BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! (Switch) Review

Box Meets Girl

Against all odds, Kirby series developer HAL Laboratory and Nintendo’s hero has finally returned – yes, good old BoxBoy. It’s hard to blame anyone for not being familiar with BoxBoy!, which spawned a trilogy of 3DS games and even an amiibo figurine. Although the last game’s title was Bye-Bye BoxBoy!, the creators saw fit to continue the series with BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! on the Nintendo Switch, which also marks the franchise’s debut on consoles.

Here’s my Video Review for your viewing pleasure!

The game stars the square protagonist Qbby, an adorable 2D box with dot eyes and stick legs. True to the game’s name, a female box named Qucy, distinguishable by her eyelashes and striking bow, accompanies Qbby. The two inhabit a flat, mostly monochromatic world with sharp, geometric landscapes and minimalistic visuals. The graphics, which haven’t changed much from the 3DS games, may feel a bit off when blown up on the TV, but I couldn’t imagine the purposefully simplistic series any other way. The synth music is soft and cosmic-sounding, providing the perfect pensive backdrop.

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Qbby for Smash Bros?

In the main solo campaign, you play as either Qbby or Qucy, though both control identically. Either character can sprout blocks from their body. You can only produce a limited number at a time, but you can arrange them into connected shapes, like straight lines or Tetris-like figures. In every level, the goal is to utilize these blocks to reach the exit door. For instance, you may drop them to make steps, throw them to create bridges, or form hooks to latch onto ledges.

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New addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe: Captain Qucy!

The carefully constructed levels are as ingenious as ever, forcing you to think outside the box (ahem) and maneuver blocks across obstacles and towards switches. You also have to do some light platforming. The protagonists don’t jump high, so you must often supplement with well-placed step stools. Most worlds introduce a new level element or move, and each individual level is a gauntlet that both teaches you the ropes and tasks you to master what you’ve learned. Solo mode does a spectacular job building upon its own principles and combining them for complex puzzle platforming.

This gameplay description applies to every BoxBoy! game thus far, which may be the biggest downside, at least for series veterans. The main solo mode adds very little to the series besides more puzzles. Granted, the new moves, which include sliding blocks across wide distances and hopping by using boxes as a pogo stick, are great brain busters in execution. However, everything else is old-hat and will feel familiar to anyone who’s played the previous games. Even newcomers may grow tired as the solutions tend to repeat themselves. Moreover, several mechanics from the 3DS trilogy have not returned here, so for some, it could feel like a downgrade.

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I love me a good co-op puzzle platformer.

HAL Laboratory must have already been aware of this potential issue, which is why it included an entire second campaign, incorporating both BoxBoy and BoxGirl in two-player local co-op. These aren’t just the same solo mode levels repurposed for multiplayer, but rather, original levels designed for two. Each player controls either Qbby or Qucy, and both can move and create blocks at the same time. At first, this concept seems similar to the two sets of blocks idea from BoxBoxBoy!, but having two characters at once makes quite a difference. I was pleased to see the applications of transporting my partner using moving bridges and lifting them up by creating blocks under them. Some stages mix it up; for example, several levels separate players while others incorporate exclusive switches that are specific for either Qbby or Qucy. It’s disappointing that co-op mode retreads mechanics from the solo campaign, but it’s still a refreshing take on the formula that will appeal to fans of Nintendo’s creative co-op Snipperclips or the Switch’s cube-related puzzler Death Squared.

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The costumes make me think they’re on some kind of heist.

You can play this two-player mode by yourself, alternating between Qbby and Qucy with a button press. You can’t control both at once, so you’ll have to manually move them along, but it’s feasible to solo this given the game’s slow-paced nature. I preferred multiplayer for the camaraderie and convenience but found it natural to shift to single-player.

There is also a third mode starring Qudy, a tall, rectangular box character. I didn’t think much of it when Nintendo first revealed it in trailers, but Qudy mode is actually a full campaign. It also ended up being a surprise favorite. Due to Qudy’s unique shape, he produces rectangular blocks that turn the puzzles on their sides, literally, as he can rotate left and right like a Tetris piece. Consequently, Qudy can form both long horizontal block bridges and tall vertical structures that even he can’t jump over. Combined with the usual BoxBoy! gimmicks, Qudy’s rectangular brain teasers revolutionize the familiar structure.

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Qudy does not want to be bothered right now.

Beating all three campaigns took me about ten hours, but it can take longer depending on how you play. There are collectible crowns in every stage, strategically placed to taunt the player. An additional challenge asks you to complete a level using as few boxes as possible. You receive tiered medals depending on your achievement, and you really have to skimp on making blocks to reach the minimum. Without the challenges, the game is pretty easy, that is, until the last few devious worlds. Luckily, there is an optional hint system. By paying a medal, the game flashes the solution on the screen for you to recreate.

Medals are also currency for buying music, comics, and special booster items, which let you move faster and jump higher – in other words, cheat. There are also extra courses that task players to pop balloons within a time limit, a nice bonus in what I would consider an already packed game. Finally, there are unlockable costumes that you now randomly win from a gacha machine, an insufferable form of replay value.

