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Box Up (Wii U) artwork

Box Up (Wii U) review

"What if Flappy Bird were moving up instead of to the right, and what if he or she were a box? What then?"

In the infamous mobile title, Flappy Bird, players control a bird that flies to the right while avoiding ledges and pipes. If it flies too high or low, or misses a gap between the pipes, there ends its progress. The game is simple but effective (partly, in my opinion, because of the nostalgia-inducing graphics that feature pipes you'll swear were lifted from the original Super Mario Bros.).Once upon a time, people couldn't get enough of that peppy fowl.

Anyway, the game has largely faded from memory by now. About the only time I ever see it now is when I find that someone has reworked it to produce an arcade experience. At the right establishments, you can play Flappy Bird to win prizes like DVDs or even a new PlayStation. Thus does the sometimes-reviled classic find new life and purpose.

Box Up, a brand new release on Wii U (which follows a previous version for 3DS), doesn't serve such a noble purpose. It costs $1.49, and when you buy it, your only goal is to play long enough to attain mastery and snag a high score... which unfortunately won't be saved once your session ends and you turn off the system or load some other game. Oh, and did I mention? It's developed and published by RCMADIAX, the studio that seems to just love building "score chasers" and then giving you no way to compare it to whatever milestone your friends might have managed.

But let's be honest here: your friends are probably too smart to buy this game, even though it costs less than a large soda pop. Only suckers like me take the plunge.

Box Up (Wii U) image

You might be wondering now why I even brought up Flappy Bird a moment ago, if all I was going to do was throw together that cheesy discussion about purpose. Well, I actually had a pretty good reason: Box Up plays like a vertical take on Flappy Bird, except without the charm.

As the game begins, you see a box positioned near the bottom of the Wii U's screen, balanced precariously atop a vertical dashed line. You can tap either the left or right side of the screen (or those directions on the d-pad, if you feel the input offers more precision). Either way, the box springs upward in the direction you choose. It rapidly draws close to blocks that are suspended in the air, or to overhead beams that have small gaps between them. So your goal, I quickly and correctly deduced, is to keep springing up so that you avoid any obstacles and pass through each successive gap. You get a point each time you ascend one level.

In Flappy Bird, I felt like I had pretty good control. I could tap lightly or more aggressively, and the bird responded more or less appropriately. Here, it doesn't seem to matter how hard or briefly you press; the box makes about the same leap. If you need to interrupt an arc and head suddenly in the opposite direction, though, you can certainly do that. Also, you can let the block start to drop to buy yourself a little more room, just as long as it doesn't fall too far at once. The problem is that everything quickly goes wrong if you try to hurry too much. You have to take your time and show some proper patience to manage a score that's not utterly embarrassing.

Box Up (Wii U) image

When you first load the game, a fairly catchy tune starts playing. It caught me by surprise and seemed unnecessarily loud, but I quickly lowered the volume on my television set and the problem temporarily went away. However, the music never stops unless you mute it. The composition, which somehow manages to be both brief and repetitive at once, loops regularly and quickly wore on my nerves. Still, it's probably better than pure silence. Probably.

After playing a number of games from RCMADIAX, I've come to realize the studio produces roughly two types of games: bad ones and very bad ones. Given that some people just plain adored Flappy Bird, and seeing as how Box Up is a semi-competent clone of that other classic (just with the change in axis), I am left to conclude that the game has the happy distinction of being merely bad.

There's not much reason to download Box Up instead of a Flappy Bird clone you can probably snag for your phone without paying a penny, unless you're totally in love with the notion of a more vertical approach. Even then, you probably won't even spend as much time playing it as you do downloading it (especially if your wi-fi connection is awful). At the end of the day, it's not a total waste of time. That counts for something. I'm just not sure it counts for $1.49.

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Staff review by Jason Venter (July 18, 2017)

Jason Venter has been playing games for 30 years, since discovering the Apple IIe version of Mario Bros. in his elementary school days. Now he writes about them, here at HonestGamers and also at other sites that agree to pay him for his words.

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