Pushmo is a brand-new downloadable game on the Nintendo 3DS eShop from developer Intelligent Systems (Paper Mario, Fire Emblem, Advance Wars). Just based on the developer alone your interest should be piqued but, if you’re still unsure about whether or not Pushmo should force you to log onto the Nintendo 3DS’ eShop, keep reading.
At its core, Pushmo is a simple puzzle-platformer that anyone can pick up and play. The game’s protagonist is a little rotund character named Mallo who must make his way to the summit of giant puzzle structures by pushing and pulling blocks that make up the puzzles in order to save lost children that have been trapped at the top of them. It’s probably best if you watch this video to see what I mean:
First and foremost, don’t be turned off by its cuteness, Pushmo is actually a devilishly difficult puzzle game once you really dig into it. The first thirty or so puzzles should give players no trouble at all but once the game hits its stride and all of the various gameplay elements fall into place, expect to be stuck on some of these puzzles for 20+ minutes each. The game constantly teaches the player new techniques through experience and by the time they reach some of the later puzzles, players will have to use every puzzle-solving trick in their arsenal to reach the goal. Pulling out blocks eventually becomes an afterthought once all of the game mechanics are in place and gameplay will revolve more around mini-puzzles inside of the giant puzzle structures themselves.
For a downloadable title, Pushmo is certainly not short on content either: there are 200+ pre-made puzzles to solve. For $6.99, players are certainly getting their money’s worth. However, the pre-made puzzles aren’t the reason why I’ve found myself addicted to the title over the past week, the user-generated content is. Using the 3DS’ QR code system, players can create their own Pushmo puzzles in the Pushmo Studio and share them with friends all over the world. And, while it’s clear that Intelligent Systems put a lot of effort into the levels they created for the game, the player-made levels act as the game’s defining feature. Allowing the fan-base’s creativity to shine and provide unlimited replay value for Pushmo was a great move on the part of Intelligent Systems and something that really should be included in every puzzle game released from here on out. Some players are making levels that use old SNES sprites as the base for the puzzles and others are creating treacherous platforming stages. Intelligent Systems has provided players with all of the tools they they used to create the pre-made puzzle so players can truly make challenges as deep as the original developer intended.
It’s also worth noting that the 3D in Pushmo is absolutely fantastic and puts many full-price retail 3DS titles to shame with its quality. I played the game entirely in 3D and never once was I even remotely tempted to slide back into 2D. This is a game that was really crafted with the system it was being developed for in mind and really acts as a great centerpiece for the system’s 3D capabilities.
Overall, your enjoyment of Pushmo really depends on whether or not you like puzzle games. If you prefer to shoot things and expect to see grand set pieces every five minutes, this probably isn’t the game for you. However, if you like a good challenge, if you are a fan of retro games, want to see your favorite SNES sprites in an entirely different light, and if you need something to play during your commute or when you just want to kick back and relax, you really can’t go wrong with Pushmo. It’s a fantastic little puzzle game and just the kick in the pants that the 3DS eShop has needed since its launch.
VG Tribune gives Pushmo 9.0 out of 10
This review was based off of a copy of the title provided to us by Nintendo of America.