Review: Pushmo

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Pushmo, the downloadable puzzle title for the Nintendo 3DS, is a clever game that should appeal to most players looking for a little brain exercise.

Like any good puzzle game, Pushmo is challenging enough to allow players feel smart without being hard enough to make them feel dumb. For the most part, at least. I have to admit that I got stuck in a few parts, but for most of the early puzzles can be solved in a minute or less and the game does a good job of teaching the core mechanics before real difficulty starts to set in.


Pushmo’s puzzles blend light platforming with tests of players’ spatial
awareness. Players control the colorful gnome-like “Mallo” who must
climb push and pull stacked blocks in order to create a path that allows him to hop from block to block until he reaches the summit. The game takes place in a “Pushmo Park” where several children have gotten themselves stuck at the top of each stack, and it’s up to Mallo to rescue them

The stacks are presented as a flat surface at the start of each level, and
it’s up to the player to figure out how to to craft a path without
getting stuck. The primary challenge comes from the puzzle designers’
limiting how far Mallo can extend the protruding blocks. When a player
approaches the top of a stack, it may appear as if it’s impossible to
extend a block far enough to get a foothold.

If a visual explanation makes more sense, here’s the trailer:

The puzzle and platforming aspects require players to maneuver Mallo in three dimensions, and while the game does employ the 3DS’ stereoscopic 3D effects, the 3d visuals are not especially dramatic nor essential. The puzzles don’t seem to be easier or harder if the 3D effects are on or off. Frankly, in Pushmo’s case it’s probably easier on the eyes to turn the 3D off and just play the game.

The vanilla game includes more than 250 advertised levels and players
can craft their own puzzles. Players can also scour the Internet in
search of others who use the 3DS’ camera to scan QR Codes associated
with other user-generated “Pushmos.”

If the game falters in any way, I have to say the presentation is
probably too cute for its own good. Pushmo’s ice cream colors and
characters who look like they belong in a coloring book may convince
some players that the title is only suitable for small children, when
the gameplay could appeal to players of all ages. But for players who
are tough enough to assume the role of a gnome climbing a giant
strawberry, Pushmo is nice puzzle game good for quick bursts of geometric entertainment.

Pushmo
Intelligent Systems/Nintendo
Nintendo 3DS
Rated E for Everyone