The beginning months of the Nintendo 3DS eShop were pretty scarce in terms of high quality, original games. So 3DS users were long awaiting that first killer app that would propel the eShop into a legit gaming market hub for digital content and not just a place to relive your early gaming days with Virtual Console releases. That first grand game turned out to be Pushmo.
Platform: 3DS (eShop)
Developer: Intelligent Systems
Release Date: December 8, 2011
Pushmo is a puzzle platformer published by Nintendo and developed by Intelligent Systems, creators of games like Advance Wars and the Paper Mario series. The goal of the game is to reach a specific point in each level. For many levels it’s to reach the highest point. In order to reach that point, you will alter this wall of blocks by pulling them out from the background in order to create platforms. You can then jump on those platforms to create more platforms from other accessible blocks, until you reach your goal.
The controls and rules of Pushmo are really simple. You jump with the A button and grab blocks with the B button. Once you grab hold of a block, you can then push or pull it as you see fit. The main rule you need to remember in Pushmo is that you can only pull a block three spaces out from its original position. Once you pull it out that far, you can only push the block in. Although that’s the only real restriction, it really sets up how complex these levels can be.
Pushmo starts out really easy, giving you several tutorial levels. Perhaps a little too much tutorial levels, as you begin to grasp the simple mechanics fairly quick. But once you’re off on your own, the game really begins to get better and better. The early levels are designed with a lot of thought in mind, as they help ease you in into some techniques that become very useful in the later, more complex levels.
It’s a simple puzzle game, but one of the main draws of Pushmo is its charming design. The main character, Mallo, is like a mini sumo wrestler. There’s just something about watching him walk and jump around the level that adds to the enjoyment of the game. The music is pleasant and catchy. Probably the big thing about Pushmo though are the puzzles themselves. You’ll see quickly enough into the game that the puzzles are not only obstacles you need to traverse, but are also pictures. That curiosity of seeing what the next level will look like is just one of the many things that makes Pushmo so addicting. Not to mention, it looks great with the 3D on.
Just further adding onto the great level design work that Pushmo has, is the opportunity to create levels yourself. The level creator system is a simple process as well, just place down blocks where you like and you’re ready to go. Since levels are block based, one of the more popular choices of design for Pushmo is the recreation of popular 8-bit pixel art from the old NES days. What’s even cooler is how easy it all is to share levels with others. Through the use of QR codes, you just post up the picture the game creates onto your SD card and other Pushmo users just take a picture of the QR code and the puzzle is now in their game. Be careful though of what you design, as you can only share a level that you can beat. So it’s nice to know that any shared levels you see out there are possible to beat.
When Pushmo was released for the Nintendo 3DS eShop back in December 2011, it easily became the best title in the eShop. While the lack of original eShop titles played some part in it, that doesn’t mean Pushmo didn’t deserve the high praise. Fast forward to now and Pushmo is still often regarded as one of the best eShop titles available, and could possibly be up there as one of the top 3DS games so far. It’s a very solid game that’s simple to pick up and play. You can play it in short bursts or in long ones. There’s a lot of puzzles to tackle, and the level sharing system makes the content endless. There’s hardly anything to find wrong with this game, as it is perfect fit for the digital market and the Nintendo 3DS.