BoxPop is a free-to-play puzzle game developed by FreshPlanet. Its gameplay is based on the “knight’s tour” challenge in chess which requires a single knight to touch every square of the chess board one time each. Players will use the knight’s L-shaped movement to pop boxes on variously sized grids, aiming to pop every box as if they were completing a knight’s tour.
While this requires more guesswork than actual chess, we have a few strategies that can help you master this popping puzzler.
- Break large levels down into sections. If you’re working on a 10×10 square, don’t look at it in terms of its overall size. Focus on one section at a time: try to clear one corner and its surrounding boxes, then move to another corner and do the same. Treat these larger levels like four smaller levels tied together.
- On smaller, tighter levels: move in a circle. This also applies to levels with large holes near their center. Try to start with the outer edge and circle your way inward so boxes are never spread too far apart. There’s actually a recommendation for the knight’s tour known as Warnsdorff’s rule which suggests moving to the box with fewest future moves available, which would mean focusing on outer edges and corners before moving inward.
- The exception to the above rule is moving to a box with zero possible moves. If a box is stranded in a corner or elsewhere with no moves from it besides your current location, moving to it will end your game. Always check to make sure that the box you’re moving to has a move that can be taken from it.
- On that note: don’t island boxes. Your main focus should be never abandoning a single box by itself. If there is one path back to that box, you can end the grid on that square. With multiple islands, though, some will be inaccessible dead ends. In the image above, it will be impossible to pop all boxes because we have two separate islands.
- On asymmetric levels, treat the asymmetries like potential islands. Pop them as soon as possible. Pond and Elephant are good examples of this: Pond has a dangerous section in the lower-right corner, and Elephant’s legs should be popped early.
- Each stage/tour can start in a different location each time you play it. Stages are always solvable—as the game itself notes, many tours have hundreds of thousands of potential solutions—but it’s also possible that certain starting locations are more beneficial. If you’re having trouble with a stage, trying restarting to get a new origin point. For instance, on Pond mentioned above, starting in the lower-right corner makes solving the entire stage a bit easier.
- Keep at it. There’s no undo or reset button during a tour. Once you start, you just keep popping boxes until you run out of boxes or hit a dead end. You might think you’ve made a critical mistake early on, but just keep popping—you might be surprised by how many boxes you manage to collect. If you do need to replay a level, there’s no limit to how many times you can attempt a tour, so feel free to keep trying until you earn three stars. The game will always remember your best attempt and save that as the high score.
- This may seem obvious, but don’t forget the knight’s style of movement: always L-shaped, ending up diagonal from its current location. A group of four boxes bunched together with no boxes outside it is just as game-ending as a stranded box since a knight can’t move in such a tight arc.
- To progress to the next level, you’ll need to earn at least one star on your current stage. Most stages require you to pop about 65% of the total boxes for one star, about 85% for two stars, and you’ll always need 100% of the boxes for three stars. To unlock a higher level of grids, (8×8, 10×10, etc.), you need to earn at least one star on every level in the grids prior, and a certain number of stars total. You can see how many total stars are needed by tapping on locked grids in the main menu.
- The colorful grids on the main menu allow access to individual stages, but they also indicate how many boxes you’ve popped for that grid total. When the square is covered in grid lines, you have popped every box in that group. Squares with blanks have at least one stage with some boxes unpopped. It’s really just a quick and clever way to check if you’ve mastered / three-starred an entire section of stages. In the image above, you can see we are still missing boxes on the bottom three grids, which each contain an unlined row.