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Pushmo Review

See PixlBit's Review Policies

On 04/13/2012 at 11:45 PM by Matt McLennan

All this pushing and pulling reminds me of another Nintendo puzzle game or two…

A puzzle-platforming treat for any 3DS owner. Buy it now!

Pushmo, the first 3DS digital download title from Intelligent Systems, could easily be mistaken for an Art Style game, which are found by the dozen on the Wii and DS shops. Like those games, it takes a simple premise (puzzle-platforming) and graphics and makes an extremely in-depth and meaty experience. The result is one of the best eShop titles available right now, deserving of a download from all 3DS owners.

What makes Pushmo worthy of your time is its phenomenal gameplay. This puzzle-platformer requires creative use of pushing and pulling blocks, allowing Mallo to jump to and fro to reach a trapped child somewhere in the puzzle. The controls are superb and simple to use, specifically the shoulder buttons, which provide two useful abilities. One allows you to zoom out to see a wider view of the whole puzzle, while the other gives you the ability to rewind your actions up to a certain point just in case you flubbed a jump or made a mistake while solving the puzzle.

Pushmo has a steady difficulty curve. By the end of the game, you'll see some brutally difficult puzzles, but things start off nice and easy at the beginning. Aside from following the in-game rules (e.g., you can’t move blocks a certain way), different environmental objects like man-holes and switches require creative manipulation of Pushmo blocks to navigate. Pushmo is a game that makes you think, and while at times it can get a bit frustrating, it's satisfying to complete puzzles. Completing the hard levels can take up to a half-hour if you're fishing for an answer, but typically puzzles are quick work.

Of the two puzzle types offered, mural puzzles are easily the most creative and interesting to complete. You'll see a wide variety of objects represented in block form, from normal everyday household objects, to animals and NES sprites. Challenge puzzles on the other hand are more like brain teasers and don't make the same impact the mural puzzles do. Their bland representation only features four basic colors, organized in much simpler shapes. They're often much easier to solve than the more intricate murals, which can at times make them a bit like busy work.

After the main game is done, all the features in Pushmo’s biggest attraction, the Pushmo Builder, open. Creating Pushmo puzzles is done entirely with the stylus, and is extremely easy thanks to the clean menus. The option of playing your created stage also proves useful in the creation process. Sharing, however, is flawed; the only way puzzles can be shared is via QR scanning. Granted, it's easy enough to take out the 3DS SD card (where the QR images are stored) and upload them onto an image sharing website or forum. A better solution would've been using the Street and Spotpassing abilities of the 3DS. It doesn’t take too much away from the game, but it is a feature that should’ve been in regardless.

Don’t expect Pushmo to win any awards for its audio and visuals. While good, they're not great. By taking creative use of color, Intelligent Systems is able to accentuate the quirky character designs and mural puzzles, which resemble those found in a Picross game. While Pushmo incorporates 3D visuals, they are of little consequence.

Just like the visuals, the audio is charming. Bouncy sound effects never wear out their welcome, and the simple MIDI soundtrack evokes NES chiptunes.

Pushmo is a game that stands tall with its stellar gameplay. Anybody who enjoyed handheld puzzle games like Mole Mania and Donkey Kong ’94 should do themselves a favor and experience Pushmo. Thanks to the QR function, the game has near-unlimited replay value.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



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