are your favorite puzzle platformers for 3DS? Please share any thoughts you have in the comments section below! Thanks for reading!

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33 thoughts on “Bye-Bye BoxBoy! (3DS) Review

  1. Great review! I haven’t played this game myself. The snippets I saw looked pretty cool, though. I think it’s a very clever concept. Who knew boxes could have so many uses? It certainly has an indie retro look to it. Maybe I’ll try it out the first installment one of these days and work my way through the trilogy!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your comments as always Crystal Dragon! I fell in love with the BoxBoy series from the first game, and I’m glad that HAL Labs has consistently put them out. They’re such fun puzzle experiences! Try out the first one, and you may end up playing them all! 😉 Now we just need the Qbby amiibo, haha.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Awesome! So happy that it helped you out! If you’re looking to try out all three games, the first BoxBoy is the way to go. Otherwise, this is my favorite of the three, due to its special blocks and unique missions. Enjoy! And let me know what you think when you play it! 🙂

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    1. Definitely one of my favorite eShop-only series. It came and went, but I think the whole trilogy is worth playing. I assume it did well in Japan since Nintendo actually released an amiibo of the main character. I don’t know much about Thomas was Alone, but if it has to do with puzzle platforming and geometric shapes, then it’s indeed similar! I agree. HAL Labs is great!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for your super kind words! The first BoxBoy was one of the few 3DS eShop games that truly interested me, and I’m so glad I picked it up. I can’t believe this thing became a three-game series, but I’m glad it did. Hopefully, more people check it out. I feel it’s underrated. I’d definitely be interested to hear what you think if you pick it up! 🙂

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  2. I really enjoyed reading this review! Kirby is just as cute as ever in box form, haha. You’ve reminded me I really need to check out these games too. Truthfully, I had no idea about the BoxBoy series, until Nintendo announced the Qbby Amiibo, of course. I imported it from Japan and love how adorable he is. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Ellen!! Oh my goodness, the amiibo versions of the Kirby characters are so cute! We both benefit for having so many amiibo because you can only get those fun colorful costumes with the Kirby series figures. Box Meta Knight is adorable!

      Speaking of amiibo, I really want the Qbby one. He looks so cute! It has like a 0% chance of coming over though, so I’ll have to import it. I’m glad that you heard of the series because of amiibo. It fits so well, haha! And it shows how much Nintendo could market their lesser-known franchises. Shame they didn’t bring Qbby over, but I hope that they continue to make amiibo for games that aren’t heavy-hitters. Let me know what you think if you ever pick up any of these games!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Now I want to see a Kirby-in-BoxBoy form Amiibo. My addiction problems won’t be cured anytime soon… Well played Nintendo, haha.

        I hope you get the Qbby Amiibo soon! They really should have done an official NA release so more people can get it. He’s cute but simple, so I doubt it costs much to make him. Thankfully, it’s very easy to import stuff in this global economy 🙂

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      2. Kirby BOXBOY amiibo would be so cute! I do hope I get it soon too! Funny thing is that the English version of the game actually has an option for you to scan in the Qbby amiibo so you can use it with the western release, as long as you have the Japanese Qbby amiibo! I wish that meant they were releasing it here, but alas. Importing it is!

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  3. nice review, definitely on my list, loved the first game. Nice to see there is a bit of colour added in, oh, and the Qbabies sounds adorable!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much! And that’s awesome you played the first one! You’ll be familiar with the mechanics then. There’s also BoxBoxBoy in the middle that let Qbby make multiple cubes. I liked Bye-Bye BoxBoy more for its special blocks and Qbabies. They are pretty cute! And the slight color makes a difference, doesn’t it?

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      1. yea it still keeps it’s minimalist look which is good. I do want to play boxboxboy first though, each game is pretty special

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  4. No! Not Box Boy! (Googles Box Boy…) Nice review! This looks like a really cool, inventive game. Sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone (this should be the Virtual Console’s tagline)!

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    1. Awesome!! I love puzzles and platformers and puzzle platformers are usually a perfect mix! I hope you enjoy the BOXBOY games when you get a 3DS! I’d love to hear what you think when you play it! Thanks for your comments!! 😀

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      1. It looks fun! Two other puzzle platformers that I got to review lately that I found interesting were Metrico+ and Shift DX. The former is a game where you control a person through bars and graphs of statistics that move when you perform certain actions. The latter involves you flipping the world and backgrounds to guide your character to the exit.

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    1. Since you enjoyed the first game, you’ll definitely get a lot out of this third game. I also recommend the second game, BoxBoxBoy. But if you had to choose one, I’d go with Bye-Bye BoxBoy!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I definitely did not know it existed so this is news to me. The gameplay definitely looks fun and when the box is pink it looks kind of like Kirby. Cool to see a series get to finish without being cancelled or anything like that. Just a nice, proper ending.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, Kirby looks good in round and block form it seems! I also enjoyed the other Kirby characters’ blocky looks in the game. I agree that it’s nice that this series got a proper ending, even if the series just came and went. The developers set out to make this, and achieved it, and that’s a true accomplishment!

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  6. I knew of it only through the 3DS ehsop, but I had no idea HAL was behind it until someone mentioned it in regards to this one’s release. It always just looked like another cheapo eshop exclusive to me. I doubt I’d be too into these myself, but it does sound a little more promising knowing the talent behind it. Then again, this seems like it was always meant to be a little aside that not everyone knew about. And it is somehow fitting to kill off the series with the fast-approaching death of the 3DS itself. I’ve not really played any puzzle platformers on the 3DS though, except for the demo period of Pushmo which was… meh.

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