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Just a flow of ideas about simple but strong core gameplay mechanics after watching the Hakoboi! trailer

Mauro Fanelli

January 15, 2015

2 Min Read

This is a repost from our official MixedBag Blog: Hakoboi! and the inspiring art of simplicity

Let's start 2015 with a post that's not about one of our games, shall we?

Catching up with the Nintendo Direct news on the web yesterday, I was charmed by one of the less known title announced. It was shown only in Japan, and I could't even read the game title so I asked on Twitter for help. It's Hakoboi!, and at the end of the YouTube trailer I glanced the name HAL Laboratory. And I instantly knew why It was so brilliant.

First, here's the trailer:

So it's a black and white puzzle platformer, with a simple but bold, cute and charming presentation and with a very strong core mechanic: you create boxes in different directions from your... box-shaped-hero (Hakoboi actually means 'Box Boy', thanks internet), to interact with the world and solve puzzles. And you jump. That's it.

It looks so simple at first, and it's the classic game that's difficult to explain by words as is easy to grasps while watching a trailer or, better,  playing it. By the end of the video this core mechanic gets applied in astounding ways, opening up an inordinate amount of possibilities, driven by clever game and level design.

I've not played it yet, while it's already out in Japan for less than 5€ on 3DS, but I can imagine the control system as a simple two button affair plus the classic cross shaped Nintendo d-pad.
It's a game that could've been literally done on a GameBoy, the original one, it's a game that screams in my head: 'oh it's such a simple idea, why I didn't thought about it first?'.
I had the same thought while trying out Pix the Cat from Pastagames for the first time. It's Pac-Man meets Snake with zooming in-and-out levels: brilliant concept.


And still, concepts and gameplay mechanics as simple as them took a long time to materialise, which is reassuring for late-to-the-party game developers like me. There are a tons of fun gameplay ideas still to be discovered out there, and they don't need super powerful hardware or overly complex control systems to delight.

Just a lot of creativity.

Thanks for inspiring me, HAL Laboratory and Pastagames.

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