I’ve never been that keen on puzzle games. The only ones I’d gotten into were the Game Boy port of Tetris and the Portal series. Call me a pessimist, but I’m just not all that clever. I’m a pretty damn slow guy. I like my dumb shooters and my metagame-heavy RTS games. So when Bye-Bye BoxBoy! came to me, I didn’t expect a whole lot of fun. After completing the game, it’s safe to say that first impressions aren’t always accurate.
Bye-Bye BoxBoy! is the third and final game in the BoxBoy series developed by HAL Laboratory, the minds behind Kirby and Super Smash Bros. In particular, it’s the brainchild of rookie designer Yasuhiro Mukae. His inexperience with directing led him to design a game that was simple, and BoxBoy! is a series that sure is simple. You play as Qbby, a sentient box who can procure other boxes from his body. This may sound like something that David Cronenberg deals with when he moves to a new house, but it’s absolutely charming in-game. Qbby uses these box-spawn to complete puzzle stages, littered with all kinds of mechanisms and obstacles. He has companion cubes (hehehehe) as well, but they’ve little more than excuses to have more characters in unlockable 4-panel Yonkoma comics. However, Qbby comes across smaller baby cubes as well. These babbu-cubes give Qbby powered-up cubes that he can create, like rocket cubes and explosive cubes. My personal favourite, however, has to be the warp cube. If I wasn’t already reminded of Portal by the game’s aesthetic, I was now. Speaking of unlockables, Bye-Bye BoxBoy! rewards you for flawlessly completing a course with an unnamed currency. You can use this to purchase costumes, the game’s music tracks, and special challenge courses. I haven’t stopped him wearing the squid costume since I got it.
Qbby, please, there are children present!
I’m a rocket maaaaaaaaan~
Bye-Bye BoxBoy! is incredibly simple in its design, and intentionally so. Only two colours are used in the game’s visual design (black and white), with minimalist environments helping to make the game less frustrating and easier to take in. Other colours make rare appearances only when it’s necessary. This visual choice is merely one part of the game’s tone: The music is chirpy but quiet, Qbby makes little to no movement or noise without input, and the game’s lack of time limits allow you to really take your time and not sweat the small stuff. Bye-Bye, BoxBoy! is one of the more relaxing games I’ve played in recent memory. Unfortunately, this design choice doesn’t lend itself to variety. Don’t get me wrong, there’s some stuff to make things interesting and breaks the monotony. I only wish it wasn’t few and far between.
This damn crown was the hardest part of the game.
You can use Kirby amiibo to unlock some cute skins.
While Bye-bye BoxBoy! may not differ too drastically from its predecessors, I’d argue that it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The simplicity of the game has charm that fewer games can hope to emulate, and the content available will last you at least 15 hours. Bye-Bye BoxBoy! isn’t the biggest game, or the best game, but it’s one of the calmest. If you’re stressed and need some quiet time, book a day off and give this game a whirl.