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I was initially skeptical about purchasing Pushmo. Catherine was the last puzzle game I played, and it was brutal… on easy mode. So I thought playing another block-shifting puzzler would be another trek down that torturous, unforgiving path. Turns out I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Making my way through roughly 200 levels in Pushmo Park –the game’s single player mode- wasn’t a miserable experience at all. Pushmos, the game’s name for puzzles, are structures made up of various movable blocks.
The goal is to reach the children at the top of the puzzles by moving blocks, to create platforms for your little hooded character to jump on. You can’t actually move blocks from left to right. All you’re essentially doing is adjusting their depth. Trust me, it gets more difficult than it sounds.
Unlike some other puzzlers, Pushmo doesn’t continuously raise the difficulty. This isn’t a criticism. In fact, it’s one of the game’s strengths. The difficulty curve is very gradually spread out amongst several puzzles. Once players solve one of the “peak” levels, they’re rewarded with a few easy ones before the difficulty ramps back up. The puzzles vary in theme so you’re not always just staring at a wall of seemingly random tetris blocks. You’ll wind up solving puzzles resembling food, animals, and of course, classic Nintendo characters.
They’re also deceptively short. Many of them can be completed in about 5 minutes. The game eventually introduces other mechanics, like pipes that transport players to different parts of the structure, and floor buttons that affect all blocks of the same color. And even when things do get difficult, the ability to rewind time for up to 30 seconds lets players undo any mistakes that would force them to restart the entire puzzle.
All of the above elements prevent the game from feeling stale, even when you’re over 200 puzzles in. You can easily play Pushmo in short bursts and, and there is enough content to last you several longer sessions as well.
Even if you somehow do get burned out on puzzle solving, the Pushmo Studio allows you to create your puzzles to share with others. You can create levels that are just as complex as those found in the later stages of the game, and can even share the custom puzzles you’ve completed with others via QR Codes.
My only issue with this game, and it’s a really minor one, is that every time I turned the 3D on, it bothered my eyes really quickly. I almost never have this issue with other games. I tried some 3DS other titles out again just to make sure it wasn’t only me. None of them bothered me the way Pushmo does. Everyone has different experiences with 3D on, so your mileage may vary. It’s only a very minor blemish when compared to the rest of my time with the game, and you can get on by just fine without the 3D on.
I haven't been this impressed with a title in a long time. With its simple-but-addictive game play, a smooth learning curve, and loads of content, Pushmo has left me more than satisfied. Whether you’re a hardcore puzzler fan, or just need something to play while on the go, this game will do the trick. At $6.99, Pushmo is not only one of the best titles available in the Nintendo eShop, but in the entire 3DS library.