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This is pretty much me in box form.

Conclusion

BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! is a triumphant return for one of Nintendo’s underappreciated square-shaped heroes. The core campaign, albeit a solid iteration that newcomers will enjoy, plays a little too safely for BoxBoy! veterans. Thankfully, the new co-op and Qudy modes are the reinvigorating jolts this series needed, delivering clever and refreshing ideas to mix up the simple block-making formula. Hopefully, this Switch debut marks a bright future for the box family.

Score: 8/10

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

What do you think of BoxBoy! + BoxGirl? What is your favorite BoxBoy! game? How about your favorite co-op puzzle platformers? Please be sure to share your thoughts or questions in the comments section below! Thank you so much for reading and watching!

20 thoughts on “BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! (Switch) Review

  1. Great review! Nice work! 🙂 Box Boy! + Box Girl! really made me think outside the box (ahem) hehe. I enjoyed it as I generally enjoy playing co-op puzzle games! We seem to be playing quite a few of those lately. 😉 I think the mechanics are pretty clever, even if they’re not new, per se. But since I never played the original 3DS BoxBoy! games, it all felt new to me. And I love BoxGirl! Superhero Qucy! I really like dressing up the little boxes in all the adorable costumes. Hmm, I now see that the Box family is surprisingly large. Where do box babies come from? I’ll sign out with that hard-hitting question. Be there or be square.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so very much for your awesome kindness and support. I truly appreciate you being a big encouragement! 😀 I’m very happy you enjoyed BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! The co-op is a great addition, and it really feels like there are a lot of great co-op puzzle platformers on the Nintendo Switch now. A lot of co-op games in general. I don’t think you necessarily have to play the 3DS BoxBoy! games, but they are definitely fun like this game. I think because of the co-op and Qudy modes, BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! is probably my favorite. And yay costumes! I really liked that superhero Qucy costume. She is pretty much confirmed for the Avengers, right? 😛 As for where BoxBabies come from… uhhhh… when a BoxBoy and a BoxGirl… hmmm… Let’s just agree that Kirby is involved somehow. XD

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh yeah, I highly recommend the BoxBoy! series for great, relaxing puzzle platforming. I’ve enjoyed all the 3DS games before this, but if you can only pick one, I would say get the Switch version for the multiple campaigns.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice review! If anything, this seems like a really good Box Boy/Girl game for first timers to start with. The co-op looks fun, and I’m glad Hal Laboratory is still cranking out games. Also, I made a Box Boy Amiibo after watching this by drawing eyes on my I-Phone adaptor. So thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much for your kind words and awesome support friend! I truly appreciate it! I would definitely say that BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! is a great place to start the series. The first 3DS game is also good, but I feel like this one has so much more with the bonus campaigns and co-op multiplayer. Go go HAL Laboratory! Love how their characters are either very round like Kirby or actual boxes. A BoxBoy amiibo, you say? I’ll take 8!

      Like

    1. Unfortunately, I haven’t played Battleblock Theater. I’ve played Castle Crashers so I’m familiar with the studio and the kinds of games they make, but I had to check out what Battleblock was like. BoxBoy! + BoxGirl! is very different from what I can tell, as it is a slower-paced puzzle platformer, with a focus on the block puzzles. It’s not really about fast twitch platforming, assuming that’s how Battleblock plays. The BoxBoy series is fun in its own way, but if you’re looking for something like Battleblock, this probably isn’t it. Hope that helps!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, it did help 🙂

        I liked Battleblock for the extremely cooperative nature of its platforming. It was like a Mario and Luigi game if Luigi was actually essential and helpful. There was a button you could press to lean down and help your buddy onto a platform that they just barely couldn’t reach. There was also a toss button to throw them across gaps.

        Plus, the humor was phenomenal.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That sounds really awesome! Hahahaha at Luigi being helpful 😛 There’s a lot of cooperative nature in BoxBoy + BoxGirl, but it’s much more puzzle than platformer, sort of like Pushmo or Snipperclips, if you’ve played either of them. I bet Battleblock Theater is really funny. I really liked Castle Crashers and thought Alien Hominid looked interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I only played a little of the demo before I picked this up. I believe it was super cheap. Did not realize it was made by Hal Laboratories, though I’m not surprised. They were the devs for The Adventures of Lolo 3 (and the other Lolo games), which is by far my favorite puzzle game of all time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hal Laboratories is so good at both Kirby games and their puzzle games. Adventures of Lolo is definitely an underrated series, so you definitely have excellent taste naming it your favorite puzzler of all time! I always found it cool that Lolo and Lala ended up being bosses in the Kirby series by pushing blocks around. Here’s hope to BoxBoy! being a boss in a future Kirby game, though I can’t imagine them fighting each other. They just have to be friends!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah! When I first played Kirby, I didn’t yet know about the awesome Adventures of Lolo games, so I had just assumed Lololo and Lalala were Kirby characters. They even show up in the Kirby anime!

        Liked by 1 person

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