i’m a pretty big fan of intelligent systems, the developer behind the fire emblem and advance wars series, so i had my eye on their eshop release pushmo (aka pullblox), for 3ds, which was released to rave reviews almost a year ago. people have been calling this the “killer app” for the 3ds’s eshop, but for a while i was unimpressed. the gameplay is simple to understand and involves you pushing and pulling blocks in order to ascend each level to get to the goal at the top. maybe that was just b/c i’ve played a ton of puzzle games and maybe it’s b/c a big chunk of the first levels were mindlessly easy, but once the difficulty ramped up i found myself enjoying the game more and more (esp. once the two “gadgets”, ladders and buttons that push out all the blocks of a particular color) are introduced).
the game includes a rewind button that really help make the game enjoyable and lowers the frustration factor, although many times you’ll end up having to restart a level b/c you didn’t know in advance that you had to keep a previous block pulled out to a certain degree. the levels are fairly limited in how long they can be, so that restraint doesn’t significantly detract from the gameplay and also help keep the frustration factor low. in addition, if you’re stuck on a level too long the game allows you to skip it, which also keeps the stress levels low. the gameplay is so simple that a certain amount of trial and error will usually see you through to the end of a level, but at the same time there are plenty of places where you’ll have to stop and think things through to move forward. i really appreciated how even near the end of the game some of the most devious levels only feature a few blocks, and the game’s main levels are well paced so that even within the fairly limited game mechanics there’s still a very satisfying amount of variety. there’s also a nice mix of recognizable “murals” (among which are several groups featuring NES sprites) and regular stages.
the game has unlimited replay value due to its level editor. i haven’t played around with it enough to see if random designs lead to unique challenges, but i suspect they don’t. although i was happy to set the game aside after completing all the main levels, i definitely enjoyed the time i spent with it, so much so that this is only the second game this year that i’m adding to my list of favorite games of all time. not as gratifying as the killer app to beat them all, tetris, but a deceptively simple but oftentimes devious game.
some intelligent pushmo links:
– the official site has three additional bonus levels you can scan in
– although this DailyPushmo twitter site is a misnomer, it still has a lot of great fanmade levels as well as some of the official ones released by nintendo of america
– there are several great sites for additional fanmade levels, including pushmo.3dsfans.com
– this thread at nintendolife.com’s forums and this one also have some good fanmade levels
– related comic at brawl in the family