There was a point when my wife sat down on the sofa and watched me blunder through Peachy Boy. Suddenly, I had a backseat Peachy Girl. She was telling me to switch gravity clockwise or anti-clockwise, getting on the impatient side as I didn’t quite pull off the plan right. And she was having a right old cackle whenever I span gravity through ninety degrees and a block slammed into poor old Peachy Boy. Honestly, I was tempted to gather up the Xbox and head upstairs.
But that doesn’t happen with every game. Most of the time, my wife’s indifferent to the games I play, but Peachy Boy had her hooked (and me, to be fair). There’s no bigger recommendation than that, really: Peachy Boy is so immediately playable and understandable that it can sometimes feel more like a toy than it is a game. It’s colourful, feels great to play, and you get the perverse joy of slamming rocks into your peachy main character. It’s a game that seems to draw people in to watch, and you can feel their hands reaching for the pad as you’re playing.
As a good example of how Peachy Boy gets its alchemy just right, we point to the Him & Her Collection, which launched last year. This was a compendium of three games that multiplied the number of levels in Peachy Boy by three. It was bigger, more fiendish, and used almost exactly the same mechanics. With a touch of a trigger button, you could switch gravity clockwise or anti-clockwise, and your character would go with it.
But the Him & Her Collection scraped together a 3.5 out of 5, while Peachy Boy is sitting here on a 4. And there’s several reasons for that: it’s more immediately approachable, it knows its own limitations, and you get to squash yourself with rocks.
Peachy Boy doesn’t bother with story, or try to evoke a mood. It’s just a pixel peach: several mouthfuls of colour and character that won’t last more than an hour. Each level can’t have taken long to create in a pixel editor, but they’re as bold and inviting as the bouncy music. And the levels rattle along at a fair old pace.
There are only a couple of controls in Peachy Boy. There’s the ability to switch the entire arena – Peachy Boy included – through ninety degrees, which switches the flow of gravity in the process. But you can also waddle Peachy Boy about with the analogue stick. There’s no jump and no run, so the movement of P.B. is more to find a new location to start fiddling with gravity again.
You can probably imagine how the levels play out. Peachy Boy is so simple that you can play them in your head from a screenshot. Go ahead, try it out with the ones in the review. Flip clockwise and you can land on a wall, then move to flip it again and reach the key, which opens the end-of-level door. But then you’re in a quandary, as flipping again will send you into spikes or cause a rock to fall out of its sconce and land on Peachy Boy. So, you’re planning out your route, carefully tapping LT and RT, and eventually dropping into the exit.
Peachy Boy never sprawls outside of the game screen, which is one of the reasons that it’s so superior to Him & Her Collection. Knowing precisely where you’re going to drop is important, and there would be a thread of injustice if button-presses were based on luck. But it puts a lot of pressure on the level designers, as they now have to come up with something fiendish to keep the difficulty curve surging upward, all within one screen.
Luckily, they are well up to the task. More and more blocks get thrown into the mix, offering constant threats but also opportunities, as you can use them to block off spikes that would have otherwise skewered you. Additions like trampoline mushrooms and sticky moss get sprinkled in too: immediately understandable about what they do, and throwing curveballs into the puzzle.
Levels begin to boil your brain in a bag. We spent ages staring at one, both of us in complete silence for roughly a minute, before we realised a solution. And that’s the joy of Peachy Boy: you can play out everything in your head beforehand, like you were Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind. It makes you feel inordinately clever, when mostly the mechanics are simple and there’s few permutations for getting about a level.
There are quibbles, sure. We completed some levels through skill rather than brains, and we’re not completely convinced that they were the true solution. We dodged rocks just in time, or entered the exit door even though it was covered in rocks, and Peachy Boy never quite reassured us that we weren’t cheating.
It’s not long, not by a shot. Peachy Boy was all done in less than an hour. It was a dense, fun-packed hour, but we could have happily devoured another thirty-odd levels. We left with a slight tinge of sadness and emptiness, which hopefully a Peachy Boy 2 will satisfy. Each level has a star rating, so we suppose there’s that: we could always dip in and try to achieve three stars for the minimum number of rotations.
And it’s not exactly Hogwarts Legacy, is it? For all our lauding of Peachy Boy’s simplicity and approachability, it isn’t going to change your life. We’d argue that for £4.19, it would be going some if it did, but it’s certainly not going to appeal to everyone, as it’s minimalist to the point of being airheaded. There’s plenty of room for that kind of game in our lives, but there may not be in yours.
Peachy Boy is one of those games that should come with a warning for achievement hunters. Yes, you will get 1000 Gamerscore for three minutes of your time. But consider, for a moment, sticking around for a little longer. Because Peachy Boy is a puzzle-platforming treat; just as sweet and disposable as the name implies. See how far you get before the joy wears off. We’re willing to bet it won’t.
You can buy Peachy Boy from the Xbox Store