I’ve only just been making my way through one puzzle platformer – the rather lovely, Tetris-themed Tetra’s Escape – and another has come along for me to take a look at. Gabbuchi is a different beast altogether, however.
With a very stylised, angular – yet almost hand-drawn – aesthetic, which also has a deliberately limited colour palette, Gabbuchi would have been something quite unique, visually, on the Switch – if it wasn’t for the release of the latest game in the Boxboy series, the previous entries of which have traditionally been for Nintendo’s handhelds. Though it may look closely related in visual terms, Gabbuchi is incredibly different to the box-producing gameplay of Boxboy.
The eponymous character is an adorably fierce-looking, hungry little creature. Each stage is a short, one-screen puzzle in which Gabbuchi must find a way to reach – and eat – the stage’s heart cookie. In order to do so, it’s often necessary to switch Gabbuchi between his colours with a tap of the L or R button – as he’ll eat blocks in his current colour. Working out how to do this without either falling off the level or getting yourself into a situation where it’s impossible to reach the heart cookie is what you’ll be doing most. Some stages are absolutely fiendish in their design – often, you will require both fast thinking and fast reflexes in order to succeed. For those players looking for an even more hardcore challenge, there are also achievements to aim for on every stage, such as only switching colours a certain amount of times or ensuring that Gabbuchi is fully satisfied (by eating a certain number of blocks and still making it to the cookie to finish the level), as a few examples.
There are 180 stages and it’ll take quite some time to get through these; it’s a huge amount of content for the price of the game. Not only that, but you can also create your own stages with the built-in level editor – which is a brilliant addition to the content already on offer.
Though I’ve only made my way through the first few worlds – I’m a fraction of the way through the game so far – I’m having a lot of fun with Gabbuchi. The visuals have a nicely minimalist style and Gabbuchi himself is full of character, despite his visual simplicity. The sound and music are as charming as the visuals; I must say I’m really impressed with what’s on offer here.
It can be quite a relaxing game, but equally, some stages can cause frustration; there are some levels where you’ll be either stumped as to how to complete them or you’ll struggle with being fast enough to switch Gabbuchi’s colours in time to stop yourself gobbling the wrong block(s). However, this is all intended as part of the challenge of the game, so it’s not something I can hold against it. Restarting a level is quick and little progress is often lost by doing so, given the small, self-contained nature of each stage – you will, however, be restarting quite a lot in some cases.
Those of you who stumble upon Gabbuchi and dismiss it as an homage to Boxboy – whose aesthetic it hews very close to, at least at first glance – will be unfairly judging it, in my opinion. Though it is of course a puzzle platformer, as Boxboy is, the core gameplay is very different and there’s astonishing value here considering the wealth of content. Not to mention the fact that there’s a level designer included, further adding to the longevity and value of the game. I’m glad to report that Gabbuchi is equally at home playing on a big screen as it is on the move, with its bite-sized (pun intended) stages and clean, minimalist look. Highly recommended.
Thanks to Indie Gamer Chick for kindly providing the code for Gabbuchi as part of the Indie Select E3 initiative.
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