Looking back at my previous posts, I’m shocked to see that I haven’t talked about Pushmo at length at all. It should pretty much be considered the 3DS eShop’s first killer app, and has been the main game I boot up every time I turn on my 3DS.
The game came out in western territories last December but I didn’t become aware of it until around February, and have heard almost no talk about it. Pushmo pretty much contains every quality that keeps us coming back to Nintendo games. Its gameplay is simple both in concept and controls, yet challenging and shockingly deep. Content-wise the game also feels very thick for $7, and that’s not counting the user-generated content.
Basically, Pushmo is a puzzle-platformer where in each level you have to reach the top of a stack of differently-shaped boxes by pulling them out to make a path. From that concept alone Intelligent Systems offers what looks like hundreds of levels of sloping difficulty, some of which are maddening. Very often it reaches the same mentality as Portal where the answer becomes blatantly obvious after the puzzle has pissed you off for 30 minutes.
The tutorial does get a bit overbearing, slowly taking you through gameplay concepts that aren’t tough to grasp, then spreading that over at least two dozen starter puzzles. After that though the game opens up to reveal an astonishing length. Even though the game feels deep enough with just the mechanic of pushing and pulling boxes, eventually it reveals gimmicks like portal ladders and switches, making you feel like you’ve reached a whole new level you didn’t even know was there.
The user-generated content angle of Pushmo looks like it’s already starting to be a success in its own right. After making a puzzle, it get’s turned into a QR code which you can then post online for people to scan with the 3DS camera. Some of the ones I’ve downloaded are insane.
In many ways, Pushmo feels like an oldschool game in terms of its format – taking a simple, original idea over many bite-sized levels, which kind of makes it the perfect downloadable game. And yet, I have a feeling I’m gonna be playing it all year.