The 90’s adventure platformer has had somewhat of a revival this year, as games have tried to recapture the formula that tugged on the nostalgia heartstrings. Unbox: Newbie’s Adventure is the latest of these to attempt just that.
Starting off as a freshly unfolded box, Newbie is the prime package we’ve been waiting for. You work for GPS, who are currently the number one delivery service, but a group of rogue parcels, The Wild Cards (lead by infamous cardboard leader Wild Boss) have set their sights on taking over the distribution of boxes and THE WORLD!
You are greeted by Bounce in GPS’s hub. He is your tour guide, giving you an introduction to the worlds you visit and the challenges that lie ahead. Keeping to the 90’s aesthetic, there’s no voice over; instead, a cacophony of noises are fused together to create dialect. The interactions could have used more thought. Considering this is a game about boxes, the lack of box puns within the dialogue was disappointing, leaving the interactions that you had seem flat and uninteresting. I’m not saying that the jokes should have been on a constant conveyor belt, but it didn’t use any kind of self aware humour that would have made so much more sense.
Heading into the worlds, each contain the same objectives. Stamps are you main commodity, obtaining these through main challenge missions, as well as finding hidden ones located around the map. Earning enough Stamps will trigger a boss encounter with Wild Boss, granting you the opportunity to collect the Master Stamp to unlock a new world. The mission structures are basic, playing out as a series of mini games rather than full blown missions. Missions vary from timed to non timed events. The timed events are very lenient, I found myself rarely failing because the timer ran out, but rather due to my own accidental demise. Non timed events end up being a simple case of retrieving items, or slamming all of the Wild Cards in sight. With a runtime of around five minutes per mission and only nine featured on each world, I felt empty, with a vast space still to explore, but only collectibles to fill it.
The problem lies after these challenges are completed. When entering the second location, I needed to obtain 12 Stamps to get my cardboard hands on Wild Boss, but with only nine mission challenges, the other 3 Stamps had to be found by exploration. I talked to Bounce, who provided information on the whereabouts, but this was only in the form of a close up screenshot of one of the Stamps locations. This is your only lead. Finding these hidden Stamps can become a tedious task, and I found it quickly sucked the enjoyment away.
Trapped Zippies and Gold tapes are the other items scattered throughout the worlds. They are additions intended entice you to explore the world, but only adds towards your completion goal and lengthens the gameplay with no other real significance.
The worlds are vast spaces, with each location providing variety both physically and graphically. From the sandy beaches of Paradise Islands, the snow capped mountains of Parcel Peaks, to the dense ancient ruins of Isla Cartulina, Newbies Adventure only gets better in setting the further into the game you get. However, whilst my eyes may have enjoyed the continually improving surroundings, my ears were pleading me to stop. The music across the worlds played on a constant loop, with no change to different scores, or even different tempos. Each world would contain a different score, but only one for each, so I had to urge my ears to block out the music and hold back my annoyance.
Being a box, movement is limited to basic functions. You can roll and jump around, with the addition of the Unbox technique enabling you to get higher and traverse the worlds much faster. You can use the Unboxing ability only six times before having to refill, but there are refills dotted around the worlds to pick up, or reaching a checkpoint to instantly refill your meter. The feature is vital when you’re looking for those hard to reach Stamps, or that one golden tape. At times the Wild Cards will gang up on you, but never fear, the Slam is here. Using Slam will instantly turn those menacing foes into rubber ducklings (yes, you read that right). Aside from the Slam, there isn’t any other combat techniques, however the enemies can only withstand one hit, so your moves are as basic as they come. I feel that they miss a beat with the movement and combat. With such huge areas to explore, there were opportunities to include more than just one basic jumping and combat mechanic.
Besides the Single Player there is also couch co-op, where you and up to three other friends can join in the adventure together. These are set up as mini games where you can battle it out across different maps. Its a nice throwback, having competitive gaming within your living room, with the numerous modes keeping the gameplay varied and exciting.