Man, I miss Newgrounds. Or rather, I miss Newgrounds having notable game designers / animators on it rather than just being a sort-of shell of its former self where nothing happens. I bring it up because Boom Box Blue! (Exclamation mark mandatory) is one of the most Newgrounds-y things I’ve seen in a very long time. The presentation, the design, even the concept for the game scream “mid-to-late 2000’s free flash game.” That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Definitely not a good thing, but not necessarily a bad thing.
The game revolves around “Hero box” having to defeat the “Mean boxes” (I promise you that’s what they’re called, taken straight from the Steam page), and that’s about it. For some reason it’s also taking place on a stage set, Paper Mario style – and unlike Paper Mario this adds precisely zero to the gameplay, other than there constantly being an immensely irritating clapping sound effect playing, and people screaming when the lights go out. The gameplay takes place in a cube-sized hole in your display and this cannot be changed, the music is nice but loops in about two minutes, and the character / enemy assets look like they were very quickly knocked up in paint in the course of an afternoon.
A lot of both my praises and criticisms of this game are very similar to that of Fjong, so buckle up; this game is also fun. Manoeuvring between the blocks successfully, especially when they start to speed up, can be pretty entertaining; Hero box doesn’t have a movement speed, he (or I suppose she) just replaces your cursor, so can move as fast as you can react. The health mechanic is an involving dynamic, too – Hero box can restore its HP by eating falling sky-hamburgers (not recommended in real life), but this also increases the box’s size, making you more likely to get hit again. Equally, sky-muffins (which I’m pretty sure is a unicorn’s name) decrease your size, making you less likely to get hit but also making it more difficult to grab the stars and increase your score. There’s also an RPG-style level system so you can improve attributes like explosion size and max hit points.
It would be engaging if it weren’t all so shallow. There’s one mode, on one background, with one-ish music track. The boxes, apart from size (and different gratuitous achievements) are all identical, apart from the pink ones which bounce and feel massively unfair to get hit by. Apart from a time-slow power-up, a solitary wind effect and the aforementioned blackout-slash-screaming distraction, there’s literally nothing to change up the gameplay at all. It would be perfect as a free flash game to waste an uninteresting ICT lesson with, but this game costs 80p. That obviously isn’t a lot, but means it has to compete with, say, Super Hexagon, which for half as much provides more options and a much more fleshed out soundtrack and visual design. As it stands, Boom Box Blue! is an adequate timewaster that makes me wish the internet still had good free things on it – at least, free things that won’t fill my computer with more malware than every “legit-YouTube-downloader-we-promise” combined.