Super Box Land Demake
Developed By: lightUP
Published By: Ratalaika Games
Category: Arcade, Puzzle
Release Date: 10.11.19
The best thing about the present game industry scene is the breadth of games available to gamers. Sometimes you feel like a triple-A spectacle from one of the big boys, but sometimes you want a simpler, lighter experience that you can sit down and enjoy without a mountain of specialized mechanics. For that latter category, I humbly recommend Super Box Land Demake for the Nintendo Switch from lightUP and Ratalaika Games. It’s a retro styled puzzle game about moving boxes. I realize that doesn’t exactly sound sexy, but trust me it’s fun. Or, don’t trust me yet and read the rest of this review. I guess that is why I’m writing it.
You begin by choosing whether to play as a male or female box-mover, and then it’s off to 100 levels of box rearranging goodness. Every level there are a certain number of switches and boxes, and the object of the game is to get a box on each switch to open the gate to the next level. The concept is so freaking simple it may sound a little dull, but I promise all you puzzle lovers out there it isn’t. The puzzles are well-designed and will test your reasoning skills to their limits. If you make a mistake, you can use the game’s rewind function to go back as long as you’re on easy or normal mode. Easy has unlimited rewind, normal mode requires you to collect batteries to charge the rewind cam, and hard mode has no rewind capabilities whatsoever. That’s what makes it hard, I guess. Honestly, though, even when I had the rewind function available to me, I didn’t use it that much. If you leave a level and return the puzzle gets reset, and I found that much more useful than rewinding – except, of course, on those rare (frequent) occasions where I had boxed myself into a corner.
Every twenty levels there is a brief, light shmup sequence where you enter a plane and fly to the next area. They’re not really challenging sequences, or honestly even very much fun. There are just a few balloons placed along the route; shooting them sometimes drops a battery if you’re playing on normal mode. There are also balloons with skulls on them that will destroy your plane if you run into them, forcing you to start the sequence over from the beginning. These sequences very much feel out of place in the game, and aside from farming batteries on normal mode they don’t seem to serve much purpose. I suppose it provides a change of pace from the regular gameplay, but the game isn’t really long enough to get stale and the puzzles are engaging enough that variety isn’t really something I found myself wishing for during my playthrough.
The graphics are a charming throwback to somewhere between the 8-bit an 16-bit era. The colorful, friendly visuals reminded me very much of the SNES entries in the Harvest Moon series crossed with a less-complex version of the graphics from Earthbound. When it comes to indie gaming, you can do a whole lot worse than simple-but-attractive graphics. The music is similarly retro-inspired, and is generally a pleasant listening experience. The main game theme sometimes got on my nerves when I was having a particularly hard time solving a puzzle, but as long as I either played in short bursts or was moving through puzzles at a good pace I enjoyed the soundtrack.
Super Box Land Demake is a puzzle game built around a simple gameplay loop. You push boxes around a map; not exactly high concept, I know. But that doesn’t make it not fun. The puzzles are challengingly constructed and make for an engaging experience. The graphics and music combine to create a charming retro aesthetic that will appeal to gamers of all stripes. A well-rounded gaming diet includes triple-A blockbusters as well as plucky indie games; pick up Super Box Land Demake for a good time when you’re looking for the latter.
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*A game code was provided for review purposes