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Sometimes the funnest games are the most simple. Look back at Pong for example. A game so basic, but it took the world by storm and was a catalyst for video gaming as a whole. It’s these little delights that keep us gaming. Now, imagine that principle but shared with the joys of another player. That’s what Super Box Land Demake is here to accomplish, and while it doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it does create a simple yet effective co-operative puzzle.
There is one simple premise to Super Box Land Demake. It’s a game about a box and a switch – it’s the boy meets girl of the puzzle genre. Broken up into 5 worlds consisting of 20 levels each, the aim is to ensure the box reaches the switch, creating an exit to the next level.
Nothing ever really expands from this. Levels rapidly introduce more boxes and switches for you to figure out how to solve. Nothing massively new is ever brought to the table. There is a fun diversion between worlds which incorporates you flying a plane, shooting down bombs and balloons, but it’s incredibly basic and merely acts to break up the consistent puzzle solving.
What makes Super Box Land Demake so enjoyable, however, is that the whole game can be played in co-op. Whilst the game can be played with a friend, you can go throughout the game as a solo player, controlling both characters yourself. Playing by yourself can be convoluted as each character is mapped to a separate thumbstick. It never flows the way it’s intended and it’s clear that the intention is to play with a friend.
As you both play together and make your way through these worlds, constant communication can make seemingly complex challenges ridiculously easy – which is Super Box Land Demake’s biggest problem. It’s just too easy. This remains throughout the 1-2 hour journey. One later level has a simple puzzle which basically involves moving one block a few spaces to the button ahead. This would have worked well when introducing the mechanics at the beginning of the game. But when you’re over 50 levels in, it comes across as filler.
The game introduces multiple difficulty levels which affects your main ability in the game. That said ability is the power to rewind time and rewrite mistakes. It is possible to make puzzles unbeatable if you place the blocks in the wrong place, so the ability to rewind is a welcomed addition to prevent a complete restart. Unfortunately, Super Box Land Demake never really provides enough challenge to make use of this concept.
Using the power drains your ability, but the pick-ups to recover it are flooded throughout the levels, resulting in you never really feeling at threat of losing. It’s definitely a lot harder as a solo experience, yet playing with two players will see one of you more likely to pick up the mistake or solution before the other. Even on the hardest difficulty, Super Box Land Demake doesn’t pose any real challenge to players.
Luckily it still remains a relaxing and enjoyable experience that’s best played with another player. Working together to reach solutions is rewarding and occasional difficulty spikes do enable a level of creativity to reach solutions. The varying degree of difficulty is apparent throughout though, going from one extreme to the other.
What probably will appeal to an audience is the fact that Super Box Land Demake has a speedrun timer. This gives the community of speedrunners who are interested in games like this the ability to attempt to beat their previous time on multiple playthroughs and difficulties. It’s a nice little feature, and even if you’re not into the speedrunning side of things, it can be fun to time yourself on how quickly you can work through the multiple puzzles.
The 8-bit art style is wonderful and is a reminder of a simpler time. The audio retains the same level of nostalgia, incorporating a variety of 8-bit tones for a beautiful satellite palette. Art design remains fairly stale however, as many areas feel very similar with only a few distinguishing features. Though you travel to different biomes, none of them empower a sense of identity enough to stand out from the rest.
Playing Super Box Land Demake on Xbox One is a reminder of the days of Pong; a two player game with a very basic premise. The same can be said here. The gameplay never ventures off its initial premise and the difficulty remains stagnant throughout. But nonetheless, it’s an enjoyable experience with a clear focus on being played with a friend. It’s a story of block meets switch, and a lovely one at that.