Indiebox Review: Nuclear Throne (January #IndieBox)

Right before the year ended, Indiebox decided to raise the prices of their boxes, saying that they would be using the extra money to raise the quality of their boxes. Not wanting to miss out on an opportunity to add a monthly series to my site, I signed up for Indiebox right before the price raise so I could look at each one every month. I do want to note, this is not a review of the game Nuclear Throne (that will come later). This is a look at the actual box and the contents within.

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Starting off, I want to point out that I did buy the Indiebox once before deciding to start this. Back in October, I bought the Axiom Verge box, and was disappointed. One of the items you’re meant to get in the Indiebox is a USB physical copy of the game in question, free of any DRM. My Axiom Verge box did not come with the USB of the game, only the Steam key. When I talked to Indiebox support about it, they “solved” my problem by e-mailing me a link to the DRM-free content, rather than sending me the actual USB. I mention this because 90% of the reason I think Indiebox is a cool idea is because of the concept of having a physical copy of a game that was only released digitally, and it still frustrates me that they forgot it in my October box.

Luckily, this month I did receive the USB. It comes in the shape of one of Nuclear Throne’s unlockable characters, Chicken, and demonstrates his ability to fight on after losing his head by having the USB hidden in his neck. It was so hidden, in fact, that at first I thought they had forgotten to send me the game again, and I only realized where it was upon reading the Indiebox Newsletter’s list of box items. Regardless, the USB has a neat design and has an actual collectible feel to it as a result. It’s definitely my favorite aspect of the box.

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Moving beyond that, the box is at least interesting. The title of the game is on a removable rectangle of plastic, so if you want, you can have the box look like it’s just the mouth. It’s well-designed and visually appealing. The box is very stiff, though, making it hard to open the top without bending the cardboard to a permanently noticeable degree. Also, if you don’t pack it back exactly right, the surrounding plastic won’t fit back around the box due to the bulges the items create, forcing you to repack the box. I feel like the rectangular plastic was an interesting touch in theory, but in practice, it would probable be better just to have the name on the box instead.

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The box came with three mini-figurines of bosses within the game. They’re made with decent material, feel light and soft in your hand, and there aren’t any extruding pieces or movable parts that might easily break. They would make a decent desk accessory, but in the end, they’re just something pretty to look at, and they’re so small that if you keep them out of the box, you’re bound to lose one or two eventually.

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As with every collector’s edition of a video game ever, Nuclear Throne’s box comes with a soundtrack CD. Personally, I’m not a fan of just listening to a game’s soundtrack. There are a few standout tracks in every game, and then a lot of what amounts to ambient noise. The music is best appreciated by hearing it during gameplay, as far as I’m concerned, but if you want the CD, here it is. The music’s pretty good, too, so if you’re really into video game music, this will be right up your alley.

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Also included within the box is a plushie Maggot, one of the regular enemies found within the game. Personally, I feel that going the plushie route was a poor choice for Indiebox, as it draws some negative comparison to LootCrate, infamous for including useless “collectible” garbage like this. The mini-figurines were at least interesting and well-made, allowing them some leniency as a genuine collector’s piece. Nobody collects plushies. It’s a very simple design, with an additional poor choice of having the zipper on top of the Maggot, rather than on the bottom. At least I assume that’s the top. It looks better that way than it does flipped, either way, so I’m calling it the top. At any rate, I would recommend Indiebox veer away from the plushies in future releases, as no matter how hard you try to sell it as one, there is nothing collectible about a cheap, half-assed attempt at being cute.

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I love instruction manuals. In the past couple years, as I’ve grown a bit of a collector’s mindset to my game-buying habits, I’ve started to refuse buying a lot of games unless they have the original case and manual. Flipping through a manual is just such a great feeling, so I have a bit of bias in that I will always love it when a game comes with a physical manual. If this box just had the manual and USB inside, that would be enough to satisfy me. Alas, this is the last good thing within the box. The rest, like the Maggot plushie, is LootCrate-style garbage.

“The rest” really just refers to these themed stickers. I hate stickers. The only thing less collectible than a sticker is a temporary tattoo. These are even worse than the plushie, which really infuriated me. Indiebox, if I wanted stickers and plushies, I’d be buying LootCrate. I’ve heard that you guys sometimes do things like themed controllers for your boxes. Do more things like that, things I can put to actual practical use and won’t damage the collectible value of my box when used, or at least more tangible objects like the figurines. I don’t want your garbage stickers. Please spend the sticker money elsewhere. Sincerely, Wombat Lord.

Overall, though, it’s a decent box. I can’t hate it, but it’s definitely a hit-and-miss effort. I will mention that not only did this box come with a USB copy and Steam key of the game, but also a Playstation Store code, giving you three copies of the game across two platforms. Add in the manual, mini-figurines, soundtrack CD, and the box itself, and this Indiebox was definitely worth the price. It’s just a shame they had to throw some leftover garbage in there, as well.

 

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Author: Wombat Lord

I am a not-so-great writer of video game nonsense and, hopefully in the near future, fictional fantasy stories that are heavily derivative and not really nothing you haven't read before. Sometimes I write about music, too, though that ends up looking even worse than the other stuff.

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