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An Overdue Appreciation of the Brilliance of BoxBoy

Sorry, Qbby. I’m so sorry. I should have seen you sooner. But now I’m here, man, your games are magic.

Like many with the option between reliable stalwart and shiny new thing right now, I'm often favoring the Switch over the 3DS for portable play. First came Breath of the Wild—just four more shrines to find now, and I'm giddy with anticipation of the achievement—then Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and then ARMS. The hybrid console's had a superb start to its lifecycle.

But the 3DS isn't done just yet—indeed, Nintendo has promised to support the system, which is about to gain a new addition to the family in the shape of the (very attractive, if I may say so) New 2DS XL, in 2018. We saw one game coming next year unveiled at E3—Sushi Strikers: The Way of Sushido is a fun-looking competitive eating game that you can imagine also working on Switch, what with the right JoyCon's motion-sensing IR functionality.

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Before then, though, comes the (Secret of Mana creator) Koichi Ishii-directed RPG Ever Oasis—and not long after, Metroid: Samus Returns. Two big deals worth clearing SD card space for. And while doing so, I stumbled over something I'd downloaded months ago and completely forgotten about: a demo collecting stages from all three BoxBoy! games, released to promote the third entry in HAL Laboratory's puzzle series, March's Bye-Bye BoxBoy!.

Listen, Qbby, the box boy himself, the absolute box boy: I'm sorry that I wasn't here for you sooner, and that I'm showing up right at the end of things. I should have made the effort. People, friends even, told me that your games were good. I listened, but took no action. But this demo. It's… shit, it's majestic. Just the most elegantly orchestrated evolve-beside-the-player mechanics, set against brainteasers that just poke and prod enough without ever being a pain. I love it. (Tip, though: play the levels in order, through games one to three, or else you'll miss helpful instructions.)

Hopefully I needn't go into gameplay specifics here—the games have sold well, reviewed fantastically, and the demo, this demo, is still out there on the eShop. But, the basics: Qbby squeezes other squares out of his little blocky body, which can be strung together to create hooks, bridges, steps, rockets, all sorts, used to traverse short A-to-B stages full of obstacles like spikes and lasers and massive great holes in the floor. There's more to it, of course, but I don't want to preach to the converted; and nor do I want to spoil anything for anyone who, like me before now, hasn't given BoxBoy!, as a series, the attention it deserves.

I'll spend Real Money just as soon as I can, on the releases proper, starting with the first—though, what with those aforementioned big deals on the horizon, I might also have to invest in a second SD card. That's the thing with Nintendo consoles, isn't it? There's never enough space for all the terrific titles available, at the same time, whether you catch them at launch or long afterwards.

Edit: three more shrines to go. These games, man. These games.