Pushmo is a game filled with questions. How do I solve this puzzle? Is that a 8-bit Mario’s face? Why is this old, obese blob making tons of death traps that easily ensnare and encase unsuspecting children?
Pushmo is a downloadable puzzle game in the 3DS eShop. In Pushmo you take on the role of Mallo, an amorphic red sumo wrestler with the mind of an Einstienian savant. When Mallo haplessly stumbles across a bearded, gelatinous grandpa who’s been spending his free time making unsafe toys for children to play on in Pushmo Park he wasn’t expecting much; but when, inevitably, all the small creatures get stuck in these artistic murder machines the blue codger turns to your genius to fix his honest mistake.
The game itself is deceptively simple. You stand on a three-square-deep grid and push and pull sets of blocks to re-arrange the image so you can traverse your way to the top. In this vein are three rules: you can’t pull or push a block more than three spaces, you can move block from the side, and you can’t pull a block out farther than the platform your standing on. For the first few levels it’s almost too easy: pull out a few blocks and go for some precarious platforming. Soon, however, you’re confronted with more complex puzzles that require you to pull out a block, jump to lower levels, and device plans on how to construct your 8-bit stairs to reach the tortured orphan. Once the game starts throwing in warp points and switches, all bets are off.
I’ll be honest too. I’m a nut for puzzles. I’m the kind of guy who figures out Portal’s puzzles within the first minute of entering a room. But within Pushmo’s 250 puzzle rooms, even I became completely perplexed at some points.
When you’re not musing over potential solutions you might notice some familiar faces within your Pushmo puzzles. Intelligent Systems got the rights for us to climb up some of our favorite 8-bit sprites. It’s sorta fantastic when the level starts and you’re devising the best strategy to climb Mario’s face. Furthermore, Pushmo has it’s own puzzle creation system where you can make and download user puzzles. With a huge variety of colors and options, the potential is quite noticeable. Some of the amazing user generated puzzles that already exist encompass the recreation of other 8-bit classics like Mega Man and Simon Belmont. These puzzles can even be downloaded via QR code which means a simple Google image search will net you tons of creative content. All in all, it adds an almost unlimited variety of mind-bending pushing and pulling for anyone willing to pay the entry fee.
No game is without its faults however. If you’re really into the 3D on your 3DS you won’t find much here. While not bad, it’s also not much. Both the 3D and art direction leave a lot to be desired. Not to mention that the music in Pushmo is almost nonexistent as well. You’ll pretty much be listening to the same track throughout all 250 puzzles. There’s very little story to be seen here, although that didn’t bother me, and you can expect to be very familiar with the fact that you “did great” and “are a natural” because you’ll be told this after almost every puzzle you solve.
Regardless of my few complains, Pushmo is the first downloadable title on the 3DS that I think is a must buy. For $6.99 you won’t find a better puzzle game on the system and the sheer volume of content is more than you could ever ask for. I’d love to see a Pushmo 2 in the future and implore you to not let this gem pass you by. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to go back to climbing the remaining bosses from Mega Man 2.
Available on: 3DS (eShop)
Developed by: Intelligent Systems
Published by: Nintendo
Release date: December 2011
EG Score: 4 out of 5 / “Worth Buying”