Release date: 02/23/12
The Nintendo DS has been home to a lot of puzzle games that try their best to utilize both screen. The ones that stand out like N+, Brain Age, Puzzle Quest, Scribblenauts and one of my personal favorites, Meteos, usually have a special mechanic that separates them from the rest. Now Box pusher, which is a download only title from the DSiWare store, doesn’t really have much going for it to separate it from the heard.
To get right down to the nitty gritty, you push boxes to a designated location in a small boxed off maps. These maps are designed to make manuerving difficult and to force you you to think about every step you take. One wrong step and you’ll have to use the game’s nifty rewind feature to backtrack and try a new tactic. I found myself using this feature a lot with all the trial and error I experimented with. Now for those who just give up at everything there is a hint button that you are rewarded with every so often wich will show you the answer to solving the current map you are on. However, once it’s spent, its gone for good, so accumulating them is the best course of action for the later, more difficult, maps. Speaking of maps, there are 250 premade maps in the single player campaign and the game’s difficulty gradually increases every five to ten maps.
If the pre-made maps aren’t enough for you then you can always take up the art of making up to frustrate your friends. The same can be done for you as well, you can download a map made by a friend and attempt to beat them at their own game. The map making feature give you a huge grid and lets you pick destination points for your boxes, starting points for the player and even the type of terrain you would like. This is definitely a sure-fire way to irritate your friends by making a puzzle that literally cripples them.
There are a few issues that I have with Box Pusher. For starters, you have the ability to use the stylus to move your character, but this is in no way a good idea and is better left forgotten. You’re better off sticking with the d-pad as the stylus can easily move your avatar in the wrong direction forcing you to rewind. My second issue is the game’s multiple camera angles for the upper screen. While it is nice to have a different angle from which to see the terrain you will find that the controls do not switch to match the new point of view. So pressing right will always move you right, despite having an over the shoulder view, up-top view, or diagonal view-point.
To make matters worse is the fact that I have always been looking at the bottom screen while playing since it gives you a complete layout of the map and helps out with planning. My final issue comes with the lack of a rewarding feeling with completing the more challenging maps or just simply beating the game. Sure you can run through each map again and attempt to five-star each one by trying to beat each map with the fewest amount of steps, but it doesn’t amount to any form of satisfaction.
Unfortunately the disappointment doesn’t stop there. Now while Box Pusher is an indie game, that doesn’t excuse the lack of polish to the game’s graphics. The maps are small and the environments aren’t varied or greatly detailed. Sure you have grassy fields, beaches rustic ruins, and desert scenery but its nothing really special. In fact, sometimes the graphics are so bland that the boxes even blend in with the map. This becomes apparent in the desert looking scenarios. The avatar model is also incredibly low res and hard to make out unless you change the camera angle.
Continuing with the disappointment is the game’s audio…or lack there of. When starting the game, the main menu has a nice chipper tune but you will soon realize that is the ONLY tune that will be playing as it carries over into your game. Now the game does have other tracks from which you can pick and play in the game’s menu. You can even select it to randomly shuffle or continuously play it over and over again. After giving the shuffle a try to sampling every track I have found that Box Pusher’s music is hit or miss. Half of the tracks are nice and serene and are quite enjoyable to listen to while the rest are boring, mundane or sound like they belong in another game. The rest of Box Pusher’s audio is really just generic sound effects for the menu and annoying shuffle noises as you are moving the boxes around the map.
<Now aside from all these issue the game doesn't help itself by having any extras aside from map making, map sharing and local multiplayer. The local multiplayer and map sharing is really stretching it because I highly doubt you can convince your buddy to purchase this game.
To be truthfully honest, I can't really find anything redeeming about Box Pusher other than striving to beat the 250 maps available. The challenge the game offers you is decent for a game of this genre, but the reward is lacking along with so many other things in this game. Aside from that ,there is also trying to get a better rating in each map but honestly there is no incentive to do so. There is really no incentive to even continue playing the game after your initial play through.
FINAL SCORE: Poor Game
Short Attention Span Summary:
Box Pusher is a simple straight forward puzzle game with no rewarding experience at all, especially on a system that is flooded with tons of unique puzzle games. Box Pusher is nothing but a mediocre, bland and all around average puzzle game. If this was the year 1997, then maybe Box Pusher would pass for a good game, but not in this day and age. The game’s only saving grace is its gradually increasing difficulty that is sure to give even the most hardened puzzle gamer a challenge. Aside from that, the game just comes up to short in every aspect.