The original Pushmo 2011 on 3DS stood out for its unique puzzle mechanics. Little Red Drop Mallo pushed and pulled blocks like drawers to create platforms he could use to make his way to the top to save a trapped child. A year later, Crashmo freshened things up by allowing Mallo to move blocks in four directions instead of just two. This changed everything, forcing players to plan how the blocks would fall and fit together advantageously when moved. 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 returns to the first game in most ways. Mallo is back to simple drawer pull, ladder teleportation, and switch hopping in the 120 main stages of Pushmo Park. You still have a lot of clever and fun puzzles along the way, but it all feels too familiar to me – even though I haven’t played the original in years.
All of the new experimental elements are sequestered in the Mysterious Pushmo Zone, accessible 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 shoot them. Yin-yang blocks work the exact opposite; when you push white blocks, black ones will appear. The timed blocks slide back into the wall once the time is up, changing the pace from slow and contemplative to urgent and dazzling. The 50 Unique Puzzles here are a good time and should have been a bigger focus.
The puzzle creation works smoothly (I created one in the shape of a little bombshell 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 “Most Recent” and “Popular” tabs. As before, most users focus more on creating licensed pixel-art versions of characters than creating technically impressive puzzles. Oddly enough, there is no way to search for puzzles using text. You just open those feeds and hope something you like pops up. Like previous games, puzzles can be tagged with a QR code so that you can at least search for content that people have posted on the internet. Almost all QR 3DS puzzles from previous games can be imported to the Wii U and vice versa, so you have access to years of creations already available.
All in all, if you’ve never touched a Pushmo in your life and don’t have 3DS, this is a good place to start. Unfortunately, going back to older mechanics, Nintendo doesn’t offer much for longtime fans.