Back when gaming was making its transition into 3D, one genre reigned supreme, the collectathon platformer. Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie, Ape Escape, and countless others. There was a joy and fascination in not just simply collecting all the things, but also the moment of “I can actually go here, that’s so cool!”. Eventually these types of games came less often. Which is a shame since these games do appeal to fans of exploration and collecting but are also good for learning how to play games, but can also offer a challenge to experienced gamers. The nostalgia for these games peaked earlier this year with the release of Yooka Laylee, and to mixed reviews. Yet here comes Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure, and though I didn’t get a chance to play Yooka Laylee, this newcomer certainly could prove that the genre isn’t dead yet!
Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure features a world filled with anthropomorphic boxes. Having recently been hired by GPS (Global Postal Service) Newbie must help the company in pretty much every way but deliveries. Newbie will collect, race, bounce, drive, overcome obstacles, and slam baddies as GPS’s newest recruit. Scattered around the various worlds are golden rolls of duct tape, fellow boxes trapped in cages, and tasks to complete. The main goal is to collect stamps, each task completed will grant one, but there are also stamps hidden around each world in caves, and buildings, etc. Once enough stamps are collected in each world Newbie can challenge the leader, Boss Wild, of the game’s antagonists, the Wild Cards. This challenge leads to a boss fight. Not the most engaging plot, but that isn’t where Unbox shines.
Simply moving around is the best part of Unbox. Which is surprising considering all Newbie really does is roll around, and jump. It’s what they do with this that makes it fun. While Newbie is in the air, an “unbox” can be performed. “Unboxing” essentially are bonus jumps, it is limited to six however. Regaining these is simply a matter of running over little green boxes or being near a checkpoint. Newbie moves easily, especially when stringing jumps together, and that’s without “unboxing”. This is what makes exploration so much fun, it’s swift, easy, and it feels good to nail a difficult series of jumps to get to a specific spot. Some of the tasks Newbie is given put these mechanics to challenge. Things like make it to the top without “unboxing”, go around the whole island in less than a certain amount of time, take out a certain number of Wild Cards, and more. Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure is the epitome of building a game around challenging easy gameplay. Be careful with “unboxing” though since it is tied to Newbie’s health, get hit after running out Newbie respawns at the last checkpoint. This adds a little thought to how “unboxing” is used, particularly in hazardous areas. Newbie also has the ability to slam while in the air, knocking out Wild Cards, and during certain challenges collect and fire rockets. Overall the gameplay itself begs to be challenged. Seeing a plane and thinking “I wonder if I can get on that plane way up there” and then doing it is extremely satisfying. There were a few times where the task requested didn’t compliment the gameplay, but it wasn’t very often. There were also a couple of times where Newbie got stuck, but with the respawn button this was only a minor nuisance. Though some room for some refinement, the gameplay is responsive and solid.
Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure is a very bright game, not overwhelmingly so, but enough that everything can be seen well. And it is worth seeing. The world is packed full of charm, and little details that add to this strange and boxy world. It’s not something you’ll find yourself gawking in amazement at, but it all fits together nicely and is appealing visually. With how fast Newbie can travel around the map at times, I never lost track of where I was going or had trouble seeing upcoming obstacles or direction changes, or even all those golden duct tape rolls which can be pretty small on the screen. Moving around quickly doesn’t cause blurs, and only once or twice did I run into frame rate issues and those were more related to some explosions and other effects happening at the same time. The fact that Newbie can be customized adds to the visual appeal of this game. As more tasks are completed, more accessories and skins become available. Changing Newbie’s look is a simple matter of visiting Swift Tailoring ( Huh? EH!? 😉 You get it…) It is a great way to give Newbie some personality, and make players more connected to the silent box. Check out my box below!
Music in Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure is there, it isn’t bad, but it’s definitely goes to the background and isn’t’ particularly notable. I never found myself humming along or looking up the soundtrack like I have with other games in this genre. Sound effects are where they are supposed to be and offer a satisfying audio cue to actions and things going on around Newbie. Characters speak in generic noises, but dialogue is understood through text boxes. Audio wise, nothing stands out as bad, but not as good either. Its there and would certainly be worse without it.
Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure is a really fun game where the focus is certainly centered on the gameplay itself. Prospect Games proved they can think outside of the box when they can make a game about a box that can roll and jump as engaging and fun as they did. It’s a game that encourages players to look around see something and see if they can use the game mechanics to get there, even without the various tasks and challenges. The “unboxing” mechanic breathes some life into the collectathon platformer and made it feel fresh. There is splitscreen multiplayer but I unfortunately did not get a chance to play it before writing this review. Based on the trailer though, it looks like it’s bonko bananas fun time and adds replay value to Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure!