I’ve been seeing Pushmo and it’s sequel Crashmo in a lot of best 3DS games lists. Even though I’ve been curious about these two games, I had a thing against buying digital-only games so I kept sticking to retail copies. That mindset changed in the middle of 2014 and I’ve become a little more open to getting digital-only games. The first digital game that I purchased was Pushmo, which I’d like to talk about now.
Pushmo is a puzzle game that utilizes platforming mechanics in it’s puzzle solving. You control a character named Mallo who encounters several objects of different shapes and sizes called Pushmo. Mallo needs to push and pull on these structures in order to create a path that will allow Mallo to jump on top of them and reach a certain area of the puzzle to solve it. There are four layers in which you can push or pull a Pushmo – pushed fully into the background, pulled one layer out, two layers out, and three layers out. Depending on how the Pushmo are pulled, you’ll be able to move Mallo right to your intended spot.
Two additional elements are introduced in later puzzles, the first of which are color-coded switches which when stepped on, results in the same colored Pushmo to be pushed all the way out to the third layer and in turn create new paths that you can jump/step on. The second new element involves pairs of same colored hatches. If both hatches are open, you can go into one hatch and come out of the other hatch, granting you access to parts of the puzzle that normally can’t be reached.
If Pushmo sounds simple, it’s not. The game mechanics are simple and the first few puzzles are fairly straightforward but once you progress further into the game, the challenge ramps up to the point that I couldn’t play the game after spending a day at work. It became so mentally taxing that I stopped playing and only went back to it because I wanted to continue writing about games that I’ve played and Pushmo was next on the list, but I’m glad I did because I ended up solving the puzzle I was stuck on and was able to make good progress since.
One thing that I haven’t mentioned is that the puzzles in Pushmo are grouped in batches of 18, and some of those groups involve puzzles that are designed to look like everyday objects or block representations of famous Nintendo characters and video game elements. While this doesn’t really impact gameplay directly, it did serve as a good incentive for me to keep solving the puzzles because I wanted to see what the next puzzle is going to look like.
This kind of ties into Pushmo Studio, where you can create your own Pushmo puzzles. With an interface that’s very easy to use, Pushmo Studio adds a lot to the replayability of the game because you can simply create more puzzles. While you can opt for the strictly logical approach, Pushmo Studio offers a good enough color palette for users to be able to come up with good pixel art/puzzles.
Pushmo allows for easy sharing of custom puzzles via QR codes that it generates, allowing users to simply upload QR codes of their creations. If you’re not the creative type but you love Pushmo‘s gameplay, you can easily import shared Pushmo puzzles online by simply scanning the available QR codes from different websites online. http://pushmo.3dsfans.com, a website dedicated to the sharing of Pushmo custom puzzles, has over 1,000 levels that you can easily import for free.
And thank goodness for Pushmo Studio because without it, Pushmo doesn’t offer a lot of replayability on its own. Once you’ve solved a puzzle, there’s really no reason to play it again, other than to test yourself against the same puzzle. There’s no high score mechanic to motivate players to keep besting their performance, which could have been easily implemented in the form of a timer (people would then try to beat their best solve times on each puzzle) or a moves counter (people would try to solve puzzles in the least amount of moves possible).
Despite the lack of replayability, Pushmo is really a steal at just $6.99. There are enough puzzles in the game to keep you busy for hours, and Pushmo Studio will allow you to grab more puzzles once you’ve solved all the puzzles that come with the game. I myself haven’t even solved all the puzzles in the game and I think I’ve already burned more than twenty hours on this.
Unfortunately, Pushmo isn’t a game that I’d recommend to everybody. Most people play games to have fun and to relieve stress, and Pushmo is a game that can be mentally exhausting. Sure, the earlier puzzles are quite easy, but you won’t get as much value from the game if you’re only limited to playing some of the puzzles. If you’re the type of person who doesn’t like to think too much when playing video games, Pushmo is definitely not for you.
Pushmo isn’t even something that puzzle enthusiasts will automatically like; after all, there are different kinds of puzzles and Pushmo‘s puzzles focus on spatial intelligence and little else. There are some who may prefer some variety and thus, may be satisfied with the Brain Age games or something similar. But if you’re the type who enjoys puzzle elements in your platform or action adventure games, you might want to look into Pushmo. Personally, Pushmo is a good addition to my collection as it does exercise my brain in ways that my other games don’t. I don’t play Pushmo as often, but I play it every now and then if I need that mental spark.