The original 2011 Pushmo on 3DS stood out for its unique puzzle mechanics. Little red blob Mallo pushed and pulled blocks like drawers to create platforms that he could use to make his way to the top to rescue a trapped kid. A year later, Crashmo freshened things up by allowing Mallo to move blocks in four directions instead of only two. This changed everything, forcing players to plan out how blocks would fall and beneficially fit together when slid around. The new Pushmo World remains a high-quality puzzle game, but its lack of innovation disappoints.
Instead of another Crashmo-style leap forward, Pushmo World regresses back to the first game in most ways. Mallo is back to simple drawer-pulling, ladder-teleporting, and switch-hopping in the 120 core Pushmo Park stages. You still have plenty of clever, brain-busting puzzle fun along the way, but it all feels too familiar – even though I haven’t played the original for years.
All of the new, experimental elements are sequestered over in the Mysterious Pushmo zone, accessed separately instead of being integrated into the main campaign. These stages are where I had the most fun. Linked blocks of the same color all move at the same time when you yank on them. Yin-yang blocks work just the opposite; when you push in white blocks, black ones will pop out. Timed blocks slide back into the wall once the timer runs out, changing the pace from slow and contemplative to urgent and breakneck. The 50 unique puzzles here are a great time, and should have been a larger focus.
Puzzle creation works smoothly (I created one shaped like a little bomb guy), and it’s easy to upload your work to the World Pushmo Fair. This user-sharing area will provide endless created levels under the “Newest” and “Popular” tabs. As before, most users focus more on making pixel-art versions of licensed characters than crafting technically impressive puzzles. Strangely, there isn’t a way to search for puzzles using text. You just open these feeds and hope something you like shows up. Like previous games, puzzles can be tagged with a QR code so you can at least search out content people have posted on the Internet. Almost all 3DS QR puzzles from past games can be imported to the Wii U and vice versa, so you have access to years of creations already out there.
Overall, if you’ve never touched a Pushmo in your life and don’t have a 3DS, this is a good place to jump in. Unfortunately, by reverting to older mechanics, Nintendo offers little for longtime fans to get excited about.
This new entry remains a high-quality puzzle game, but its lack of innovation disappoints.