Release Date: November 22, 2012
Publisher (Developer): Nintendo (Intelligent Systems)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone”
Nintendo and Intelligent System’s Pushmo is undoubtedly one of the finest games on the 3DS eShop, if it isn’t the actual best. It was a perfect puzzle game that managed to get inside people’s heads while also allowing for ample replay value with a level editor. How could a sequel even compare?
Fortunately, Crashmo is just as good as Pushmo. Intelligent Systems didn’t try to do more of what it had already done. Instead, it crafted a whole new kind of block puzzle, with its own rules, switches and limitations, providing an experience that I would say is just as spectacular as the original.
Mallo’s courtship practices leave much to be desired.
Prepare yourself to learn how not to attempt to woo a woman. Mallo, our sumo wrestler hero from Pushmo was walking around one day when he saw a girl in a basket being carried by a flock of birds. As she came in for her descent, Mallo ran to greet her and find out who she was. Fortunately, Papa Blox, curator of Pushmo Park was there.
The bird woman is Poppy, his grandniece. She’s come to visit him in her Bird Balloon. It’s like a hot air balloon, except there are 100 birds on perches that fly her around. Papa Blox encourages Mallo to say hello and introduce himself, which he does with a huge sumo-stomp.
Said sumo-stomp scares away all of Poppy’s birds.
They’ve all flown to Papa Blox and his apprentice Corin’s new Crashmo puzzles and are too afraid to fly down on their own. Fortunately, Mallo’s an expert puzzle solver after his Pushmo adventure and agrees to scale each Crashmo and collect every bird so Poppy can go home.
Crashmo requires critical thinking.
Before I get started, let me say that Crashmo can be a lot more challenging than Pushmo. In Pushmo, players had a wall of blocks which could be pulled out up to three spaces, and the various layers and levels had to be pulled and pushed to certain degrees to reach a trapped child at the top. With Crashmo, a bird is trapped on the highest point of the puzzle. It is too afraid to come down and the various blocks must be pushed, pulled, slid and arranged around the entire field, with few limits, to reach it. Since these blocks could theoretically end up anywhere. They could be in front of, behind or adjacent to that block with the bird, meaning players really have to think smart to reach the top.
This, however, allows for more block strategies than were ever possible in Pushmo. In Crashmo, every block becomes more valuable and one can’t expect to look at a puzzle head-on and immediately expect to solve it. It becomes necessary to use the buttons to adjust the camera to see the puzzle from all sides. Mallo has to be sent in front of and behind the pieces. Even climbing a potentially solved puzzle means winding through the pieces to reach the top. It truly feels like the puzzles have evolved from one installment to the next.
The Papa Blox menu has been expanded in Crashmo. Here, players can do things beyond see tutorials. There are training levels, rescued birds to talk to, the ability to watch viewed story videos and more. The training levels are most helpful, however, as they offer a chance to go through concepts that will appear in the story mode’s Crashmo puzzles with the ability to see what must be done to solve them. It’s more helpful than one could imagine, though the first 20 levels or so are ridiculously easy. While in a training level, a stumped person can go to Papa Blox and ask for help. Papa will then send his apprentice Corin to solve the puzzle, step by step. Once the player sees how it is done, the puzzle is reset and he or she gets to solve it again, using what was just learned. It’s a fantastic bonus and I’m sure many people will use it.
Like the original, Crashmo also offers a level editor. Players can go in and make their own Crashmo puzzles with the stylus. It’s best to wait to start creating though, as things like doors, floating blocks, manholes and movement switches must be unlocked in the story mode’s puzzles before they can be used in custom puzzles. Once they are all unlocked, there’s no limit to what people can do. I was able to go in, draw my blocks with the stylus, add the appropriate triggers, decide the difficulty, test it to be sure it could be solved and then save it with a QR code that could be shared with the world. Unfortunately, I’ve found I’m not as good at creating Crashmo as I was at making Pushmo, but these things take time.
I do think there was a missed opportunity in the custom level creator, however. I’m not talking about the lack of StreetPass for sharing of custom puzzles, though that is a crime. I’m talking about depth. I would have liked the ability to create the blocks that would be used in the puzzle, then arrange them on the grid myself to make things a bit more challenging. It could have made for some interesting puzzles. Still, Crashmo‘s level editor is competent enough as is and no doubt will result in plenty of awesome, original puzzles.
Everyday I’m shuffling (blocks).
Crashmo is an absolute delight. It retains the whimsical appearance of its predecessor, Pushmo, as well as the original’s ability to frustrate players even one a two or three star challenge. The puzzles challenge players to be creative with solutions and there’s nothing more satisfying than that “Ah ha!” moment. Conversely, there’s nothing worse than giving up after five minutes deliberation in the Training mode and seeing the solution was far more simple than you could have imagined. It’s just a great game. Besides, Crashmo is one of those few 3DS eShop games that I would say is under-priced, considering everything you get for your $9. Give it a chance and see where the blocks fall.