In recent years, Nintendo has come under fire from critics and fans alike on certain issues. They have alleged that the company has not only failed to put enough emphasis on the online aspects of their platforms, but also that they have become complacent when it comes to developing intellectual property featuring new characters, instead relying on the staples of Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Pokémon, and Metroid.
Rather than take those accusations lying down, it appears that Nintendo is ready and set to challenge those accusations. In addition to a recent system update, Nintendo has also put forth a lineup of downloadable titles for the Nintendo 3DS eShop, which have been grabbing some positive attention. These include the recently-released Freakyforms: Your Creations, Alive!, the upcoming Dillon’s Rolling Western, and the subject of this review, Pushmo.
Developed by the team at Intelligent Systems, who have been responsible for such hits at the Fire Emblem, Paper Mario, and WarioWare series, Pushmo is a puzzle platformer with a simple premise. Young children are trapped inside obstacle course/works of art called Pushmos, which feature pieces capable of being slid towards the screen, or back in again.
As the heroic Mallo, it is up to you to slide pieces of the Pushmos in and out as needed in order to ascend to the top of the structures, freeing and rescuing the kids from their artistic prisons. It sounds simple, but a set of rules in place keeps things from being too easy, and as you go on, later levels can get rather challenging.
Beyond that, your progress in the game will allow you increased access to a workshop in which you can not only create your own Pushmos, but download those of other players by scanning a simple QR code, just as you would for new Miis. As with any user-generated content, the scope of these Pushmos can be quite impressive to behold, and extremely difficult to get through; to ascend to the top of a Pushmo which accurately depicts the pixel art of Mega Man or the hero of Actraiser is quite a feat.
Some may write this off as a mere children’s game based on its visual aesthetic and theme, but as noted above, this could not be any further off the mark. It is a classic mix of characters, gameplay, and design which can be enjoyed by gamers of any age, as well as a challenge just as suitable to nearly any age.
Of course, some people may find some puzzles too daunting. If that is the case, then worry not; after spending a certain amount of time on a puzzle, you’ll be granted the option to skip it and come back for the little fellow at the top later. No reason the entire lot should have to wait, after all!
The visuals themselves are interesting, as the Pushmos seem reminiscent of the backgrounds seen in Super Paper Mario for the Wii, given their pixelated style. Meanwhile, the character remind us of those seen in Keita Takahashi’s Namco Bandai titles Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy, and the same sense of simple, silly fun he set out to achieve follows it into this game.
As for the 3D effects, they aren’t quite as near-essential to the gameplay as Super Mario 3D Land‘s, nor as in-your-face and mindblowing as Star Fox 64 3D‘s, but they do add a nice visual flourish which some may find helpful in navigating a field whose chief dynamic is defined by moving towards and away from the player.
With over 200 in-game puzzles and the opportunity for more through the game’s workshop, Pushmo is a terrific value which should provide hours of fun for anyone who takes the time to give it a proper try. It may not be a big-budget, $50+ boxed retail title, but it’s still a ton of fun anyway.
And if Nintendo can continue this course with its downloadable titles (and we certainly hope so when Dillon’s Rolling Western is released), then fans should have little to fear for the foreseeable future when it comes to the company’s output of online content and new IP.
Pushmo was released for the Nintendo 3DS as of December 8th, and is priced at $6.99. A review copy was provided to us by Nintendo of Canada.