Thanks to Ratalaika Games for the review code
Title: Super Box Land Demake
Release Date: 10/08/2020
This cute puzzle game goes for an art style not unlike Fairune, at least when it comes to the colors and character design. It’s a very colorful and welcoming art style, and while it does use pixel art, I find the usage here to be smartly implemented, and a vast improvement over the original look of the game, Sokoban Land DX. The art in Demake simply look way more expressive, colorful, and professional than that of SLDX, leading to this being one of those odd instances where I like a pixel art take better than a traditional art style.
The music’s fairly solid here too, but there’s not much track variety: one main theme for the levels, one for the end of world stages, one for the menu theme, and that’s basically it. Some differing songs between worlds would have been very nice.
True to the namesake of the original version, Super Box Land Demake plays a lot like your typical sokoban title, tasking the player with grabbing and pushing blocks all around a map to fit into holes, unlocking the path to the next stage. It’s a formula as old as time, but in Demake it is used in fast paced stages that take little more than a minute to complete at most. You have a basic control scheme with just a grab and dash button, so this game’s very optimal for pick up and play moments.
On PS4 it may seem a bit odd to play such a title on a big screen, but there’s one thing this puzzler packs that helps makes the experience worth it at home, and that’s two-player co-op! You can technically do a two player game with you controlling both of the characters, but it’s way more fun to have an actual friend over to control the second character. With a buddy, the already fast-paced stages are even faster, since the co-op allows for extra solutions that wouldn’t usually be possible. (For example, if one solution would leave the player trapped in a corner, you can just have the second player rush to the exit and clear the stage if playing in co-op, so there’s more room for experimentation)
The best part is the levels aren’t massive, with the stages being single screen experiences rather than gargantuan, scrolling rooms to solve, leading to a good difficulty curve that still gets gradually tougher without throwing a giant difficulty spike in your face. Each new world does briefly start with some easy stages before getting back into the tougher parts, but otherwise this game is a very pleasant experience that shouldn’t make your hair fall out in frustration. You even have the ability to rewind if you make a mistake by using a battery, though unfortunately this is a very slow process: with no retry button that I can find, it’s often best to just go back to the title screen and reload the save if you’re deep into a puzzle and realize your mistake was at the beginning of the stage. Depending on the difficulty levels, you may have infinite batteries, a finite amount, or none at all.
Each world in Demake is twenty levels long, leading to five in total. While they do have different colors and the levels are all new, I can’t really say the backgrounds in each world look too different from one another, usually just going to decorate the trees in the background and calling it a day. You do have a brief vertical shooter intermission between worlds, which is fun but doesn’t offer much unless you’re on a higher difficulty seeking extra batteries, (as the easiest option gives you an infinite amount) which makes these intermissions pretty jarring and come out of nowhere.
In conclusion, Super Box Land Demake is a fun sokoban title, offering a really enjoyable block pushing experience that’s best played with a friend. The levels are short and to the point, the difficulty curve is fine, and the co-op leads to more solutions and thus more ways to play through the game. My only real gripes with Demake come from how there’s no true retry button, and how incredibly slow the rewind functionality is. That, along with this game easily becoming repetitive when played in a long session like what you’d do on a console, makes this game a fun time if you have a friend over, but if you’re a solo puzzler, maybe pick this up for a handheld system so it fits the pick up and play nature more. Either way, playing in co-op is a very enjoyable experience that pleasantly surprised me.
I give Super Box Land Demake a 6 out of 10.