Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Chon's Boxes

I must admit, I did kind of like Chon's Boxes. Of course, I liked it better when it was called Chip's Challenge and I played it on my Amstrad 464+. Strange, really - here we are fifteen or twenty years later and the game's graphics have actually deteriorated with age.

But whatever. Chon's Boxes is a simple (or is that "special") puzzle game. You play a great hero called Chon:

Chon has an evil nemesis called Chan:

We know he's evil because half of his body is shrouded in shadow. Anyway, Chan has kidnapped Chon's girlfriend Chun (while the developers have alienated anyone who can't pronounce "ch" sounds correctly.) He has hidden her away in his tower, and Chon must sally forth and rescue her, as all heroes do. Unfortunately, Chan has sought to stop Chon from finding his love, blocking his path with the insurmountable obstacles that are... WOODEN BOXES!!

I am way too sober to enjoy this game.

Gee, I have to move these boxes out of the way so I can get to the door. How will I cope with such a brain bender of a puzzle?

Pretty easily. But then, that was only the first level. The only problem is, most of the levels are like this. Oh, don't get me wrong, some will prove a little challenging, but more often than not you'll figure out how to get through in less than a minute.

So you go through each room in this seemingly endless tower (it certainly didn't look that big from the outside) pushing boxes around. That's it. There's nothing else. Get through one room full of boxes:

And you'll be confronted by another room with slightly more boxes:

And so on and so forth until the end of time. I didn't come across any monsters or guards. I didn't get caught in any pits or traps. All that I had to contend with was room after room of boxes, and if Chan is supposed to be my nemesis, I could expect a little more effort. I mean, Chon is a boxer and a ninja and everything. Either Chan has an unhealthy fascination with large wooden containers, or he's exploiting the fact that Chon's parents were killed in a freak accident involving a crate of oranges and a spider monkey.

On the bright side, each level has its own code, so you won't have to play the same level twice. Indeed, you could just put in the code above and skip the first ten levels completely. Hey, don't say I never give my readers anything.

It wasn't until Level 11 that I got stumped. I stared at those boxes for minutes but I couldn't see how to get through them.

Obviously, as you can see, I fucked up here. But it's no biggy; the guys at Raptware were kind enough to include a restart button. The only problem with restarting is that it costs you a life, and you've only got three lives.

So let me get this straight - I have only three chances to get through a level before I have to go through the hassle of going back to the main menu and entering the level code? What happens if I don't remember the code? I have to start on a level I already completed, or worse, at the very beginning again. What a crock!

I suppose I can see the good qualities of Chon's Boxes. At least it won't keep you stuck in the first few levels until you reach the point of hysteria. But where's the satisfaction in breezing through a game? And why the sudden upswing on the learning curve? On top of that, the game just looks poor. There wasn't a whole lot of work put into the animation or the art design, and it shows. Chon looks like the younger, nerdier cousin of a Dragonball Z character, and the others don't fare much better. The controls are simple - just use the directional buttons to move around - but the big yellow pointer is pretty much pointless, no pun intended.

Chon's Boxes is like vanilla ice cream - it's all right, but you can't help but wish for something more. Actually scratch that - Chon's Boxes is nothing like vanilla ice cream. It may be boring but at least vanilla ice cream is satisfying. Chon's Boxes is like, I don't know, paper, or something - totally without substance and guaranteed to make you feel bad.

Don't ask me where the food analogy came from - I just needed a decent way to end the review. I'm going to stop now.

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