Incredibox (est. 2009) is a musical game and website developed by the French company So Far So Good (est. 2011). There are characters split between beats, effects, melodies, and voices. Each character has a different, repeating piece of music and can be added or removed from the limited spaces in the track. The combinations of these characters create interesting and fun music, as all characters’ sounds fit perfectly together. It’s so simple, you can easily try it out yourself.
What I find most interesting about Incredibox is how the team uses different styles and genres in each version of the game. They manage to get everything from New York City hip-hop to dystopian cyberpunk perfectly correct and vibrant, which is what I want to delve into.
The Original is, of course, the original version of Incredibox, and Alpha is its remaster. They are both practically the same game, though Alpha has updated UI and animations to stay consistent with the later versions.
Note: The Original is made in Flash, but is fortunately preserved in BlueMaxima’s Flashpoint, a project for preserving web games including those created in Flash due to its closure in 2021.
The art style is rather plain, especially compared to other versions, as it is in black and white. The symbols for each character are also simple, as they are compound geometric lines and outlines.
The musical style is like the artstyle as it is not exactly discernable. It has the same a cappella beatbox feel as the other versions do, but without any particular style. The three bonuses don't help: they appear to be a Gregorian chant, something syncopated and sad, and Christmas pop, which don't point towards anything else.
Little Miss is a transitional point between the first versions and the later versions. It bears similarities to V0 and V1 but is far more distinct in its art and musical style.
The art style is still rather plain as most artwork and all of the characters are in black and white. However, this version adds red highlights in places such as the bonuses, likely a use of color theory to display both themes of energy (related to the hip-hop musical style) and love (related to the version title and its clear subject, a woman of romantic interest). The characters themselves have more diverse clothing. V0 and V1 had them only wear plain, black shirts. The characters of V2, on the other hand, don hip-hop fashion.
The musical style is explicitly stated to be New York City hip-hop. This style is reinforced by the aforementioned hip-hop fashion of the characters. All three bonuses are about topics discussed in hip-hop, most predominantly romance.
Sunrise is the first “modern” version of Incredibox with full color artwork, more adventurous music, and more detail in everything.
V3 used full color in its artwork, a departure from the mostly grayscale of previous versions. Each category (beats, effects, melodies, and voices) is more explicitly defined using that color. The symbols for each character are illustrations of one part of their outfit rather than being abstract shapes. An interesting story is told in each song, though it is not reflected in the artwork. Something intruiging, however, are how each category reflects a historical period. The beats and voices aren’t definite, but they seem to reflect fashion and music styles in the late 20th century such as disco and rap. The melodies all wear American clothing, whether it be from cowboys of westward expansion (third melody) or of the American continents’ natives (all other melodies). This is likely a reference to the historical conflict between the groups. The effects all wear futuristic clothing and the second wears clothing resembling that of Daft Punk.
The musical style is explicitly stated to be electropop, though it tends to simply resemble generally Western pop music. All three bonuses are about topics discussed in pop music, such as doing what makes you happy or socially maturing.
The Love is the second “modern” version of Incredibox with a similar pop feel as V3 but with a dash of local culture.
V4 used the same techinques that V3 did: full color artwork, more adventurous music, and more detail in everything. One difference, though, is each category's color. The characters do not share fashion, not even across categories, though there are some consistent types of outfits. The first beat and fourth effect seem electronic-related; the second effect, fifth melody, and third voice seem to be in formal attire; the second, third, and fourth beats, the first, third, and fourth melodies, and the first, fourth, and fifth voices seem pop or hip-hop-related; and the first, third, and fifth effect, second melody, and second voices seem water-related. That's largely speculation, though.
The musical style is explicitly stated to be French house. While French house is generally obscure genre of music, SFSG may be more familiar with it, as it is a French company. Plus, V4 was an adaptation of SFSG’s France-exclusive Mixforpeace AXE® partnership game for the Axe Boat Festival. It's no coincidence that the French developers used a French genre for their French audience. Like V2, V4’s subject matter is romantic, though more clearly so. For one, V4 is literally called “The Love.”Also, each bonus has romantic lyrics and imagery.
