Release Date: December 8, 2011
Publisher (Developer): Nintendo (Intelligent Systems)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone”
Pros: Over two hundred puzzles to go through, simple controls, 3D effects look awesome and you can create your own puzzles. You can also share puzzles via QR codes. You also unlock more options for custom puzzles as you play through the main puzzles. As you play, you unlock more options for custom puzzles in Pushmo Studio. You can reset a puzzle if you get stuck by stomping the reset switch or you can rewind briefly with the push of a button.
Cons: Can’t exchange puzzles via StreetPass or SpotPass.
Overall Score: Two thumbs up, 90/100, A-, * * * * out of 5
The blocks are there. They’re always there. The moment I close my eyes, I see them. They’re taunting me, arranging themselves in positions where it seems nearly impossible to pull them all out correctly so I can reach the top. They won’t stop taunting me unless I stop whatever I’m doing – be it working, eating or perhaps even sleeping, until I go back and finally climb my way to the top.
That’s what life is like with Pushmo a deceptively simple block pushing, pulling and sliding game. You don’t realize how it has gotten inside your head until you’re falling asleep while determining which blocks you’ll need to move to solve the next puzzle.
Kids are trapped in the Pushmo Park!
Once upon a time, there was a place filled with cute, fat, colorful little people. These people’s children would go to a place called Pushmo Park, where a pleasant builder had crafted puzzles out of blocks for the children to push and pull so they could climb up on them. Unfortunately, there was an unexpected, hidden danger.
All of these puzzles had a reset switch at the base, so if children got stuck while trying to reach the top, they could just reset the whole puzzle. That seems innocent enough, perhaps even smart.
Except there was this one, bratty kid. He went to all to all the Pushmo Park puzzles and, after seeing other kids reach the top, stomped on the reset switches. The puzzles then sucked back in on themselves, trapping the innocent kids inside.
Fortunately, Mallo was there. Normally, the Pushmo Park manager would free all the kids, but he’s getting old. Mallo was standing by and feeling especially charitable, so he agreed to go to every puzzle in Pushmo Park and set the trapped children free.
Push, pull and slide your way to victory!
Pushmo is all about sliding blocks in just the right way and order so Mallo can reach the top. It’s a bit of a combination puzzle and platformer. Mallo can push or pull blocks out up to three times. However, if he’s on a block that’s been pulled out three times, he can only pull out the block on top of it two times. Using general pushing and pulling techniques, as well as a slightly more advance sliding technique that involves being alongside a partially pulled out block, strategic jumps and eventually ladders or extend switches that cause all blocks of a certain color to pull out, Mallo must try to reach the goal and child at the top of each puzzle.
It sounds fairly simple, and it really is. Especially since Pushmo does a wonderful job of introducing new techniques and gameplay elements as you play. However, it can get challenging really fast and even some initial puzzles can be surprisingly difficult. Fortunately, there are ways to get around even the most difficult puzzles. If you find Mallo is trapped, or accidentally fell off a puzzle and can’t climb back up again, you can briefly rewind to get back to a recent position. If you’ve utterly doomed Mallo by reckless block adjustments, you can go to the reset switch on the bottom of the level to return all blocks to their starting positions. Finally, if you spend too much time on a puzzle without solving it, the game will eventually give you the option to pause and skip the puzzle completely.
Now, with over 200 included puzzles, Pushmo is also the kind of game that will keep you busy for quite a while. Except it’s kind of like potato chips or M&Ms. You aren’t going to do just one puzzle a day. You’ll do at least five. Maybe even six. I know I was clearing between 12 and 15 puzzles a night after purchasing it. So eventually, those will run out. Fortunately, it includes a level editor. You can create your own Pushmo puzzles, using whatever mechanics you’d like. You just enter the Pushmo Studio and start drawing. You can test out your puzzle at any time during the creation process to make sure it works. When you’re done, you’ll also have to play through it once, reaching the goal post, to ensure it’s actually beatable. If you complete it, you’re rewarded with a QR code for your puzzle and the ability to share it with others. If you aren’t the creative type, you can also use the Pushmo Studio to scan in other people’s QR codes (like the one I created below) to add new puzzles to your game.
In fact, that’s where Pushmo‘s only drawback appears. You can only share puzzles via QR codes. There are no StreetPass options allowing players to swap puzzles with other passersby. It’s quite disappointing, especially the Freakyforms downloadable game manages allow both StreetPass and QR code swapping. Still, it is a relatively minor infraction and it just means you’ll have to email your friends your Pushmo QR codes.
Pushmo gets inside your head.
In closing, Pushmo is like Tetris. If you play enough of it, you’ll see little pink sumo-men pushing and pulling oddly arranged block while you sleep. It’s quick, fun, addictive and a whole bunch of other complementary adjectives. Best of all, it makes you feel smarter for playing it, whether you’re solving a particularly tricky puzzle or putting together your own Pushmo challenge which actually ends up being rather ingenious. This is the kind of downloadable game we should be seeing on the 3DS.