Review: Boxxle (Game Boy)

In this review, we work for some of the most inefficient warehouses in existence playing the Game Boy game Boxxle. We find out how well this puzzle game plays.

This game was released in 1990. It is a Sokoban clone. As it happens, I actually have some limited experience with these kinds of puzzles already.

The idea of the game is that a warehouse employee is trying to earn money in an effort to woo a girl.

The rules are very simple to understand: you must push all the boxes onto the goal positions. You cannot pull and you certainly cannot grab a pallet jack and move the boxes wherever freely. The only other thing you can do is undo a single move with the “A” button.

As you can tell, this puzzle game is straight up logic problems. More specifically, they are spacial puzzles.

In total, there are 108 puzzles in this game. They are split between “world” levels much like Super Mario Bros. With the exception of world 11 (which has 8 levels), each world has 10 levels. At the end of each world, you get a small cutscene.

While that is the gist of the game, the strategies of this game is far more complex.

One strategy is to avoid putting boxes in a 2×2 grid outside of the goal area. Doing so will make it impossible to move any of them. If you form that grid wit chunks of wall, it’s the same deal.

Another strategy is to scan the room ahead of time before moving boxes around. While a number of puzzles seem to offer endless possibilities, it’s easy to discard many possibilities just by ruling out any move that will result in an impossible board. This includes pushing boxes into a configuration that will only result in just pushing them into a wall. Another one is pushing boxes on both ends of a corridor with no holes on the side. Things like that can narrow the possibilities significantly and allow a solution to pop out faster in a room that is otherwise seemingly dizzying.

A third strategy is to pay attention to what order you put the boxes into the goal area. Sometimes, you can push boxes into the goal area only to discover that you rendered the puzzle impossible simply because you pushed the boxes into the goal are in the wrong order. Again, mapping things out ahead of time is often critical.

One additional strategy that often, but not always, works is to eliminate easy to solve boxes first. This applies mostly to the larger puzzles. If you know you can easily push a box into the goal area without any consequence, make that move. Often, this frees up space for other boxes and allows them to be moved into the goal area.

Another strategy applies when the goal area is all in one location. Try and fill up the most inconvenient locations with boxes first. If the last boxes going in require a simple shove straight in, that often makes the puzzles much easier to solve.

These are some of the strategies I employed as I worked my way around the warehouses. While it goes a fair ways, it only helps. I’m sure there are other strategies that help solve much more complex puzzles I couldn’t quite figure out.

There is one feature I never really understood the point of: the number of steps you take. While this may be useful in trying to calculate the most efficient routs, it’s hard to really see the relevance of this feature when you are simply playing this for fun.

A problem I have with this game is the fact that the difficulty is all over the map. I don’t know if it’s because solutions to some puzzles come to me faster than others or if puzzles are almost randomly easy or hard. In any event, I often found myself solving some puzzles with ease while spending several minutes just trying to figure out where to even begin to to solve one level. Then, after going through a real brainbuster, several levels after end up being pretty straight forward. Ironically, I found the larger puzzles to be easier than the smaller ones on average.

Another problem with this game is that this is appealing to a very limited number of players. If you enjoy spatial logic puzzles, this is definitely a great game to try. If you are simply a fan of puzzle games, this game may or may not be appealing. For general gaming fans, this may be able to serve as a distraction, but the repetitive nature of the game will likely get to you. For a vast majority of players, this game is something to play until you just can’t be bothered moving forward. Forget trying to beat the game, it’s not likely going to happen.

Generally speaking, this game has a difficulty curve that is all over the map and will likely be considered repetitive to a large number of players. While it can serve as an interesting mental exercise, the game will eventually lose its appeal.

Graphically speaking, this game is, at first, not that bad. Unfortunately, all of the levels share the exact same texture. The walls never change, the floors never change, and the boxes certainly aren’t going to change look by any means. While the cutscenes do add a little something to the mix, there’s next to nothing to look at here.

The audio is also quite weak. You only have one track to listen to. The only track you’ll hear is when your character falls asleep from waiting for so long.

Overall, this isn’t a game for everyone. If you like spatial logic puzzles, this game is definitely for you. The further you drift away from that definition, the less likely this game is going to appeal to you. The footstep counter is an almost useless feature to have. The difficulty curve is all over the map. The more you play this game, the less likely you are to continue it. The graphics have a quantity problem and the audio forces you to listen to the same track over and over and over again. While this game can challenge your mind, it can do little else.

Overall
Furthest point in game: 03-09
Needed some hints for 02-05, 03-01, and 03-05, but by the time I hit 03-09, I finally said “forget it” and hit the power switch.

General gameplay: 16/25
Replay value: 4/10
Graphics: 4/10
Audio: 1/5

Overall rating: 50%

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Facebook.



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