Brazil is the first “contemporary” version of Incredibox. It tried something foreign (in more ways than one) and succeeded as a new kind of Incredibox.
V5 used similar techniques in its art style and music to the modern versions. It nonetheless tries something new by going for a more foreign and less familiar aesthetic, which later versions seem to also do. The characters have consistently Brazilian clothing, be it traditional or modern. The art also references the Brazilian flag, such as its colors (all beats and melodies) and charge (first melody), among others.1
The musical style is explicitly stated to be samba, a Brazilian musical genre. Incredibox also describes that it, “…takes you to the suburbs of Rio de Janeiro…” Samba originated in Rio De Janeiro, so this makes sense. They even made the lyrics and names of the bonuses in Portuguese, the language most predominantly used in Brazil.
Alive is the second “contemporary” version of Incredibox. It continued the “foreign” Incredibox with some ideas from its classics.
V6’s artwork is more digitally focused than in other versions. Most, if not all, characters have some kind of cybernetic attatchment on their faces and bodies, strengthening the musical style. Not only are the characters futuristic, they are packed with references to Japan and Japanese culture. This is reinforced by the Incredibox website when V6 is referred to as, “Otaku Trap,” “otaku” being a Japanese word essentially meaning “nerd” or “geek.” Another example is in the characters’ clothing designs, such as the Japanese flag on the first beat’s cap and the fifth melody’s Hannya, among others.1
The musical style is explicitly stated to be trap and suggested to be a fusion of that and otacore2. Despite Japanese culture so frequently featuring in this version, no lyrics are in any form of Japanese. Like V2, the bonuses’ lyrics speak of topics frequently discussed in hip-hop music (of which trap is a subgenre). In this case, rather than being about romance, the lyrics appear to be about freedom of one’s actions and thoughts in adulthood and bettering oneself.
Jeevan is the third “contemporary” version of Incredibox. It took many of the foreign and cultural ideas from Brazil and used a completely different, though still interesting, country and culture.
V7 is much like V5 in how its main subject is a particular country. In this case, it is India rather than Brazil. The characters wear traditional Indian clothing, be it a turban (many) or sari (fourth voice). It even extends beyond their clothing, such as their bindis (many) or apparent status as a god (second melody). The bonuses also reference India, such as its colorful spices, flora, and fauna. There are even more references to India and Indian culture that are too plentiful to explore fully.1
Though not explicitly stated, the musical style of this version appears to be Bollywood music or at least some other kind of Indian music. The last two bonuses focus on deeper subject matter such as the necessity of sadness in life, whereas the first simply means, “Quite fast” and, “Very fast.”
Dystopia is the fourth “contemporary” version of Incredibox. It’s the hot, new version of Incredibox with the futuristic flare fans love!
All contemporary and modern Incredibox versions went for a rainbow of colors in their character design, but V8 changed a lot. They didn't go back to just black and white, though! All the characters are dark gray combined with a tinge of cyan and bright, orange highlights. The gray conveys the dreariness and metallic feel of the dystopian setting and the orange conveys its technological feel. This technological feel is also conveyed by the characters’ being actual and complete robots (fourth voice) and having cybernetic attatchments (many). The dystopia is shown through the characters wearing gas masks, implying acute air pollution and/or chemical warfare (first beat) and cloaking themselves in large blankets, implying desire to be hidden from a totalitarian government and/or lack of access to adequate heating (second voice). These are also shown, of course, in the single currently available bonus.
The musical genre or style of V8 is not known. The lyrics used in the single currently available bonus are cryptic at best.
1https://incredibox.fandom.com/wiki/Beats; https://incredibox.fandom.com/wiki/Effects; https://incredibox.fandom.com/wiki/Melodies; https://incredibox.fandom.com/wiki/Voices
2otaku (as previously defined) + -core
The copyrighted images used belong to So Far So Good and were used legally under fair use.
This webpage was originally published 3 January 2021 and was last modified 28 April 2021.