HomeReviews1.5/5 ReviewBabol the Walking Box Review

Babol the Walking Box Review

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In the age of remasters, it’s perhaps refreshing to play something that feels like a demaster. Babol the Walking Box is, for all intents and purposes, a demaster of Crash Bandicoot. It looks, plays and feels like a small development team decided to demake the PlayStation classic. And there’s a perversion to that, too, as Crash loved, more than anything, to destroy boxes, and Babol the Walking Box decides to make one its main character.

You play Babol, a red box, who has taken it upon himself to rescue his fellow box-people from a red-eyed warlock dude. That’s pretty much the summary of what’s here, and it’s a shallow excuse for some 3D platforming action.

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As you would expect from a Crash-loving platformer, said 3D platforming action is both into the screen and away from the screen. You are equipped with a jump, a mid-jump bottom-bounce, and a spinning attack, which – you may recall – was also what Crash was given. And considering this is a world where boxes live, breathe and get captured, there are also a surprising number of boxes to destroy and explode. Babol the Walking Box is brutal.

But as soon as we found ourselves with the pad in our hand, and Babol the Walking Box was moving through the arenas, we knew something was deeply wrong. Full respect to the small number of people at Gamecom Team who put this together, but this is verging on unplayable. 

Good lord, where to start. The controls are as good as any. If Babol was in an empty arena with a few platforms to tinker with, things might have seemed acceptable. But in the cluttered levels, they can feel like you’re walking through a field of mousetraps with clown shoes on. To defeat enemies, you need to be using the bottom-bounce or spin-attack, but the levels are so dense with exploding crates that you feel wary of ever using them. Those crates also have a ridiculously large collision box, so get within a whisker of them and you’re an ex-box, whisked back to the start of large levels with few, if any, checkpoints.

The camera, lighting and level-design all combine to create the platforming equivalent of jump-scares. Enemies appear out of nowhere, from behind rocks, out of lens flare, and generally from impossible-to-see locations. You might spot them in time and unleash an attack, but you’re just as likely to clip an explosive crate and die anyway. Otherwise, you’re dead and having to remember where that crocodile, warthog or electricity spark came from. 

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Babol the Walking Box doesn’t seem to be aware of its own issues, so ratchets up the punishment for death. There are no life pips or hearts here: you get hit once, and you’re back to the start of the level, full minutes from where you previously reached. Sure, completing a level consequently feels like a huge achievement, but any deaths along the way will – we guarantee – feel like they were less your fault, and more the fault of Babol the Walking Box. 

If there was a carrot dangling in front of our faces, we might have felt more inclined to progress through Babol the Walking Box. But the enemies are all variants on either ‘dumbly walking on a patrol route’ or ‘chasing after the player like they said something untoward’. There’s no deviation from the formula: even though the game might reskin them, these two enemies are the same throughout. Which means their issues are the same throughout: like the boxes, their collision boxes are all over the shop, and the camera doesn’t help matters by being so zoomed out and occasionally obscured. We would merrily bottom-bounce something, only to be told we were a pixel or two out, and got killed instead.

The levels, as well, do little to shake things up. There’s the occasional bizarre, barely functioning puzzle at the start of the game (you have to construct a shape out of composite shapes on the floor, but you can’t actually see the full puzzle on a single screen), but Babol the Walking Box eventually gives up on them and just sticks to platforming for the second half of the game. Bosses are a little bit better, but they can all be defeated by strafing and waiting for a weak-spot to flash at you. And the levels are just all gauntlets of enemies, platforms and exploding crates. Nothing else gets added of note.

And then there’s the music. Ye gods, the music. We’ll call them jingles, as they’re snatches of about five seconds of music, played on a loop. They creeped into our brain, rattling around like a pea in a whistle. They were catchy, sure, but in the same way that gonorrhea is catchy. By the thousandth loop, we were ready to check ourselves into a clinic.

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If we were to scrape together something positive to say about Babol the Walking Box, it’s that it looks nice enough, constructed out of bold blocks and colourful polygons. It didn’t hurt our retinas. And the price wasn’t going to bankrupt us. £5.79 isn’t bad in price-per-hour terms, as there’s about two hours of levels to play through. But By Jove, we wouldn’t recommend that you actually bought the damn thing. 

As anyone who’s returned to the original Crash Bandicoot will tell you (not the one in Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy, as that looks lovely and has had its edges filed off), it can be a brutal, uncompromising experience. It doesn’t necessarily hold up today. Babol the Walking Box feels like the original Crash Bandicoot, but worse in every conceivable way. The Crash Bandicoot PS2 jewel case has been stomped on, smashed and then presented as a budget platformer for you to play on your Xbox. If that sounds like an hour or two of infuriation that you want in your life, then please, go open the box. 

You can buy Babol the Walking Box from the Xbox Store

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