Review: Pushmo (3DSWare)

Pushmo is an exclusive eShop offering on the Nintendo 3DS by the folks behind Paper Mario. You play Mallo, a sumo-like character in a red jumpsuit whose sole mission is to help the unfortunate children who have themselves stuck on the many towers of blocks, known as Pushmo, situated around Pushmo Park.

The puzzle aspect comes from the pushing and pulling of these blocks to form steps and platforms that Mallo can walk on to gradually make his way to the helpless child at the very top. You don’t go through it alone, of course. You are shown the ropes by Papa Blox, proprietor of Pushmo Park, through an extensive set of “Lessons”. It won’t be long before you’re scaling the blocks on your own.

The controls are pretty straightforward since you only use the face buttons to hold on to a block and move Mallow to push the blocks in and out and jump onto the space you made. There is also a Braid-like rewind feature in case you inadvertently fall down or pull a block too far. There’s also a reset button you can rage-stomp to start over.

There are over 250 levels of Pushmo, each more challenging than the last as they become less straightforward. Sometimes, Mallo will have to pull blocks from the side or figure out another way to get up when building simple stairs are just impossible. Many of the levels are advanced allusions of earlier levels usually involving a similar solution, but just more complicated. Other levels are 8-bit homages to Nintendo IPs, like Mario and Link.

The later levels will introduce players to elements that make for more impressive puzzles, such as the teleporting manholes and pullout switches that extends blocks of the same colour out to the maximum, such are the things that make a good brain-boiler. If a certain level makes you sick, Nintendo has a level skip option that is offered when the game sees you struggling on a certain level for an extended period of time.

Pushmo, of course, is exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS for perhaps the simplest of reasons: 3D Stereoscopy. The portable’s 3D visual functions enhances the viewing experience where the blocks of various colours really pop out when you extend them in front of your very eyes. The game still works without the need for 3D graphics, if you need a break from eye strain.

Having a great handful of puzzles for US$6.99 is nice, but Nintendo gave players something that is a step better. That’s right, Pushmo has a custom level editor that allows for the creation and storage of 90 custom levels. The Pushmo Studio gives players the ability to create their own Pushmo by tapping in the pixels that will form the blocks of various colours (restricted to 10). You can test the level out and save it when satisfied and send it out to friends as a QR Code that is saved onto the SD Card.

All these reasons and more are why Pushmo should find a home on your Nintendo 3DS. Pushmo is a decidedly original puzzle game that makes good use of its 3D capabilities without bragging about it too much and the level editor has the potential for the creation of infinite levels that is easily shared among the community. Puzzle fans should not pass this one up.

Graphics 9.0
3D stereoscopy used well to make the extendable stages pop out.
Sound 8.0
There’s not much variety to the soundtrack, but what little it has is pretty good.
Gameplay 10
There are plenty of puzzles ranging in difficulty providing plenty of brain-racking opportunities for puzzle fans.
Lasting Appeal 10
Large number of puzzles and a level editor to import and export countless of levels helps to push this game’s expiration date far into deep space.
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Pushmo is a Nintendo game developed by Intelligent Systems for the Nintendo 3DS. Only available on the Nintendo eShop, not available in all regions.